Blood and the Occupational Hazards of Love

My granddaughter fell off her little bike and scraped her finger. Blood flowed. Or trickled, more accurately. She cried. Blood, as we all know, is B-A-D. Our bodily integrity has been compromised. We’ve been affected, impacted by something outside of us. And it’s B-A-D. Or so we believe.

After tending appropriately to my granddaughter (she IS three, after all), I told her what I really thought, “A little blood is good. It means you were doing something cool and you tried something new. It might hurt a little but I think it’s better to be on your bike and have a little blood on your finger than to not have done anything fun today.”

She told her grandfather later,” I had blood but it means I did something fun.”

And that, my friends, was me preaching to myself, reminding myself of what I know: that one of the occupational hazards of love (for I do believe love is our duty, our work, our purpose) is pain.

I read a passage this morning in a Bible study by Beth Moore. She wrote, “I stuck my heart out there and, though it’s been broken, it has not grown cold.”

I whooped out loud. Amen! That’s what I want — for me, for all of you, for everybody — that we would care more to avoid cold hearts than broken ones.

Smashed ones I’d rather not have. Betrayal, loss, devastation. I’m not courting any of that.

But the normal (albeit painful) wear and tear of trying to love people… bring it on. We’re all prickly. We all rebuff others’ efforts at times. We all are inconsistent in our reactions to others’ social bids towards us. We do some heart-breaking, some hurting, some challenging. And those things happen to us. Loving is dangerous business. And yet, as I’m not the first to say, “nice work if you can get it.”

One of the chief challenges of my life has been to limit my expectations of people to letting them be merely human — instead of gods. And it has been damn hard. I have invested people and relationships with the full freight and weight of giving me identity, providing my worth. Those expectations can’t hold.

The positive side of my extreme, mega-watt, ginormous desire for connection with people is that, well, I really want to connect.

I’ll risk, as Garth Brooks says in Standing Outside the Fire, “dancing within the flame,” and I’ll “chance the sorrow and shame that always come with getting burned.”

I’ll also sing a chorus with Garth that “love is not tried; it is merely survived if you’re standing outside the fire.”

I for one will risk the flames. I’ll take the risk of having my heart broken a little.

And when I bleed I’ll try to remember that a little blood meant that I tried something new, had a little adventure and — perhaps — gained something that might not have happened had I stayed home without my bike.