One of our mottos at Christ in the City is Mother Teresa’s “love until it hurts.” I’m often challenged by friends on the street to strive for a more radical love. One of the most powerful examples of love I have encountered was with a woman at Lunch in the Park named Monica. Monica and her toddler, Luke, were staying in a cheap motel infested with bed bugs. At night, she would hold Luke in her arms to keep the bed bugs from biting him. Monica sacrificed her own comfort for her son, every night. She understood the meaning of self-giving love.
On a Friday Night Street Walk, we met a man named Mack who identified himself as a philosopher. He spoke in elaborate, intellectual terms about his spiritual and philosophical journey. Throughout the conversation, I was distracted by the smell of alcohol on his breath and the sad look on his face.
I waited until the group had said goodbye before I saying to him, “hey, I’m worried about you. Why do you drink?”
He sighed, “I haven’t talked about this in a long time…you’re right to be worried. Honestly, I haven’t been sober since the day my wife died.”
After talking about his wife and ways to address his alcoholism, we promised to pray for each other. I left the conversation wondering if I have ever loved someone as much as Mack loved his wife.
1 John 4:18 states: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” I often fall short of this standard. I am tempted to stop loving people when it becomes uncomfortable or difficult. I am so afraid of rejection that I put limits on how much love I give. I have learned through my time as a Christ in the City missionary that these limits I place on my love are artificial. My own human love will always fall short, but I can strive to love with the infinite love of Christ. When I begin to fear, I can always turn to the Cross- the ultimate example of “loving until it hurts.”