“Nobody said it would be easy.”
My father always used to say this to me whenever we’d be talking on the phone about the difficult stuff of life; the obstacles and heartache and gut-punches we regularly log here during our time as citizens of the planet. It was invariably the period on the closing sentence of so many of our conversations. At the time it often seemed like such a throwaway line, but the further I walk the more gravity it possesses.
Most of us imagine that life should be easy; that we should be able to go through our days without discomfort or turbulence of any kind, and we are usually genuinely surprised when they show up. We look around and see all manner of emotional disasters befalling people, but the truth is—we rarely believe those days should or will come to us.
But life is not at all easy these days for those of us still straining to believe that love wins. If there’s ever been a season where such an idea has been more stretched to its breaking point—it is this one. We see the attrition of our friendships, the disconnection in our families, the acrimony of strangers, the fractures out there in the world, and it all feels fairly hopeless at times. We feel resistance to love and mistake it for our failure.
But this pushback to goodness should neither surprise or dissuade us and it should not be mistaken for defeat. Love has never won because it’s gone unopposed. It’s won because it is a persistent, stubborn son of bitch who believes that people are worth fighting for, bleeding for, waiting for, sacrificing for. Love is not proven only in passion, but in time as well—in the perseverance of its work within, around, and through us.
When I look in the rear view mirror of my days, love’s character is so very clear:
When love has won in my marriage, it’s won because in the face of some very dark days when leaving would be far easier—it chose to stay.
When love has won in my family, it’s won because it’s decided to endure the deep flaws that only show themselves at close proximity.
When love has won in my parenting, it’s won when I pushed through fatigue and selfishness and distraction, to be fully present for one more storybook.
When love has won in my heart toward others, it’s won because it has resisted my most ingrained and fortified places of greed and vanity and fear.
When love has won in our nation, it’s won when a few brave people have stepped directly into the path of an ugly popular momentum, to begin a new beautiful countermovement.
So yes, I do still believe that love wins, because ultimately love is an act of defiant persistence; of staying, enduring, waiting, and continuing—when they all feel counterintuitive. Love wins in the choice we make to have one last conversation, make one more plea, give one more day, make one final stand. It wins when we pass through a night of hell, and in the morning still manage to somehow greet the sun with expectancy. Love wins in the open hand we extend, that would much rather be a closed fist.
And so in the relationships you’re grieving over and the world you’re lamenting and the internal change within you that feels impossible, keep going. Because there, in your steadfast refusal to let the separation and bitterness and apparent defeat have the final word, is where love does its real winning. This is the work the people of love have always done and it’s the work they’ll need to do today.
And no—nobody said it would be easy.