I believe that if I’m going to talk about Good Love, how it gets turned into Better Love, and that the model for that is God’s Best Love, I also have to talk some about Bad, Worse, Horrible Love. So last week I talked about abusive relationships and the cycle of abuse. Today I want to talk about The Good Love, The Bad Love, and The Ugly Love (I am a great fan of Clint Eastwood and heard a phone ring tone this week of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly).
First, for the Good Love, in this case actually Better Love, let me share some of a conversation I had yesterday with Bret, a manager at Chili’s. He commented on our seating choice, which led to a discussion of romance, which led to me sharing about my blog on love. Before I even mentioned my post on our 7th anniversary surprise, he shared his story. When his 10th anniversary came, he sabotaged his wife’s car one morning by removing the battery cable. When it was time for her to go to work, she came back in, very upset, and told Bret her car wouldn’t start. He said, that’s no problem, I’ll take you to work. But he took her to the airport instead. When they arrived, he told her that he had arranged for her to have a week off from work, had arranged for someone to take care of the kids, had a suitcase with new clothes for her in the car, and had tickets for them to go spend a week in Hawaii. That is an act of Good Love.
Second, for Bad Love let me share part of a conversation with a woman yesterday. Last week I talked about abuse, and this woman came from a family with abuse – what is popularly referred to these days as a dysfunctional family. Last week I told of the woman whose father killed a kitten in front of her, and told her he would do the same to her if she ever told anyone else about their “special secrets.” The woman I spoke with yesterday shared that she had lived back and forth between two mothers, the biological mother and the step-mother. While with one of them, who had many different boyfriends coming and going, the current boyfriend molested her sister. When the sister went to the mother to report the molestation, the mother got rid of the sister and kept the boyfriend. Now that is not just Bad Love, that is Horrible Love.
Third, how can anything be worse than that? What would Ugly Love be? Last week I mentioned the Merge youth mission week. While there a youth leader named Mike shared with me that he had been addicted to narcotics, but had been clean for 2 ½ years. Then this week a fellow shared with me a prayer of his that expressed well some of the feelings of both Mike and the woman above, whose mother got rid of her sister. I had heard a similar prayer, and even saw it on a token. But this updated version resonated with all these conversations, and relates to both Ugly Love and Better Love. It goes like this: God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the person I can, me, and the wisdom to know the difference.
For me, Ugly Love has to do with self. It is when life’s circumstances have led us to lack self esteem, self confidence, self forgiveness, and self love. These people had come to a point where they realized that they could not change the circumstances or the other people in their lives, but that they had control over how they reacted to those circumstances and people. Mike, this woman, and Ron Driver all recognized the Best Love of God, and through a personal relationship with Christ, were able to turn self-destructive Ugly Love into Better Love, and a better life.
But wait, who is Ron Driver? Ron shared with me that he is from the projects in Atlanta, and at an early age began self-medicating to escape the hurts of life. He ended up being a “functional addict” in the sense that he could hold down a job and have a somewhat normal life while addicted to pain meds. He made mistakes with his own kids, mistakes he can never take back. He shopped for the most liberal pain doctor he could find, and was able to get whatever he wanted, as much as he wanted, although it was a two hour drive to the doctor. He went between morphine and oxycontin. Soon, pain meds controlled every aspect of his life. But then he ran out of money and meds, and got “dope sick” – in withdrawal. He turned to heroin, started at $10 a day to maintain “wellness” and avoid dope sick. But soon he was up to $150 a day, and had a conversation with a man who said that he would help Ron, “when you are ready.” When he overdosed, and almost died, he knew he was ready, because if he didn’t get help, he was indeed going to die. He went back to the man who had offered to help, went through detox and rehab, then in Narcotics Anonymous he was able to “get in touch with why I made the decisions I did.”
This post is running long, and maybe I’ll share more on Ron another day. But Ron agrees with me (and Andy Stanley) that the root problem is that the heart is deceitful above all else, Jer 17:9 (see my link in recommended resources for Andy Stanley’s book, The Principle of the Path). And a deceitful heart, when we follow it, leads to wrong decisions. But, Ron has been sober for eight years, and is building a new ministry, Know My Heart Ministries, to help men overcoming the chains of addiction, at no cost to them. It will be a 15 month program – 3 months to establish if there is a true commitment and prepare for the intensive 12 months to follow. I would say step one is to realize my heart is deceitful, step 2 is to ask God, Search me, O God, and know my heart, Psl 139:23-24, and step 3 to choose, to decide, to begin the path, to allow God to transform me. Step 4 is to guard my heart, Prov 4:23.
What time is it? It’s time to leave Ugly Love. We all want Good Love.You know by now I am fond of hearts. Above is the logo for Ron’s ministry. If life’s pains and hurts, and addiction, can break our hearts, Christ can heal and patch those same hearts.