I have a friend who I love with all my heart. She has been my closest friend since we were niners in high school. We’ve been through some pretty crazy times together. When it comes to the details of my life – the pains, the joys, the sorrows, the trials, the successes and triumphs – she knows it all. And we broke up in December.

We have this history of breaking up and getting back together. We love each other forever, there’s no doubt about that. She’s my soul’s sister and she owns a piece of me that I’ll never even try to take back. She’s the David to my Jonathan. But we also tend to hurt each other, and because our love is so deep, so is the wound when this happens.

We haven’t spoken since before her wedding and since before Christmas.

And she sent me a text yesterday telling me she misses me.

And my heart leapt inside me.

I have so many people who judge our relationship and urge me to write her off. I’m sure you all have had a relationship like that – where the people who don’t like to see you get hurt want you to bail on it and leave it at the curb. And maybe I should. But I can’t.

There’s so much more to it, but I can’t help but feeling puzzled at this concept.

Some have called it a toxic relationship. And in some ways it very well could be. But I don’t understand why that qualifies it for termination.

If Jesus walked away from me because I hurt Him and continued to blaspheme Him or deny His love, even after complete and total repentance and rededication, I would be wallowing in a grave of emptiness and total aloneness right now. But He never does. In fact, He commands me to forgive, again and again, over and over, until it breaks me, and then 70 times 7 times after that.

I love this woman. I love her with the purest of loves that only God could have given me. I love her as I love my own life. And when I define love, and as I search through scriptures and teachings from my Saviour, I find no justification for giving up on that love. Nowhere.

In fact – Christ gave us a beautiful definition of love that we all know or have at least heard.

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love isn’t supposed to be conditional. Love isn’t supposed to have rules and limits. It’s not supposed to remember the hurts of the past and hold onto them and hold us back from loving in the future. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be real. Nothing about love is easy! Love requires dedication, commitment, selflessness and complete and total devotion without conditions.

I’m not talking about the love this world shows us. I’m talking about Christ’s love. He never gives up on me. He takes my daily sins and wraps them in His nail-scarred hands, and flings them as far as the east is from the west. And He turns the other cheek and loves me the next day. That is the kind of love I want to exhibit and experience in my life. I don’t want the kind of love that asks for love in return, or requires perfection in order to receive all its benefits. I want REAL love. And it has to come from a desire to be more like Christ, even – especially – if it hurts.

I’m going to see her and meet her new husband tonight. I am itching to pull her into my arms and hold her close and feel her warmth again. Doesn’t God restore all things? Is there anything that is beyond His redemption? This past year has proven to me that yes, he does, and no, there isn’t.

Perhaps I’ll get my heart broken again. But I don’t see how not stepping out in faith and love is an option when Christ commands me to love others more than myself. If loving her means breaking my heart, I’m prepared to do that. Christ broke Himself to love me. So following in obedience and submitting to the love He has placed and burned and fired inside me is what I am choosing to do.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis