Let's do it. Let's get the s*&t kicked out of us by love.

That line, from a scene in the excellent movie Love, Actually, sums up love. Not love, that sappy feeling that has been distorted by far too many bad movies and even worse songs. "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Really? No, codependency, passive aggression, and denial mean never having to say your sorry, so you curl up in the corner and munch on wet cigarette butts.

Love means having to say you're sorry, you were wrong, you screwed up, and you aren't sure how to fix things. Love means having enough faith in this complicated and complex feature of human relationships to go on yet another first date or even celebrate yet another year of being with a person who knows your faults so well that s/he dare not bring them up in a heated argument. Love is doing something out of pure hope and goodness that when the tears come (and they do), somehow, you know deep in your bones you will heal and will love again, even love a bit better because you were willing to love enough to surrender to faith.

Love stays up all night with the baby and fixes breakfast for the homeless the next morning. Love gets to know people, even in their ending days, and cries at the funeral. Love is courageous enough to stand with the outcast and kiss first. Love just walks into the fray, cost-benefit analysis be damned.

God loves us like that. We imagine ourselves these amazing beings full of compassion and goodness, but we spit and kick and hit each other regularly, especially over political issues, it seems. And the results of our temper tantrums, from the smoking remains of a marriage to the smoking remains of a country and a people, cut God deeply. And yet, look up from our mess and guess who's there?

And in our better selves, we love like this. We don't forgive quite as quickly, and our memories seem to etch the pain so deeply that we think we'll never get over the crevasse of betrayal, hurt, guilt, anger, even the memories of great love that pinch our souls that we're experiencing because we were brave enough to love and love again.

The scene in Love, Actually is the culmination of one of the plot lines. A young boy and his step-father are bonding in the grief that follows the death of his mother and the step-father's wife. Sam, the young boy, decides he's in love with a classmate, a young girl. And so ensues the sacrifice, the conversations, even the insanity of courtship (one-sided though it be). When the object of his affection is flying to America, Sam in just about to call it a day when his step-father implores him not to give up. Love just doesn't walk away that easily. Sam looks at this man, calls him Dad, and utters the line.

"Let's do it. Let's get the shit kicked out of us by love."

Verbatim or not, Jesus said that line. The saints who preached inclusion and mercy said that line. We say that line. It's the Gospel in two sentences. If you love, you will get the s*#t kicked out of you. Just a hard, true fact.

But you will also get the best kisses and hugs. You will laugh with people who love you. You will be part of something far greater than grief or death.

You will be loved.

And by the way, Sam gets the girl. Because love always wins in the end.


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