Sliding down the rope, my hands are raw from holding on. The constant uphill climb. I had a good grip at one point. I was solid. And then strength gave way. My fingers loosened. Just a little slip. No big deal. I can recover from this. So I look up, reaching for the knot above me. A resting point I can count on.
From out of nowhere, someone cuts away the knot at my feet. I slide down the rope with a jolt, catching myself from an instinct within. Don’t fall. Don’t let go. Don’t look down.
Dangling high above the ground, I realize there is no back up plan. No rope beneath me to retreat to. I have reached the end. The only way forward is up. And the only way up is to climb.
Trembling my muscles contract; my whole body in an effort to save itself from the fall. Grit. Little ones on my back cling tightly, looking to me for reassurance. They are too weak to climb the rope alone, and if I let go, we all fall. This is grueling, the weight of my own life plus theirs. Am I strong enough to pull us onward? Their trust in me is sure.
Something runs from my palm, loosening my grip. Slippery and warm, it flows from a wound deep in my own flesh. My hands bleed from the friction of going against comfort. The selfishness drips out of me, and I climb onward.
Love endures all things. It perseveres the hard times with joy, resisting the drag no matter how taxing. Before Him, I would have let go, too painful cost of love. Too much effort.
But love is not the former things; love is the endurance. Love is the miles trodden through the bitter landscape of my own human heart.
My broken love needs a daily dose of mercy. From them. From Him. Mercy for the days they are up at the crack of dawn, whining before 6am. Forgiveness for the way I snapped at her. Help for the battle raging against a sour attitude. Grace for when he walks out the door on Sunday morning, and we don’t see him again until Saturday night.
Because the plan rarely works out. There is loss, disappointment, and surprise. Life gets heavy when the bank account is empty and the car breaks down. The rope becomes slippery when stress is high, sleep is low, and help is nowhere in sight. That’s when our palms start to sweat. The downward slide begins. Strength fails us; so enters endurance. Sometimes the suffering is long. Agonizing.
But love refuses to retreat back into the darkness. It does not make excuses.
I cannot quit on them. His work inside me won’t allow it, no matter how my selfishness may bleed. New life replaces the pathetic excuse for a soul, restoring me. Strengthening me. Helping me press on. Creating in me a love that never stops.