The song “The Glory of Love” has been an American favorite for years. It was first recorded by Benny Goodman in 1936 and has been revived many times over the decades; several generations have enjoyed its message. I’ve been listening to the 2012 recording by Paul McCartney. The first lines of the lyrics go: “You’ve got to give a little, take a little, and let your poor heart break a little. That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.”
It occurs to me that this is true for us when we are experiencing the losses of life—when “your poor heart break[s] a little” or a lot, “You’ve got to give a little, take a little.”
Unfortunately, we tend to gravitate to one or the other: a giver or a taker, overly conscientious or overly dependent. But in truth neither extreme is healthy. If we are perpetual givers our well runs dry and we have a great deal of difficulty in accepting help in the times of need that inevitably come to each of us.
If we are habitual takers, we never develop a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. We languish when challenged and deplete others in our lives with our neediness. Loving-well and living-well are achieved when both taking and giving are in balance. We need each other; we need to give and to receive.
Jesus knew about this human condition; he knew that we need consolation in grief, and that we need to enter with friends and family in empathy and caring during the heart-breaking times of their lives. How do I know?
Well, he demonstrated this understanding at the most difficult point of his life—during the crucifixion.
At the foot of the cross stood two people Jesus loved: Mary, his mother and John, his friend and disciple. The grief that was eminent for each would rock their world.
Out of love and concern, Jesus provided for each of them to give and to receive during the heart-break they would experience after his death.
John records this event: “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.”
Mary would give emotional support to the grieving friend of Jesus, and Mary would receive financial support and protection from John. John would give care to Mary, and would in return receive the consolation given by the mother of his friend. What a perfect arrangement. Isn’t that just like Jesus?!
“You’ve got to give a little, take a little, and let your poor heart break a little. That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.” Amen.
Rev. Ciela Ledbetter-Guckian is the Director of The Open Door, Chaplain of Hospice of the Miami Valley.