“Love is love.” You might be hard-pressed to find a more dangerous three-word combination floating around as a life-shaper (or life-mis-shaper) in today’s culture. It’s thrown around widely and accepted just as widely. . . typically without thought or critique. Understood in the context of today’s youth culture, to love someone means that we affirm every feeling-driven and intuitional decision or action a person takes. To love someone is to encourage a commitment to the mantras You be you! and Just follow your heart! Sadly, more and more parents and youth workers see their leadership role as that of encouraging such self-expression.
Youthworkers and parents. . . love does not encourage those we lead to live into their feelings, intuitions, and desires. Rather, we must love students enough to tell them the truth. . . even when that truth goes against the flow of cultural “wisdom”. . . aka “the course of this world.” Paul tells the Corinthians, and us, that “love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (I Cor 13:6).
Consider these wise words from the Carthusian monk, Guigo I (1083-1136) from his “Meditations”: “Love is the only healthy reason for telling the truth. It can be a healing action. If the one you speak to in truth refuses to listen to you, pity that person. One who is sick is refusing to swallow medicine. . . . The truth can be a sword. If you use it with the desire to harm someone, it can actually become an evil. Never use truth this way. Always be motivated by a desire for good when you wield truth.”
Perhaps out of our desire to serve the Lord faithfully as we fulfill our ministry/parenting callings we will find ourselves prefacing many of our conversations with the children and teens we know and love with these words as we engage in difficult conversations: “I love you enough to tell you the truth.” And never forget, we too need people in our lives who are willing to say the same thing!