Love Isn’t All You Need



I grew up with a father who should have been the fifth Beatle.  My childhood was polka dotted with references to yellow submarines and holding your hand.  One-on-one dates with him were “magical mystery tours”.  You can trust that I grew up knowing that all you need is love.

All You Need Is Love.

It sure sounds nice, doesn’t it?

It’s a whimsical phrase to sing along with or to stitch on a throw pillow, but it sure falls flat when the rubber meets the road in real human relationships.

Maybe there are people whose relationships never hit a breaking point.  They probably endure suffering in other ways.  But for a lot of us- whether married or parenting or caring for aging parents- our closest relationships may at times be the heaviest cross we bear.  Many of us have seasons when we hear our alarm clocks in the morning and think, “can I run away from this?” before our feet have even hit the floor.  Our relationships are too painful, too permanent, too impossible.  It’s not for lack of love, it’s everything that love demands that we never have enough of.

Love isn’t enough.  It’s not all you need.

You might need counseling, new systems, a stronger support network, hard conversations, prayer, more self awareness, communication coaching, a faith community, or intentional techniques to apply.   You may need to accept the hard truth that your life was never meant to be about you.  You need love, absolutely.  But it’s far from all you need.

As an adoptive family, we’ve run into this myth not infrequently in the adoption culture; this idea that “all he needs is a loving home” or “all she needs is someone to love her”.  In NO WAY am I saying that human beings don’t need love, or that an orphaned child is more starved for parental love than I could ever fathom.  Love really does do miracles in everyone’s life, and maybe especially in the life of a parentless child.

But what we’ve found to be true, both in adoption and in lives spent listening carefully to others is this:  the deeper the wounds, the greater the need for interventions outside our simplistic view of “love”.

Our family’s been there.  We’ve been there in marriage, we’ve been there parenting, and heck some days we’re right back there again, confused by the despair we thought we’d clawed our way out of.  But there’s one thing I know now that I didn’t know then, and I sure hope you know it too:

We can do really hard things.  But not alone.

You’re parenting a child with needs that surpass your abilities, you’re willing yourself to salvage an unfaithful marriage, you’re caring for an aging parent who has become someone entirely different than who you’ve always known.  The possible circumstances are endless, but whatever they are, someone else has experienced them or is experiencing them too.  Find them.  Someone out there has the expertise, the resources, and the professional training to lighten this load for you.  Find them.

Your relationships are worth fighting for, and there are people out there who want to fight with you for them.  Don’t give up.

Love isn’t all you need.  But all love needs is you.


Flickr/Shiyang Huang

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