Posted by: Judy | March 25, 2014

Just live with love…

I’ve mentioned how much I dislike the easy answers.

A blog I follow recently posted about what to do if you’re starting new: Just live with love.

I do realize some people need this simple directive. It doesn’t help me. I know the world does not revolve around me. I know I’m not the only one who finds this simplistic answer frustrating.

It falls along the lines of other unhelpful blanket advice like “Everything you need to know is in The Bible.”

Yes and no.

The Bible does not teach how to make bread. It doesn’t teach how to use anything electronic.

I am not dissing the Bible. I promise.

What God wants me to know for my Eternal Salvation: The Bible is a fantastic answer.

Perhaps what bothers me is the word “just.” The usage suggests it’s simple and obvious. Few things in life are either. I’m a wordsmith. Words are a big deal. How they’re used is powerful or anemic.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. ~ Mark Twain

So, let’s say I shorten it and dispose of the lazy word. “Live with love.”

Well, that’s the problem isn’t it?

The answer is a great part of any foundation, but it’s only the beginning.

Perhaps the more complicated part is answering the question: What is love?

For abuse survivors, love is twisted and mangled beyond recognition.

I vividly remember one of my early mantras: If this is love, I don’t want it.

Telling an abuse survivor to “Just live with love” is not loving or kind. It’s like tossing them into a weed strewn garden and saying, “Just cook a gourmet meal.”

They might recognize some of the plants, but it will take a lot of work to clean out what doesn’t belong so those plants are able to thrive. Some of the necessary ingredients will not be available.

A gourmet meal is possible, but it requires developing the garden, adding livestock, orchards, and works better if one cooperates with others who have necessary ingredients, like salt.

Weeding needs to take place first. A survivor needs to learn the difference between weeds and healthy plants. Cultivating healthy plants requires work and learning new skills. One needs to learn when the best time to harvest is and what flavors work well together.

Living with love is complicated.

Complicated is not a bad thing. Complicated is rich and full and big and bold and subtle and intricate and more.

I suppose what bothers me is the meme is simplistic. It’s great if that’s all you’re looking for and a nightmare if you’re looking for more…


It reminds of all the times I was told, “Just say no.” Which takes me back to Chapter 6.


  1. I believe you are the one that taught me, “If an idea for living could fit in a nutshell, it should probably stay there.” Hugs. Loving others is difficult when it is hard to love yourself. Christ said there are 2 great commandments but he also gave us the beatitudes, golden rule, ten commandments and a lot of other suggestions on how to carry those two rules out.

    • Good points. Thanks for adding them, Ruth.

  2. I have to agree that any time we try to sum up everything about life with some platitude or another — one tiny sentence that is supposed to cover all the bases — well, it’s very likely that you are looking through rose-colored lenses that are filtering out huge chunks of the truth. Just as in your example, love for an abuse survivor is territory fraught with misconceptions and liberally sprinkled with splintered ideas of what love is supposed to look like, so trying to tell someone to “just live with love” is not terribly useful information.

    One of my personal pet peeves is the phrase “just let it go”. When I first became healthy enough to begin revealing the secrets that had kept me bound in shame for so many years, I heard a constant litany of some variation or another of “just let it go”. What people were really saying was that it made them uncomfortable to be confronted with the truth, so their not-at-all helpful suggestion to just let it go was more about keeping them comfortably ensconced in their bubble of non-involvement, rather than helping me to recover from the horrors of the abuse.

    Which isn’t to say to learning how to let things go isn’t a step in the right direction (just as learning how to find a healthy version of love is also a step in the right direction), but to pretend that surviving abuse is as simple as waking up one day and deciding that today is the day I’m going to “just let it go” is ridiculous. It is nothing more than twisted and warped fiction. Learning how to just let it go takes years and years of untangling the mess left behind after surviving abuse, and to suggest otherwise is nothing short of psychologically damaging false misconceptions. We already have way too many of those, thanks.

    My barometer test has become more simplified over the years — if something someone says to me elicits feelings of encouragement and empathy and compassion, then I try to absorb their words and see how they can fit in my life as I continue to move forward down the path of healing. If something someone says to me elicits a response that leaves me feeling like I’ve just been ignored or insulted, then there is a good possibility that I will discard their words and make every attempt to limit my exposure to their particular brand of (un)helpful advice. We end up being the guardians of our own healing journey, so we have to do whatever is necessary to save ourselves.

    • Yes! ‘Let it go’ is another one! Let go of what? Someone I knew advised I visualize everything bothering me as helium balloons and to let them go one at a time. The next thing I knew I was mentally in my own nightmare version of the movie “Up.” I’d release one balloon, and it would be replaced by two or three, and then four and five. The next thing I knew, in my head, my problems were carrying me away. Needless to say, the relaxation game was an epic fail. I’m going to use your barometer. Thanks, ntexas99.

  3. This post reminded me of a news story from last night about a minister who is giving guns away at his church. In defense to the criticisms he’s received for this practice, he said something along the lines of “anyone who reads the bible knows that this is in line with what is in there.”

    Ok, I’m no bible scholar, but I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t give out guns at the last supper. His comment was a wtf?

    Sometimes people yammer stuff to make themselves feel better even when it makes no sense what they’re saying.

    • Guns at the last supper? No. He did braid a whip and use it to clear the moneychangers from the Temple. The Israelites were commanded to prepare for and go into battle. However, anyone can justify anything with the Bible. Abusers are notorious for twisting it to their need. This is when I remind myself that God gave me a brain for a reason. He expects me to use it. He gave me a heart and expects me to use it as well. Using them together in harmony is really the whole point of life. Abusers expect their victims to turn off their brain and twist their heart until it’s unrecognizable.

      “Sometimes people yammer stuff to make themselves feel better even when it makes no sense what they’re saying.” Yes! What I’m starting to notice is they often use big or sophisticated words and give it a touch of poetry and suddenly it’s supposed to be profound. On the other end is those who simplify to the point of near nothingness.

      Thanks, PV, for the reminder that if it doesn’t make sense it might not be because I’m not getting it. 🙂

      • Ha! I do that sometimes too–scratch my head at things that don’t make sense and assume I’m the one missing the boat.

  4. I agree with this usage of ‘just’. It does imply it is easy in situations that are complicated. A while ago I came across a wikipedia info about usage of the word and how it is used to manipulate. I don’t remember the article on it. What is also interesting about the word is how much we use it in language and we don’t realise that it can create an uneasiness. xx

    • Thanks for the heads up on the word. Interesting. I probably haven’t mentioned I don’t use it in my fictional writing. I endeavor to avoid it in my everyday writing.

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