love isn’t always prancing unicorns pooping marshmallows


Life is hard and relationships are messy.  They certainly aren’t unicorns pooping butterflies and marshmallows all the time.

In the middle of it all is love, don’t you think?  The essence of all things. The source of our deepest joys and deepest heartaches.   Our wildest laughter and most crushing cries.

Love is easy when the unicorns are prancing but what does love look like in the tough times?

I was reminded of a long ago memory when my youngest daughter was four weeks old.

A trip to the doctor one Sunday morning for a sick visit turned into a blur of activity and frantic movement. Before I blinked, we were in the hospital and I was alone with my baby, afraid for her life, all rational thought gone as I looked at this tiny body untouchable through the tent providing her breath; tethered to a multitude of tubes and wires.



Support unavailable, my husband in Oklahoma and my mother with the other children, I was alone in this dim room with the sounds and glow of monitors piercing the darkness. Fear settled in like a heavy wool blanket as I stood by her crib.

And then, the warmth of arms wrapping around from behind; a friend was there. What a gift. What a precious, precious gift. The gift of physical presence.

I think that is what love is. It is being present when the butterflies have flown away and there isn’t a unicorn in sight.

Brene’ Brown, PhD., L.M.S.W., says it this way: “I thought faith would say, “I’ll take away the pain and discomfort”, but what it ended up saying was, “I’ll sit with you in it.

As God loves us, we are called to love others.

As humans, our first tendency is to run when the going gets tough. When marriage is hard, when friendships aren’t fun, when difficulty comes we turn away or are blaringly silent.   We don’t know what to say so silence settles in like a fog.

That is the thing though, love doesn’t have to say anything. That is the beauty of love that we busy folks miss. We just have to show up.

Dear, dear friends, long ago, painfully lost a baby to what was classified as SIDS. I was visiting with a friend when we heard. What do I do?  She wisely instructed, Go there. Go there now.

I did and it was the right thing.  Sitting in love during unfathomable pain. A valuable lesson learned. There is certainly no taking away the heartache, no right words to say but I can sit with you in it.

Euripides, who lived in 480 BC, said, “Friends show their love in times of trouble, not happiness.” Thousands of years pass and love’s voice remains the same.

How many of us have said, “When the chips are down, we know who our true friends are?”  I have. When my marriage dissolved, so did many friendships. Decades old friendships. They were gone.  Just. Like. That.

Maybe they weren’t real friends after all or now with the passage of time I can think maybe, just maybe, they didn’t know what to say. Either way, it added to the painful rubble that was mounding at my feet. Crumbled marriage, crumbled dreams, crumbled friendships.

When we don’t know what to say to the friend who has received a cancer diagnosis, who  got separated, who lost a job or whose child got arrested, remember that love conquers all. We don’t have to speak.  Just show up with a hug or coffee or better yet a doughnut!

What we are saying in our silence and absence is that it doesn’t matter. They don’t matter. Their pain doesn’t matter. Only adding to the sadness and loss and shame.

Not speaking up is about us – our words won’t be right, they’ll be silly, they’ll be stupid, or out of bounds. But love is bigger than judgment.

Being in relationship is being vulnerable and as we work toward our most vibrant, healthy vision of ourselves, relationships are the crux of life.  Nurturing love brings about wholeness.

I encourage you to be present in the lives of those you love; when the unicorns are prancing and when there is pain.

Love to you, friend.