Back in 1983, Pat Benetar released the song “Love is a Battlefield”.
Well, some three decades later, it continues to strike a chord in many people. It has been covered by singers like Cher, Carrie Underwood, Selena Gomez, Shakira, and Mary J. Blige. And if you search for the words “love is a battlefield” on Twitter, you’ll see tweeters world-wide paying homage to the song and the sentiment several times an hour. Recently I saw it spray-painted across the side of a building in bright red letters, crying out to passersby the pain of a broken, bleeding heart.
“Love is a battlefield.” The words make a great rock anthem. But does its rallying cry ring true? Consider these statements:
If love is a battlefield, then we had better march into our most precious relationships girded with armor, wielding sharp instruments of torment in an attempt to subdue the object of our love into submission.
If love is a battlefield, then the love we “win” in the end will have been taken by force.
If love is a battlefield, then we must be constantly be on guard that our hard-won spoils of war are not taken from us.
If love is a battlefield, it is a place where we meet our love object/enemy and make them our prisoners and our servants.
If love is a battlefield, we must live in constant fear that love will be wrestled painfully from our grasp and we will be left in despair.
So let’s look at some of the key words that arise in these statements: torment, enmity, imprisonment, servitude, force, fear, pain, despair.
I believe that many people feel this way about love. But does this really sound like love to you? If it does, why in the world would we seek after it? Why invite something into our lives that will decimate our happiness or leave us on constant, fearful guard. Better to walk away from love altogether and seek the neutrality of emotional distance. If we perceive and believe that love is a battlefield, we are bound to be hurt by others . . . but the greatest enemy of our happiness is ourselves and our misapprehension.
I have a different view of love. And it’s pretty straightforward: Anything that is happening on a battlefield, by definition, is not love at all. Perhaps it is the desire to subdue. The will to power. A deep and constant craving for things we can never really possess driven by a pressing fear of loneliness. It could be many things. But it’s certainly not love.
Love is not a battlefield. Love is sacred ground.
Love is the sacred ground upon which we lay down our armor and our instruments of fear and intimidation.
Love is the sacred ground upon which we throw open our arms with strength and courage that our hearts will endure an encounter with another.
Love is the sacred ground upon which we plant seeds of understanding.
Love is the sacred ground through which storms of anger may blow and threaten to uproot what we have toiled so hard to plant . . but if we are able to weather these tempests with courage and skill, we will find the seeds of our understanding watered and nurtured.
Love is the sacred ground upon which the delicate blossoms of forgiveness take root and come to flower.
Love is the sacred ground from which we harvest trust and compassion.
Love is the sacred ground upon which we feast together on the fruits of our devotion.
Love is a broad and fertile field where we meet another human being and find within them a wonder and mystery that is constantly evolving.
But we will only see this when we are willing to be truly courageous, put aside our burdensome shields and our fearsome weapons. We will only see this when we act with faith and great courage, making ourselves vulnerable and trusting that love is nothing like a battlefield.