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Practicing Deep Love in South Africa

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by Tatum Collins Tatum is a member of EM's 6-Month Africa IMMERSION mission trip team traveling and serving together throughout South Africa and Lesotho in 2021. This is a reflection posted originally on her personal blog.

"The fear of hurt often stops us from pursuing relationships because nothing hurts quite the same as leaving those who you begin to love."

I promise this will make sense in a minute.

A few years ago a mentor of mine introduced me to a book called Tattoos on the Heart. This book (one of EM's 13 books to help you love your neighbor) speaks on many topics, but the one that stands out to me the most is the way it emphasizes the need to love until it hurts. The love and memories you share with people serve as a "tattoo on your heart." Tattoos hurt and are permanent, which is the same as this kind of love. A love like this will leave you forever changed.

Often I do not allow myself to experience deep love like this because of fear. Like many, I am afraid of this kind of love because it is messy and it can hurt. Relationships are messy and I fear broken trust, not measuring up, loving someone and leaving. I fear that a love like this could change me (for better or worse).

I knew before walking into this experience that in order for me to get the most out of it I would need to love deeply. I knew it would be messy and hard and uncomfortable but rewarding as well.

Nothing makes you grow quite like being completely uncomfortable.

As we transition out of our current community and prepare for what is next, I am reminded why deep love is difficult. It is hard to move on from the people who welcomed you with open arms and treated you as family. It can hurt for a time. But the lasting stamp of the love I learned from these new family members will last forever.

These memories are bittersweet, and I am ready for all that is yet to come. I am learning from my experiences and what it looks like to deeply love all of the people I come to meet.

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