We Don’t Need Tough Love, We Need Tough Love.


I’ve heard the phrase so many times, “It’s just a little tough love.” Typically after a parent, teacher, mentor, coach, or friend says something that sounds quite opposite from love. Do you enjoy receiving this kind of ‘tough love’? I sure don’t.

I feel completely defeated–less than.

When you actually take a look at the word ‘tough,’ it means something much different than how we use it in that phrase.

Tough: strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling.”

We need a love that is strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling. We need strong love. We need the real tough love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I would argue the kind of ‘tough love’ we hear about these days really is an excuse for lack of love in the person proclaiming to give it. A lack of patience and kindness. It’s boastful-declaring to others they are showing ‘tough love.’ It is dishonoring, and easily angered. It does not protect, trust, hope, or persevere. It gives up and lowers the standard of loving well.

(I’m not saying that discipline isn’t loving, because I believe that discipline is one of the most loving things you can do for a child. As long as it is coming from love and not something else.)

How many times have we felt lasting pain from the yelling, or name calling, or barking orders. The threats. Sure, I bet we followed through and did as they demanded, but what happened to the relationship? Did we grow closer to them or further away? Every time just a little further away, and a broken relationship really hurts. Do you know this kind of relationship?

Instead of looking at what others are doing wrong to correct them, what if we took a step back to ask ourselves if we are loving others well. Maybe we need to grow in the loving area. Loving toughly. Loving so tough that nothing will cause us to snap at another. Loving so tough that the relationship can’t help but grow closer. Love so tough that we will persevere through anything. A love that will withstand any situation.

Let’s get this one right. Shall we? 🙂


How do you love well? Or how do you like to be loved well? 

This entry was posted in Community, Encouragement, Family and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to We Don’t Need Tough Love, We Need Tough Love.

  1. To Live With All My Might says:

    I like your redefinition! The world’s tough love thinks about itself first; true tough love thinks about others first.


  2. leighathomas says:

    Well said, Emily. My girls suffered a lot of the world’s “tough love” in the high school years, and it really took a toll on our family. And when that “love” comes from a mentor and coach, it can be especially devastating. Our children must see genuine, Christ-centered, UNCONDITIONAL love from us!

    Thanks! Keep writing 🙂


  3. jisbell22 says:

    Reblogged this on jisbell22 and commented:
    Another great post filled with insight and wisdom, from Emily over at light the lie. So very true about the kind of love we need in this life versus the kind so many of us give. Thank you Emily!


  4. Lori says:

    Miss seeing you on here….hope you are feeling okay!


  5. Vernon says:

    Yes! Godly love is loving toughly by denying self and putting others first. What makes it tough is because it’s living spiritually. I really enjoyed reading this post.


  6. HI Emily! Stopped by for a morning pick me up from Emily – saying a prayer for you – miss you ❤


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