So listen, it’s Valentine’s Day again. That day of romance and surprise and flowers and chocolate and maybe dinner out. Well, either I’ve been cheated out of these opportunities for Husband to express his adoring affection for me for the past many years of marriage and the 3 previous years of dating, or it really just isn’t that important to either of us. Seriously.
It isn’t that Husband and I don’t get each other cards sometimes for a birthday or other calendar holidays… It isn’t that we don’t sometimes get each other gifts, but there are many, many more times that we don’t buy each other gifts for Christmas or birthdays or other holidays…
It certainly isn’t that we don’t love each other enough or work hard to be thoughtful about the gift or card we think the other one of us would like… So don’t let me mislead you into thinking that Husband and I don’t love each other completely, all the goods, bads, and uglies. Trust me, I’ve been ugly to him, and the poor guy sticks it out, knowing and believing that his patience and our love is still there, just maybe pushed down under the ugly. We’ve been through a lot together, certainly not as much as too many other people I know, but we’ve had our share of muck and mire to struggle through.
We know that love is NOT a one-day-a-year deal, just pretty-fied for a fun holiday in the yucky days of winter.
We know that love is NOT what’s written by Hallmark or American Greetings, fluffy and fuzzy as their sentiments have been known to make me feel.
We know that love is NOT candlelight, roses, or kid-less dinners out – not that we even really want kid-less dinners anywhere. And I’d rather grow my own roses. And I’d rather Husband not have a migraine from the smell of candles burning.
We know that love is NOT those special, hand-holding-across-the-table-while-gazing-fondly-into-each-other’s-eyes moments, which although nice if they happen for more than three seconds and you’re not interrupted by a waiter or a kidlet, are really just more like made-for-TV-movie-moments.
Maybe though, that’s just my old-married-lady side talking. I used to be disappointed when Husband wouldn’t pull out the romantic gushy-ness, until I realized something…
I realized what LOVE truly is.
LOVE is holding your sick baby while her fever rages or cleaning up her bed after she vomits unexpectedly in the middle of the night or sleeping on the floor to calm an upset little one so she can see you when she has a nightmare.
LOVE is washing the dreaded tower of dirty dishes for your wife. Just because and without being begged to do so.
LOVE is making mostly healthy meals, night after night after night, and food shopping and grocery bag hauling and bag unpacking and recipe finding and scrubbing endless pots and pans afterward.
LOVE is working overtime hours on a Saturday to earn enough money to pay for your poor old dog’s vet bills to keep her alive a bit longer.
LOVE is sisters (and brothers), fighting and sharing and hitting and hugging – all of the time, loving each other through and through.
LOVE is freezing off your backside on your old semi-outdoor porch to thaw out a frozen water line so your wife can run a load of laundry or replacing a hardwood floor when your wife surprises you by removing the vinyl tile to find a giant hole underneath..
LOVE is doing without gifts for Christmas so your kids can have presents, and because you really don’t need anything more than each other anyway.
LOVE is putting everyone else’s needs before your own, not because you want the credit for the sacrifice or the effort put in – just a “thank you” is enough.
“LOVE is patient; LOVE is kind; LOVE is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. LOVE does not insist on its own way; LOVE is not irritable or resentful; LOVE does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. LOVE bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, emphasis added)
That definition of LOVE, true, God-filled LOVE, is incredibly daunting, a seriously overwhelming challenge to attempt. I’ve fallen short on every single count, more than once, unfortunately. And not just in my love for Husband or for my kids.
LOVE is unbelievably hard to have, to give, to receive, to understand. And yet, God has brought us into a relationship built on LOVE, His most perfect LOVE. Because of this LOVE that knows no bounds and exceeds all expectations and deserves so much more LOVE in return than is ever received, we must work unbelievably hard to LOVE as we are LOVED by God Himself.
And not to just love those in our families or our friendship circles or our churches. Every single person we meet in every single corner of Creation is LOVED by God. And we are to LOVE them as He LOVES them, as His children. This doesn’t mean we have to like every decision they make or every word they speak – it means more than that. It means we are to LOVE them, disliked actions or words or thoughts and all. No exceptions. Ever.
LOVE is always, always greater than any other force in the world, no matter how dark the hatred or fear or anger or terror.
Because LOVE is not of the world or in the world. It was created for the world by God, who made the world out of His LOVE.
May the God of LOVE stir in you and in me the desire to LOVE boundlessly, to LOVE recklessly, to LOVE endlessly.
Happy LOVE day.