I am deep in the throes of planning for my daughter’s wedding in April. So, I will be less-than consistent with my blog each week (did you miss me last week when I didn’t post?). I will post when I’m inspired, but am giving myself freedom to take a break when wedding details overwhelm me.
But now faith, hope, and love remain; these three virtues must characterize our lives. The greatest of these is love. –1 Corinthians 13:13
Valentine’s Day has come and gone again. I’m not big on celebrating it–not because I’m against love or fun or chocolate; but because it just doesn’t hold any significance for me. I never really dated before I met Jud, and our ‘dating’ life involved long-distance communication for most of the year and a half before we got married. I still remember our phone ‘dates.’ We would both order the same pizza (pepperoni and pineapple) and talk on the phone for hours. That was back in the day when you actually had to pay for the long-distance minutes you used. I think we topped out at $650 one month. I nearly choked when my dad showed me the bill and told me I needed to pay it within the week…. But, with our anniversary in January and the holidays so close to that event, Valentine’s just seemed like too much work.
However, this year, I started getting really excited for Valentine’s Day–or at least the post-Valentine’s-chocolate sales. With our daughter’s wedding in April, I need to amass some pretty chocolate hearts wrapped in pretty red or purple foil for some gift bags. This week, they will all be on sale! And I like the idea of not having to pay full-price for anything wedding-related these days! As I’ve scoured some of the ads to try to find good deals throughout the city, I have thought about love in our lives.
As I’ve said, Jud and I had a mostly long-distance relationship before we got married. A week after we started dating, the military, in all it’s wisdom, transferred Jud from Arizona to New Mexico. We still have all the snail-mail letters we wrote during that time, since the internet didn’t exist. Someday, our kids will find the boxes that hold those cards, letters, cassette tapes and drawings and see how our relationship developed. But those items only hold the beginning of our love story. Most romantic comedies confuse romance with love, and then they end at the beginning of love. Ah, those beautiful times when love is new. The grass has forsaken the winter snow and hibernation and has become green again. The trees are brimming with birds singing and new leaves unfolding. Can we take a moment to deeply sigh longingly in the romance of young love?
Okay, that’s enough.
The reality that those of us who have lived-longer-than-our-teens know is that love encompasses so much more than the shallow depths of its newness. Love grows to depths we couldn’t imagine in the beginning–and would completely scare us off if we knew the ugly paths we’d have to traverse to strengthen love for one another. We find an everlasting beauty and depth of love in our scars–the times others had to help us, and the times we had to shore up our own strength to help another. I think of the parent who tries to talk a child off a literal ledge to (hopefully) save the child’s life. The spouse who takes care of a dying partner. The woman who courageously chooses to leave an abusive relationship, rather than have her daughter grow up thinking that love destroys the body, mind and soul. The man who embodies integrity, kindness, gentleness when he’s at his best, and humility when he fails. The couple who weather the decades of life-issues, children-issues, health-issues, job-issues and allow those circumstances to grow them up individually and bond them collectively.
If you’re in love’s newness stage, enjoy every heart-soaring, heart-breaking minute of it. If you’re well-rooted in love, enjoy every heart-soaring, heart-breaking minute of it. If you express your love for others as a single, enjoy every heart-soaring, heart-breaking minute of it. If you have lost a loved one, remember the heart-soaring, heart-breaking times, and let the remembrance of deep love accompany you in your grief and allow your heart to heal, in its time.
Too much of the news fills us with the knowledge of evil, injustice, dream-squashing in this world of ours. It’s easy to forget that God’s image in us makes us capable of brilliant acts of courage: staring down the powerful when they forget the breaking backs upon whom they stand, gently caring for the orphans and diseased, tirelessly teaching the challenged ones who are often overlooked. Those who vulnerably open their hearts to receive the pain and fear of others to show that God’s love really can bring hope to mirthless places and rekindle faith that God has not forgotten us. Those are love letters we all need to find! Those are love letters we need to live!
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