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Archive for September, 2013

What love looks like

Several of my former students are getting married or are newlyweds. Aside from making me feel extremely old, this fact also brings out the nurturing side of my personality. Translation: I want to give them advice.

Now at first glance, I might not seem like the best person to dish out wisdom about relationships. That’s because I’ve messed up. A lot. I’m right up there with Liz Taylor in the category of “I’ve really found true love this time… And another one bites the dust.” However, I would argue that it is precisely because of these ghosts of relationships past that I am someone who’s advice should be heeded.

About 3 years ago, I met my match. I mean that in every possible way you can take it. He is my match emotionally and intellectually. He guides the spiritual health of our family. He makes me laugh and understands me in ways I never thought possible. And he loves me better than I deserve.

What I want to focus on here is not the simple fact that he loves me. It’s how he loves me. I’ve learned so much during our time together. Probably the most important lesson that God has shown me, through my husband, is what love looks like.

When we first meet someone and become friends or date, it’s easy. We can’t wait to hear their voice on the phone. Or see them at the end of the day and share what’s happened to us. We love cuddling and holding hands and asking questions about the other person. Our culture does a great job of displaying the excitement of new love.

What it does a horrible job showing us is what happens after the first kiss… or wedding… or new baby.

After the excitement wears off, after we know each other’s secrets, some of us have bought into the lie that we aren’t “in love” anymore. And the truth is, for many of us, we aren’t. Because being “in love” is an emotion that has very little to do with loving someone. Being “in love” is a feeling that is wrapped up in us. Loving someone is about showing love to another.

I realize this isn’t a new concept. Many people, far wiser than me, have written about the active, verb form, of love. But now I know how to recognize it and hold on to it and cherish it for what it is.

Sometimes love looks like simple things: a bouquet of flowers, a love note, stopping at the store on the way home from work for desert. Or letting the other person choose the movie you’ll watch for your date night. Or making dinner when you know your partner has had a long day. However, as relationships develop and mature, love can look like unexpected things.

Sometimes it looks like waking up in the middle of the night to change the baby’s diaper. Or letting a child climb into bed between you and fall asleep after he’s had a bad dream. Sometimes it look like waking up early to take care of the infant so you can let your spouse sleep in.

Sometimes it looks like going out of your way for your partner’s family. Or encouraging your spouse to pursue a hobby that they love, even if it means less time that they will have to devote to you. Sometimes it looks like taking items off of their to-do list, even though you’ve already worked a 10- hour day, because it means that the housework will get done that much quicker.

It looks like holding hands through contractions and taking notes during a visit to the lactation consultant. It looks like taking second jobs to earn money for your children. It looks like admitting when you’re wrong and asking forgiveness. It looks like second, and third, and fourth chances.

Since we’ve been married, we haven’t celebrated Valentine’s Day. This isn’t because we hate florists or greeting cards. Quite the contrary. It’s because we’ve made a conscious decision to recognize and be thankful for the true displays of love that we try to show each other every day through serving each other.

And that’s the biggest lesson… Love looks like service and sacrifice. After all, that’s the example of love that Christ displayed for us on the cross. That’s the example of love that we are compelled to show our children. We love because He first loved us.

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