The snow is flying sideways like rice at a wedding, and I’m reading Lore Wilbert’s blog post about marriage. She writes:
“‘We don’t treat our home like it’s the place where we can ‘be real,’ as though every other relationship in our lives deserves the fruit of the Spirit, but at home we can drop the facade and level all the pent up frustration of the day at one another.’ I said, ‘[My husband] should get my best self, the best of the Spirit’s fruit in my life and heart, not the worst self.'”
Having said that, Lore acknowledged that that this kind of marriage talk usually elicits a few eye rolls from the jaded cynics among her readers. “Just wait,” they say.
My patient husband and I experienced some of that in our early married life as well. “This won’t last,” jeered the nay-sayers.
Even so, thirty years later, we still refuse to submit to the “Just wait” narrative about our marriage, and are persevering in our commitment to live as “heirs together of the grace of life”–which includes loving each other by being grace-givers–“our best selves”–here on this country hill.
After all, as believers, we want the people who know us best to love us most. That’s counter-cultural, I know, in this world of picture-perfect posts and curated images offered up for virtual strangers to “like.”
If our everyday lives are where the fruit of the Spirit is most visible, Truth becomes more important than sentiment. We need a durable love that will sustain us through home improvement projects, sick kids, and tired middle-aged bodies and souls.
Since it seems that all the important words about love have already been written, and written well, I have been paying attention to them. This curated collection from some of my favorite writers and thinkers is offered to anchor our thoughts in a biblical understanding of love–with one cautionary message to parents from a source that might surprise you.
As we plow our way into February and join the world in celebrating the holiday of hearts (in which love is most discussed but perhaps least understood) let’s bring with us the understanding that love, romantic or otherwise, is a 365-day-per-year laying down of our lives for the beloved.
John, the Beloved Disciple
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3:18)
“Is it easy to love God?” asks an old author.
“It is easy,” he replies, “to those who do it.” (From The Four Loves, 288)
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” (From Joyful Christian, 140)
“Love is willing to be inconvenienced.” (From Mark of a Man, 118)
“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” (From No Man is an Island)
Karen Swallow Prior
“Charity–godly love–cannot be separated from truth. Not just lofty transcendent truths, but the truth about the here and now and all the reality it entails–including our mortality. Truth is true and love is loving only in its application.” (From On Reading Well, 151)
“Love in this world doesn’t come out of thin air. It is not something thought up. Like ourselves, it grows out of the ground. It has a body and a place.” (Hannah Coulter, 88)
“You can’t give yourself over to love for somebody without giving yourself over to suffering.” (Hannah Coulter, 171)
“The risk of love
is that of being unreturned.
For if I love too deep,
too hard, too long
and you love little
or you love
me not at all
then is my treasure given,
flown away lonely.
But if you give me back
passion for passion,
return my burning,
add your own
dark fire to flame my heart
then is love perfect
hot, round, augmented,
whole, endless, infinite,
and it is fear
that flies.” (Polishing the Petosky Stone, 75)
“Love is one of the slipperiest words in the language. There is no other word in our society more messed up, misunderstood, perverted, and misused as the word love. Complicating things even further, it is a word terribly vulnerable to cliché, more often than not flattened into nonmeaning by chatter and gossip. The most relational word in our vocabulary ends up being all me directed, all self.” (As Kingfishers Catch Fire, 37)
“Those whose love we wanted but didn’t get, we emulate them and that’s the only way we have, in our power, to get the closeness and love that we needed and desired.” (Comment about his parents from On Broadway)
“Love isn’t how you feel; it’s what you do.” (The Wind in the Door)
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, let’s abide in love, but let’s not lose sight of it’s true meaning amidst all the red tissue paper and glitter.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (Jesus from John 15:9)
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Heart Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash
I link-up with a number of blogging communities on a regular basis. They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week. I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers. You can look for me this week at Purposeful Faith, #TellHisStory, Let’s Have Coffee, Faith on Fire, Faith ‘n Friends and Grace & Truth.