Friday, February 14, 2014

True love.

It's that time of year again- candy hearts, construction paper valentines, and rose petals. Love displayed for the world to see in pink cellophane wrapping and red window clings. Sappy sayings on cards, hour long reservations at restaurants, and mobs of men buying last minute get-out-of-the-dog-house-free gifts of chocolates and giant, stuffed puppies.
Whatever happened to love?
Don't get me wrong. I think men should show their women how much they love them. And the occasional box of chocolates or bouquet of flowers throughout the year is an important way to show that love. And I think it's darling when a little boy hands his mama a handmade "I Love You" card, or a daddy buys his little girl her first red rose.
But when did love become so easy?
Buying candy and lighting candles is the easiest way to love. I don't want a love purchased with a fancy dinner and a black tuxedo. I'd rather celebrate the hard kind of love.
The kind that takes grit, and commitment, and passion, and hard work. The kind that is gnarly, and not fun, and soul wearing. The kind that is a choice and a sacrifice, and a work of art, not just a cheap pay off. The kind that bears true fruit, not simply earning another year of peace from the old ball and chain. The kind bought with a price far higher than jewelry or electronics.

Let's celebrate the old man who cares for his wife of sixty years, trudging his weary bones to the nursing home every day to see her beautiful blue eyes. Eyes that are dimmed from the sparkle they once had, eyes that forget the faces they once treasured. Let's treasure the tears that drop on their wrinkled, clasped hands when he has to leave her side, the kiss they share when they must part.
Let's honor the mother, who patiently builds block towers for hours on end, and endures tantrums with patience, and endlessly trains and trains and trains her children, when she'd rather give up and give in and let it be. The mother who wipes bottoms and noses, and logs hours of rocking in the middle of the night. Who holds feverish babies, and paces floors worn with worry, and spends every waking moment working and praying for their health, and happiness, and eternity.
Let's reward the fathers who toil every day, and come home beaten and weary from the world. A world they face and bear on their strong shoulders, so that their wives and children don't have to feel that weight. Fathers who put aside their exhaustion and take the time to play peek-a-boo with an infant craving his love, or tickle the toddler that glows from his affection.

Let's commemorate the husbands who love their wives with deeds, and not just words, and on every day, not just on the days society demands it of them. Who wash the moldy, week old dishes, and spend their Saturdays fixing clogged pipes and squeaky doors. Who lead their wives with prayer, and honor them with their thoughts, and love them, wholly and alone. Who fight every day against a culture that does not expect them to be men, does not want them to be men, a culture that belittles them for striving to be men, and who stand up as men still.
Let's thank the wives who live their vows, and stand by their man, and serve him in the mundane days. Who cook dinners, and wash clothes, and rear children, and let their husbands be boys every once in awhile. Who adorn themselves in humility, and grace, and battle against the pressures of a world that values the opposite. Who choose to love, when they'd rather walk away.
Let's memorialize the daughter who serves selflessly by filling needs others can't meet, and the brother who serves God in ways we may not see.  Who give of their heart, and time, and energy so others can rest from their own weary toils.
Let's remember the aged grandmother, caring for the grandfather who is slipping away before her eyes. Who doesn't remember dates, and details, and names like he once did. Who's very personality and essence is changing. But she sticks with him. Because she swore to do so, even in the unlovely.

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13

That, my friends, is true love. Not this papered and candied confection of love that we "celebrate" once a year. Because love is patient, and kind, and selfless, and true. And not made from teddy bears and Hallmark towers. Love takes from the lover. And expects nothing back.  

But mostly, love is a Man, on a cross, bleeding red for you and me.

"We love because He first loved us."
1 John 4:19

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