Friday, February 14, 2014
Beyond the fluff of Valentine's...
What I would love to write in this space today is how dreamy and sappy it is to be celebrating Valentine's Day with my true love. Who doesn't want the perfect love story at some point in their life?! Especially on Valentine's Day. But the truth and reality in this great big world of ours- even on Valentine's Day- or maybe especially so on Valentine's Day!- is that true love isn't as pretty and sweet as the cards, flowers, dark chocolates and fairytales that consume this holiday would like us all to believe. Those things are great. They are awesome and special even! They do say, "I love you" and they can certainly communicate what is in one's heart. I am not writing off dark chocolate sea-salt caramels wrapped up with a bow ever! But I am sharing my own heart and thoughts about what I have learned love to be. And I can tell you, it's not all rosy and chocolates.
In fact the deepest, most pure love that I have ever experienced in my 41 years of life most often has been shown to me not in the form of a tangible gift at all. It hasn't been showered on me when life has been it's prettiest. It has been in some of the deepest, darkest pits of life that I have felt loved, supported, cherished and comforted. The times when I look back in my life and know that love was holding me are times when flowers and chocolates would have failed, and even felt offensive as a gift of love. It strikes me as interesting that when I have needed love and care the most in my life that the most thoughtful, most meaningful gesture of love has been simply having someone sit next to me and weep with me, or hold me close and cry with me.
Love has shown itself faithful and true to me in an embrace at the airport in Chicago standing next to baggage claim.
It has stood by me as we sang, "It is well with my soul" as we said good-bye to Teagan at her memorial services.
Love has lifted me when I felt I couldn't bring myself to say, "I forgive you". Love was wrapped around me when I claimed that truth and it helped set my heart free.
Love was there when I cried out and wept over a load of fresh, warm whites to fold and found myself unable to breathe. It whispered to my heart, "look to the Heavens and trust me for your very breath".
Love has wrapped its tiny newborn finger around mine and made me believe in joy and Hope in this world again.
It has gotten up with me in the middle of the night, too many times to count, and helped give a shower or start a load of laundry and held a sick child.
Love has walked in the door and placed take-out on the counter. Too many times to count that as well. =)
It has scrapped the snow off the windshield and started the vehicle so that the inside was warm for travel.
Love tells me to "text him a grocery list" and says "no problem" when I say thank you for doing that errand/chore for our family again. And again. And again.
True love has shown me that it's not a tiny box wrapped with a big bow at precisely the right moment in time that reveals the heart, but the way it grins and smiles and says, "you look beautiful" even after a sleepless night or a ruthless day spent just trying to keep my head above water. Love looks at me when I am at my worst and says, "There is nobody in the whole world I would rather be next to at this moment in time, except you."
Love has dared to say that it would be easier for us to be apart, but it is far better to hang on and trudge forward together. Love has believed in the future of us even when the present has looked dim, and the questions outnumber the answers in life.
Love has said, "I'm sorry...I messed up...and I'm trying." It has allowed me to say the very same things.
Love has seen the ugly side of me. More than once. And yet it stands by my side to this very day.
Love has taught me so many things about God, others and myself.
It has been poured out to me in unexpected people, places and things. It has been undeserved, unmerited, and unleashed to me since as far back as I can remember.
Love has changed me, saved me, redeemed me, and it makes me want to be a better me. Not just today. Not because of flowers. Or chocolate or any other thing that can be bought or sold.
True love comes from the heart, comes from Above, and comes in such subtle ways that I sometimes miss seeing just how beautiful it is.
Today- this Valentine's Day- seems as fitting a day as ever for me to pause and look back and say thanks. To all the Love I have been given in this life. I am humbled, grateful, and my heart is overflowing with gratitude for such love. I only hope I can shower some of my love and gratitude back to God, to Chip who has showered me with so much and still gives me all these years, and to my family, friends and strangers too. One of my favorite things about true love is that it never runs out, gets old, dries up or falls short. It can be given and shared and it only grows from there!