As we all bask in the afterglow of Valentine’s Day, I’ve been thinking about a few things. First, everyone is super jazzed on Facebook and Twitter to buy half-priced candy. I’m really having a hard time understanding this desire. So, you’re going to buy a half-priced box of chocolates, in which you may like approximately 10 percent of the offerings. The other 90 percent are going to be bitten into, then maligned with a twist of your lips then thrown away. Even half-off, that seems like a bad deal.
Second, I am thinking about love. A few days before Valentine’s Day in 2004, I walked into Spotsylvania Presbyterian Church, where my band-mates, Chip, John, Ed, and Bryan were already set-up for .HEREtoday. practice. I told them that in my glove compartment was a diamond ring (still the most expensive thing inside my house) and that I was going to propose. We already had a show booked for Valentine’s Day at a coffee shop in Arlington, VA. John brought up the obvious, “You’re going to propose at our show, aren’t you?” Yes. I was.
Between that conversation and the show, I met with Becky’s dad at a restaurant near Williamsburg, VA, to ask for his blessing, and I drove all the way to Portsmouth to pick up Elizabeth (Becky’s sister), so she could be there for the gig. Oh, how I miss that Subaru Impreza sometimes; what a faithful car it was.
Becky, obviously, said yes.
I genuinely feel that I love Becky more today than I did on February 14, 2004, and actually even more than I did on October 30, 2004 (the day we said, “I do”). But here is the thing: the reason I love her more now is that in between 2004 and 2012, we have not always gotten things right. There have been times where I have been really upset with Becky. There have been times she has let me down and there have been times where she has said things to me that hurt. Likewise, there are times I have said hurtful things to her. There have been many times I have let her down. We’ve had arguments; one famously culminating in her hurling a $4.00 cupcake at me. We’ve done the silent treatment. I love Becky more today than I did eight years ago because we’ve chosen to overcome.
Do we agree on everything these days? Not at all. Do we still argue? Sure, but in truth, with increasingly less frequency. Turns out this talking things through stuff actually works. What I’m trying to say is that love isn’t easy, and I’m not sure it’s supposed to be. Easy, emotional love is fragile. The love I am building is strong and resilient. It is not built on bedroom behavior but on commitment, honor and possibly more than anything, forgiveness.
But what spawns all that? Grace does. Marriage, love…they aren’t about ME being made happy. They are about experiencing joy through serving that which I love. They are not about ME at all. Love isn’t self-centered. True love is about forgetting about your wants and needs and investing what you would reserve for yourself into someone else. It is about surrendering your wants and desires and investing in what is best for someone else. Even in our brokenness, we can convince ourselves that our wants and needs are really what is best for the other person, and be that as it may; that isn’t truly surrender. True surrender is doing what it takes to make your her (or him if you are a female reader) feel loved.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul talks about husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the Church. I’ve heard a lot of lip service (and controversy) from this passage, but here’s the deal: Jesus gave up his life for the good of the church. He forsook glory, money, romance, respect (a cross is a lowly manor or execution), comfort…etc. etc. etc. Although, I sometimes lose sight of it in the glare from the shiny things in that list like money, glory, fame, comfort, romance, what I truly want from my marriage is for Becky to feel loved, supported, protected, and made holy.
And you know what? It works. I watch her read in bed, and I am in love. I watch her care for Rex, and I am in love. I hold her hand as we walk into a restaurant for a date, and I am in love. I bite my tongue and pray for wisdom when I feel stressed, and I find…well, what do you know, I really am in love.