to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for
Today is pretty much the day that love finds itself written about, verbalized, and thought of in varying connotations.
There have been some Valentine's Days in my life when I have had expectations of flowers, maybe a card - sugary delights in one form or another.
I have wanted time with my husband in quantities that he may or may not have been able to conveniently give.
When I think about that definition
...and those expectations
...and the marketing of all things fluffy and romanticized around me
it all just seems... shallow.
Don't misunderstand. Cards? YES! A favorite for sure.
Check "yes please" on all. Multiple times.
Perhaps it's the stage of life we find ourselves in.
Perhaps the necessity of facing end of life issues.
Perhaps just another step in the journey that God is guiding me through.
But this Valentine's Day I am seeing a completely different definition of all things LOVE.
What is it?
Patient... like calmly waiting on God's timing. Not forcing some one else to be something they aren't. Not trying to rush a process that only God can orchestrate. Patient.
Kind... such a simple word, but with remarkable meaning. We talk about how important it is to be kind to others. We teach our kids to be kind to teachers, other kids, people in authority. Great, really. But do we practice this in our own homes, with our own spouses, in every day life? Those mundane moments when we are tired, hungry, overwhelmed, maybe even hormonal and grumpy? Kind.
It is not
Jealous... like wondering what our spouse is thinking as that beautiful woman walks by. We know that God created beauty - and beauty can be appreciated, and LOVE says "I am secure in who God made me to be and I am secure in our love". Love also is not jealous of their time. Love says, "Do you have an opportunity to love? To give? To bless some one or something other than me? Than do it! Do it with JOY and do it with my blessing and whole hearted support!" (Can I just say, these two things are so hard for me? This part of defining love always gets me...)
Boastful... love doesn't look for all of the possible ways to make yourself look good. Quite the opposite.
Rude... snarky remarks, "teasing"... tearing down. Love isn't that. It's not even close to that.
It does not
Demand its own way... haughty, coercing, manipulating - demanding. When we do these things, we are not loving.
Keep a record of being wronged... no matter what. That means we don't throw it into their face every time we think they need to be knocked down a notch or two. "Well, you did this - therefore, I am entitled to that... No. No record of wrongs.
It never gives up... like never ever. It can't. Because it is God and God is it, and God has placed THIS LOVE in our hearts.
Never loses faith, is always HOPEFUL, and endures through every circumstance.
Every circumstance! Do you get that? It's not fluffy and romanticized.
It is real, tough, resilient, unyielding.
You know that Crowder song - "How He Loves?" To me that song paints one of the mot brilliant picture of this unyielding, true love. Imagine:
"Loves like a hurricane, I am the tree, bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy"
We can unleash love that strong!
It is "I will love you even though I don't like you right now"
It is "I will lay down my ideas/rights/expectations for you"
It is holding one another through the valley of the shadow
It is lifting a glass of water to their lips in sickness
It is taking care of more than your usual share of responsibilities so that they can get rest
Tonight, on Valentines Day, I won't be seeing my sweetie until 11:00. I will likely be completely out (nearly comatose) - asleep after a long day, and he will be even more exhausted.
And truly, it is one of the most loving Valentines Days in my life to date.
Because he is out there working 8 hours to provide for our family. Out of love. And I finally get that.
And then he will be studying, picking boys up, settling them at home with his mom, and then going to classes, while I volunteer. All for us. All from love.
And Webster - well, he kind of got it right. Love is profoundly tender. It can result in passion - for sure. It is affectionate in nature.
But I'm standing on the true definition. The definitions that daily challenge me. Stare me in the eye and show me how weak I am - but how dignified and strong I can be if I follow that love.
Right now, today, love is hearing about my family, 500 miles away from me, each taking turns to stand vigil by my grandma in her last days.
Exhausted, busy, sad, at times frustrated,
But still spoon feeding, patting, cleaning, speaking softly to an almost 90 year old woman who has spent hours loving each of us.
That's where it is at.
Today, for me, love is in a small hospice room,
behind a mop,
and in a class room.