On a mountaintop, a sweet young man nervously guided a lovely young woman through the snow-packed trails. The towering evergreens created a picturesque tunnel. Softly falling snow frosted their branches almost making them seem to bow in silent affirmation of these two. They came upon a sheltered clearing where the young man stopped and silenced their conversation by a simple kiss. So much expressed in that kiss—caring, kindness, acceptance, desire, love.
As the kiss ended, she heard words she never thought she’d hear, “I love you. Will you marry me?” And, there, in his hand, a beautiful ring—a testimony of his sincerity and desire.
Her dream come true. Love. Marriage. Happily ever after.
At least that’s what Hollywood and Disney taught her to believe. Happily. Ever. After.
But what does it mean to love when it isn’t “happy?”
What does it mean to love when there are times you don’t even like the other person?
What does it mean to love when you don’t feel butterflies in your stomach?
Love is an action verb more than an emotional feeling.
While the emotional feeling you can get when you love someone is wonderful, it doesn’t stay the same. It morphs, deepens as life moves forward.
Real Love costs.
John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
While “lay down one’s life” could mean death, I believe it also has a day-to-day implication: being willing to set aside my own desires out of my love for another.
Real love is sacrificial. Real love seeks the other person’s best — always. Real love accepts me for who I am. Real love encourages you to become all you were created to be. Real love is freeing. Real love is unconditional. The Bible refers to this as agape love — a self-sacrificing Godly love. “Sacrificial love is not based on a feeling, but a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own.”
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
When that young woman accepted the young man’s proposal, she had no idea what it meant to love him. After 32 years of marriage, she’s beginning to get the picture.
As we approach Valentine’s Day this Saturday, I look at that sweet young man, now older with tinges of gray in his hair, and rejoice over the extraordinary love he gives me everyday. We have learned to weather the storms of life together. We’ve survived a crisis that threatened our marriage. We’ve learned what we promised in our wedding vows:
“…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death.”
This extraordinary type of love demands everything I have every day. It demands I choose daily to honor my covenant made with God and with my sweet husband. It requires relying on my Heavenly Father every day to love through me. This love sets me free. There’s no escape hatch when things get tough. There’s no loophole when feelings are diminished. Unconditional love lasts all the way to death.
Real people learning what real love means experiencing real joy-filled freedom.