What is love?
Love is hard to describe. It can be emotional. It can feel like butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, excitement and anticipation. It can also feel like hard work.
After 26, almost 27 years of marriage, I have been through the gambit of emotions. The one thing I have learned during that time, is that love, even if it starts with the butterflies, that feeling doesn’t last very long. Oh I still get them with Cam, sometimes it’s a look he gives me, or when he helps me with housework, or just when we spend time talking, especially when he who pursues me. I have learned that this butterfly thing is not what love is all about. I think that is what we all have been duped into believing. Love is about making the choice to love no matter what, and then doing the hard work that cultivating that love takes. It is hard work, because it means being intentional. It means being Jesus with skin on to the other spouse. It means forgiving even when it hurts. It means saying the things that NEED to be said. It means that you need to get to know how the other one ticks, what makes their heart happy, and what hurts them, and then as much as you can avoiding the hurt. Love means putting up with their humanness.
Being human means that you do not have it all together. Being human means you are messy, emotional, and hard-wired to selfishness. So when the other person hurts you, most of the time it is unintentional. In the beginning it is usually unintentional, just someone stumbling around in unfamiliar territory. If not dealt with or if it is allowed to continue, hearts become hardened, motives are questioned, there is no trust. When one of the two in a marriage stops trusting the other, there is no love, there is just acceptance, a roommate situation. A slow dying of the heart (love) for that person, then there is a relationship that just barely exists. This is a hard place to live in, it is incredibly lonely. I think it is even lonelier than actually being alone. You remember the love and wonder where it has gone. I have been there. I thank God that I am no longer there, that I don’t live in the abyss of existing side by side.
I am now living in the life of expectation and anticipation. I am expecting the best out of Cam because my vision has changed. I am looking through brand new glasses. The ones I was wearing before were broken and dirty. I couldn’t see Cam’s heart clearly. I thought I saw his heart and his motives. I thought he was being difficult on purpose. I also thought that I was the only one trying. I see things differently now. I see his heart clearer now. His heart is for me, when I thought it was against me. I see his care, when I used to see his apathy. I used to see selfishness, where now I see a man who is doing his best in his stress filled life. Work has been hard for him lately, his ministry has been hard, his hobby (airsoft) has been almost non existent, and home has been really hard. He has been under incredible pressure, and so I see that at home, he feels safe to let off some steam. Where I thought he was angry and impatient with us, now I see that I am the only one he feels safe enough to vent with. What he didn’t realize, because I never told him, was how much I took everything he did or said to heart. After all the pain that has attacked us lately we have come to a place of security and in that peace. Outside of this place, life is still chaotic. Life and all that it throws at us hasn’t changed, only the lenses through which we see each other has changed. I believe that it is God who gave us new glasses.
Love looks better again, it is becoming beautiful again. There was a day that it was stunning, and I wait in anticipation for that again. I believe that it will look even better as we do the hard work of living a life of love. This can only happen through the originator of love. God is love and only He can help you to see another person through the lenses of love.
God’s love is incomparable. What we experience in a relationship with another human being is nowhere near as beautiful as the love we experience with God our creator. There is nothing on this earth even close. God’s love is always there, He looks at us always with love. We can be messy with our love, but his love is never messy, it is always pure, always honest, always good, and completely stunning. It is hard to believe that most of us don’t really see it or pay attention to the lover of our souls, we are indifferent, we take it so for granted that it doesn’t even enter our thoughts most days, but when we take the time to look for it, it stuns us, it overwhelms us. Love like this fills us up, it makes our hearts worship the one who loves so generously, so incredibly. We can’t help but be bowled over when we pay attention to the one whose name is Love. I want to live in that love, I don’t know why I stray from that place of love, why I look anywhere else for that love. I know that when I live within God’s love, when I intentionally seek out God, my whole world changes, my whole outlook on life is different. I no longer need anyone else’s approval, I no longer crave love from Cam, or my kids. I am able to love deeply, I splash love freely on those around me. God’s love is love that is uncontainable. It is beautiful, it is stunning to those who receive it.
Lately I have been selfish, I have not looked around me and seen the God love that is there for me, just waiting for me to take it. Because of that I have been unable to see the love that others have for me, my lenses shattered, my heart broke and became hard to the ones I am to love the most. I still loved, but not to my full capacity or potential. I thought my heart was open, when it was rusty and corroded. God is doing the hard work of fixing my heart, pouring His love into me, so that I can love like I am meant to. He is so good. I don’t deserve His grace, His mercy and most especially His love. I deserve worse than nothing for my selfishness, but that is not what God gives me. He gives me incredible, overwhelming and stunning love. I don’t deserve it but He loves me anyway, and because He loves me, He makes me deserving of love. He says I am loved, and I am because He says so. Love is a gift of God and we wouldn’t have it without the originator of love. He created it, without Him there would be no such thing as love. Do you have that kind of love in your life? It is there freely offered for anyone who chooses to believe in the one whose name is LOVE.
I have been to two weddings within one year, both important ones to me. Weddings remind me of God. I see God when two people pledge their lives together. When they promise to love each other no matter what. It reminds me of the day that Cam and I pledged our undying love. I look at that day from a distance now and see that I had no idea what that meant at the time. Love seemed so easy then. I had rose colored glasses on. My heart beat for Cam, and his did for me. My grandmother on my dad’s side told me once, when I was engaged to Cam, that I had no idea what love was yet. I kind of thought that was a weird thing to say, I thought of course I know what love was, I was getting married to the man I loved. We loved each other didn’t we? Little did I know at the time the wisdom of those words. She was preparing my heart for knowledge of what real love looked like. She saw what love really looked like through 40 plus years of marriage then. She saw how it could be messy, she saw how painful it could be, but she also saw what perseverance in love looked like, she saw what choosing to love no matter what looked like, and most importantly she saw what the love of God lived out in a marriage looked like. She experienced stunning love, and somehow she was telling me that there was so much more to real love than I was experiencing in that moment. She was wise. I now look back and can share that with my children.
Last year on Sept. 20, 2015 I watched my daughter Stephanie marry the love of her life. She married the young man who pursued her from childhood, her best friend.They dated a long time. When Harlen and Steph first started dating it was so cute to see their love blossom. Cam and I knew for many years before they started dating that Harlen was the one, we saw their love for each other before they did and we would tease them about it. 🙂 It was so easy to see. After they started dating Harlen would come over to the house to wait till Steph got home from work to see her. Often waiting at the end of the street to watch Steph walking home from the bus. I was often amazed to see the excitement that Harlen had when he saw her. Often he would bounce just slightly on the balls of his feet when he saw her. It was beautiful to see. I was so happy that someone else saw in her what I saw. I was so happy for them, to see them in love, and the depth of it stunned me. Once during this time of young love, I got a little jealous. Cam had never acted like that around me. When we dated it felt like I was the one pursuing not the one being pursued. I am sure that from Cam’s perspective it was different. However in that moment when I was watching Harlen bounce, I saw that was how much God loved me, I knew in that moment that God bounced for me, when He saw me turning toward Him. What an awesome picture.
As their years of dating turned into engagement their love deepened into an intense commitment to each other, a parent can’t ask for anything more than for their child to feel such deep love from another human being. It made me so happy for her. Harlen understood the treasure that was Stephanie and treated her as such. He cherished her.
Their wedding was one of the most beautiful that I have witnessed. It was filled with purity of love, dedication, commitment and a promise before God to not forget to love, even in the hard times. It was also the covenant to keep God in their marriage and strive to make Him the center of it. Stephanie was stunning, she has always been incredibly beautiful, but this was a whole new level of beauty. She shone! She loved Harlen and it showed in every aspect of her being. She walked in an engaged girlfriend and walked out a married to your best friend woman, excited about creating a new life with Harlen. Their wedding was so unique to them, full of fun games, and super heroes, and nerdy stuff, but it was especially filled with their love for each other, everything else paled in comparison to their joy in each other. I praise God for their love for each other, it was God wo created their love for each other. It was a gift that He gave to them. They have been married for almost a year now, and it still blows me away to see the depth of their commitment and love for each other! Yay God!! Only God could do this.
On Saturday August 20, 2016, I witnessed another special wedding. This wedding was for my youngest daughter’s best friend. They have been friends since they were almost 7, that was almost 13 years ago. During that time there were many sleepovers and play dates, and getting to know this young lady really well. We always said that she was another one of the Gray girls. I love this young lady and am so thankful for the friendship that Madison and her shared. Xyla is a beautiful girl, with a beautiful heart. I am so happy that she found the love of her life. I don’t know him as well as I know her, but I trust that she has picked well. He knows that he is a blessed man because of her. He knows that she is someone special, deserving of a great love. I was so blessed to witness their marriage. I saw the way they looked at each other, I saw the tenderness, and the fun that they have together. They are best friends as well as husband and wife and I am so happy for them. I saw them commit a lifetime to each other and I heard their commitment to keep God as the center of their marriage and because of that I know that it will be a blessed one. My daughter was overjoyed for her friend and had a hard time keeping her emotions from spilling out in tears of joy. She is very happy for her friends choice.