I write about love, because I want to understand love, what it really is.
Love is…romance? It is Valentine’s Day soon, hearts turn toward the romantic side of love as we near the day. It is just the way we women are hardwired. We love a good romance.
I am, earlier on this Saturday, sitting next to my husband in the van. In the back, the children are watching a Little House on the Prairie DVD Christmas special because there is nothing else to watch in the van while driving home on a rainy afternoon. And because we will do whatever it takes to maintain a quiet and scream-less ride home. I turn towards my husband, hoping to spark conversation, visions of soul mate connections flash through my head like sugarplums.
“What is your love language,” I ask. I ramble on about mine, and then turn expectantly towards him, waiting for light bulbs to start flashing brightly over the top of his head. He drives, and looks slightly uncomfortable. No lights, not even a flicker. “I haven’t read the book in quite a while, “ he offers instead, as if this might get him off the hook.
I prod again, looking for a satisfactory answer, and he gives one that comes up short in my mind. We have these conversations often, he and I. Those conversations where one is looking for some love offering and the other is not quite sure what that love offering might entail.
Love as a sentiment often eludes our relationship. I look for that emotion that brings butterflies that lift hearts on their delicate wings and set them flying. He looks for stability and consistency, like a rock in rugged terrain, unaffected by the wind and rain. We are two different creatures, with different designs and trademarks.
Love is…words? We can tack words like “I love you” and “forever and always” on the end of a sentence, and they become a phrase that is uttered without thought of their meaning. I study words the way others examine a rare jewel. I turn words over and choose those that best represent my heart. I wish I could say that I do not use words impulsively, rashly. I can be quick to say that which I do not mean. In spite of my love and appreciation of words. In spite of my love and appreciation of the one who holds my heart and affections.
He calls me sweetheart, but I often am not sweet. I can be very sour, thoughtless. My words can sting like a briar thorn stuck in a thumb. Like a hot searing burn acquired by placing one’s hand too close to the flame. I often forget to say “I love you.” In spite of all this and so much more.
Love is…a feeling? I usually don’t feel in love with my love. Our life is busy. We race against the clock. I am mostly tired and cranky at the end of the day. I’m overwhelmed with my life, at the best of times. At the worst of times, I feel depressed and discouraged. I cannot say that my life has been easy or stress-free. We rarely have time to talk, and when we do find the time, it is often late at night when our minds are exhausted. We are in a stage of life that many people give up and let go.
We hold on for love. We fight for our marriage. It has not been an easy ride. In fact, it has been downright difficult. We have the odds against us, and they are stacked higher than a mountain that scrapes the sky. We fight for love. It is what binds us together.
Love is… consistent, unwavering. It doesn’t change. It remains faithful regardless of the company in which it intermingles, the circles in which it chooses to mix and socialize. Love is so much more than talents, gifts, knowledge, belief systems, and empowerment. It is greater still than martyrdom and selfless abandonment. Love is patient, even when others are not. It is kind in spite of cruelty. Love does not want what it cannot have. It does not make of itself more than it ought, it never puts itself on a pedestal. Love is not rude, even in the face of ignorance. It is not self-serving, but rather looks to serve others rather than itself.
Love is… slow to get angry, and it never keeps a checklist on how many times it has been wronged. Those kinds of records are pointless to love, serving to fuel anger and resentment. Love does not get excited when others fall prey to hard times, but rather is turned on by words of truth and authenticity. Love has a way of protecting the ones in its care, like a mother hen fusses over her baby chicks and keeps them safe from harm. Love trusts things are going to work out, hopes for the best, and love never gives up. Love is true and resilient, it lasts; you know it is the real thing when it remains in spite of trouble and difficulty because true love never fails.
He vacuums the kitchen as I write these last words. Love is a husband that allows you to sit and express your thoughts while he tidies the house before bed. Love is a husband that lies down with your babies and gently strokes their hair while they fall asleep. Love is a husband who looks up information and finds the money for a trip, even when the budget has not allowed for this. Love is all this, and more. We have love, and often don’t even realize it is there. It is in simplicity that love is its purest and best.