Valentines day has come and gone. Whew! I am not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day.
Why you ask? Is it because I am bitter and don’t like love? Oh wait–I blog about recovering from infidelity, I’m just harboring anger and hurt. Nope, while my aversion for the holiday the past 2 may have been slightly more intense, my apathy toward it has been there a long time. There seems to be so much pressure around the day, February 14th, every year. From stores, television commercials, on line retail its presented as the day that you better give the perfect gift to the perfect person in the perfect way, with the perfect smile and perfect sentimental card…I am pretty sure you see where I am going with this. While I would never tell anyone who loved me I didn’t appreciate being thought of by any gesture that day, anyone who knows me well enough can attest to the fact that I proclaim, love me all the other 364 days of the year. I don’t want forced love. Pressured love. Stressed love.
A gorgeous arrangement of flowers is wonderful. A new pair of earrings or eye catching necklace lovely. A planned, organized, expensive dinner out luxurious. But when the day is over, and 15 February comes around will any of those gestures truly change your opinion or definition of love? Will any elaborate holiday event sustain you months later? Don’t get me wrong, beauty and focus on what is important is in the eye of the beholder. And, yes at the risk of sounding hypocritical I have pieces of jewelry, when put on brings back memories and feelings flood my heart. Or when seeing a photo all decked out with smiles of joy from a dinner out stir emotions. Those gifts and gestures serve a purpose I know they do but…
To me it’s the every day little things that I want out of love. I want simple daily actions and reactions to show me love rather than one day out of the year where it all better be perfect or it doesn’t count. A friend asked me a few years ago what I felt the definition of love was. She was seeking a tangible definition. I sat for a second contemplating the question. What was my answer? What is a healthy definition of love?
In a quick silent prayer I remember saying, “Ok God what do I say here? I don’t want to screw this one up. Give me the answer.” Then it hit me, my answer to her was the following.
They are Bible verses taken from 1Corinthians 13:4-8. That is the love, to me that is the perfect, healthy definition of love. One that I try to live out. Now take a second and indulge me, re-read the verses aloud but this time replace the word “love” with your name….
…no seriously….try it…
…I’ll wait…really do it…
Did you? Take a minute and think about how that made you feel. If that exercise had the same effect on you as it did me, you are still a little taken back. A trusted mentor asked me to a few years back. I remember reading and rereading the passage that way multiple times, feeling extremely convicted. If these verses are to be my guidelines I remember being asked, “how are you doing with that”? It was a true change in perspective. And more than just on some specific day in February because Hallmark and the jewelry stores said to. Those are some seriously hard attributes to carry with you each and every day, in each and every situation. I have been far from perfect in attaining them all the time. Let’s be honest. I truly haven’t been good at carrying out even a few at a time. Never the less, they give me my road map. They are expectations I know my Father God has for me to try and live out.
In the immediate aftermath and the truth of my husbands affair…I did NOT live out those verses. It took me some time to regain appreciation and belief in them again. Even harder was the reality that I was not asked to love like this only after receiving it. No where does it say to give it even with expectation of receiving it. There were days when not being easily angered were impossible. There are days that still are. Patience…ha ha….that had to be an attribute I could be excused from with all I was going through. If there was ever a time that I could keep a record of wrongs, surely this was the time. Rude, I could be rude. He had to feel embarrassed and shamed too, here was my chance to throw some verbal jabs at him. Envy, I remember being so envious of friends’ whose marriage were so wonderful. Wanting, desiring to be in an easy, happy marriage. Then one day, not long after everything was made known, I was praying and reading this passage with my name inserted when I came to, “…Love does not delight in evil…” I had read this verse many times in my life but this day there it was, that whisper, that tug on my heart, telling me I was letting evil win. By not living out these verses I was letting this horrible thing take more from me and evil win. By holding on to even the slightest idea that I had a right to be mean, have that list of mistakes ready to throw in his face, let my temper get the best of me I was taking away from all the good still left and worth fighting for.
Loving again as we are called to do had to begin with TRUTH. Truth in facing what happened. Truth in the consequences because of what happened. Truth as to why it happened. Truth that there was going to be a lot of work ahead of us. Truth was raw unhindered communication about everything. Truth was pain, gut wrenching traumatizing pain. Truth, hard pressed, walls down, vulnerable truth from both of us. There were moments, days, weeks where all I had was truth. Even if that truth was just being unsure about anything or unable to even want to talk about it for just one day. Truth gave way to the others aspects of love, slowly and with determined purpose gaining their way back into my actions and reactions to my marriage and husband and even myself again.
In verses 7 and 8 we are reminded that Love, “…always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”. Not the kind of love we are limited to as humans, but a different, heavenly kind of love. One that has no limits. One that can persevere even in the midst of darkest moments. Love protects, meant more than my feelings always being protected, but that love was protecting my marriage at all costs. Love always trusts wasn’t about having faith in even my husband being perfect and not sinning. Trusting love was about knowing God loved my husband, my marriage and me more than this trauma. Knowing God’s love for us would begin and continue to offer healing and reconciliation and change. Hope, love always hopes, an un-abandoned hope that sees past our human pain and guttural reactions to selfish choices. Love has the hope to see where we will end up, it has blessing of knowing the outcome and refuses to give into what the world says is unforgivable. Love always perseveres, with determination, tenacity, persistence, and continues the course despite challenges. Even when we may not see the value in pushing forward, love does and presses on.
Valentines day came and went this year, once again, with no cards or gifts exchanged between my husband and I. Like it has for over 25 years even before we were married. For me defining love is more than just that day and the sentimental reactions to a national holiday. It’s the other 364 days that I make every effort to live according to four verses in the Bible out loud and proud. This journey has been a work in progress to a better understanding and a stronger definition of love. Behind my choice to defining love are those four verses, with my name before each attribute and my desire to live them in accordance with my faith.