On Love [and on choosing the true kind]

Every single year, this blog lands in my email inbox and every single year, I sit convicted and reminded that love isn’t always flashy. Reminded to chase after the things that last. The things that are real.

It reminds me that Hallmark and Hollywood don’t really know anything about true love. And that maybe we, as women, are doing all of us a disservice by feeding our minds and our hearts with love stories on TV. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a sucker for those cheesy Christmas Hallmark love stories. You know why? Because they always end happy. Hollywood romances show us men who surprise us with grand gestures and flatter us with compliments. But we very rarely ever see what that “happily ever after” looks like. Are they steady? Do they work hard? Are they honest? There’s so much more to it than what can be shown in an hour and a half.

Maybe we are defining romance in all the wrong ways.

Because true love isn’t always flowers and candy and candlelight dinner. Sometimes it isn’t what we’re told a grand and beautiful love story looks like.

Sometimes love is messy.

I said it just the other afternoon—bags under my eyes from an early morning at church and a sleepless night before. I smelled of sweat and kids and my hair desperately needed a wash.

What if people wrote romantic comedies about men and women cooking lunch and dozing off while reading? What if the next ticket box seller was about two people who got food poisoning and wound up going in and out of the bathroom all afternoon? Would people still watch them if they weren’t full of kissing and candles and Valentine cards?”

So, if love isn’t all the things the movies tell us it is, what is it?

Maybe love looks like coming home from work to a sink full of clean dishes. Sacrificing your time on the phone because one of you needs to study. An afternoon of rollerblading when only one person cares anything about going. Maybe it looks like driving 5 hours and spending the last of your gas money so that the other person doesn’t have to.

Maybe love looks like closing your mouth when you want to rebuttal—taking the time to hear what the other person is feeling. (Even though everything inside of you wants to say, ‘I’M RIGHT, STOP ARGUING WITH ME.’)

Maybe it looks like being held in the back of the car as the panic attack subsides. — him singing hymns over you as you re-learn the rhythm of normal breath. Maybe it’s laying down the nice restaurant and the date night because one of you had a really hard day — recognizing that simply being together is enough.

But Love—true love—is always one thing. Steadfast. And it always mirrors Jesus love. And Jesus love is always about the ‘other.’

I lay in bed thinking about it this morning, rain hitting the side of the old window, painted shut with old weathered white paint. I heard the family downstairs going through their normal, early morning routine.

Breakfast. Dressed. 7am. Slam. The front door shuts as they head out to school.

Nothing flashy. Nothing you’d make a movie about.

A normal, Tuesday rainy morning. And yet, in the few hours they were awake and all under the same roof, a thousand moments for the mother to choose true love.

Patience when the son refused to put on his school uniform. Lips of kindness when the daughter was disappointed with breakfast. A self-sacrificing spirit from a who mom has done the day to day mundane tasks of parenting by herself while her husband works 12 hour shifts.

A thousand moments to think of someone other than herself.

If true love is really about Jesus love— about loving someone sacrificially in the day to day—then what Valentines Day stands for can be every day and is so much bigger than what we make it out to be.

Sometimes loving another person isn’t butterflies and flirting and smiles.

Sometimes loving another human is really, really hard. 

Some days, there will be flowers. And love notes. And dates. And others, there will be work and Netflix and walks in the neighborhood. There will be early mornings and late nights and hard conversations. And laughter. And tears.

And a thousand moments to think of someone else.

A thousand moments to CHOOSE real love—Jesus love.

And that love never fails because it is always coming from the One greater than ourselves.

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