Love is a many splendored thing (sometimes)
Love means never having to say you're sorry (an out-and-out lie)
Love actually (what does this even mean?)
It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all (sadly true)
Love is blind (also true)
What's love got to do with it? (Well, duh)
Many books have been written on the subject of love and just as many movies made and songs recorded. The above quotes about love are just a few that came to mind as I thought about this subject and its most prominent day approaching...February 14th. Love is a multi-billion dollar business, and movie-makers and book-sellers alike will produce just about anything and file it under the guise of "love" for the right audience. There is a popular book-turned-movie coming out this weekend touted as the perfect Valentine's-Day-going movie, but it quivers on the edge of the "p" word. Enough said, I don't even want to give it any glory by stating its name. Nothing in that movie is about true, lasting, genuine love.
But as recently agreed by a close group of friends discussing love this week, even though love is defined in the dictionary as a noun, it is also, and more importantly, a verb. I know this is not something new or profound and it most definitely is something you've heard before, but we took some time to really think about it. True love is sometimes absent of the things we commonly associate with the subject: Hot romance, butterflies in the stomach, passionate kisses, fairy-tale endings. And even though I am what I consider to be a romantic and I do believe in fairy-tale endings, and I love a good romantic comedy as much as anyone, I have realized in my many years of marriage that true love has nothing whatsoever to do with any of that. True love is acquired by means of hard work and longevity, living a life of selflessness for another, and then doing it all over again when you want to quit. It is sticking by someone when they are no longer able to give or no longer attractive. It's being there for them when they don't deserve it. It's hanging in there when life gets hard. True love is saying I choose you no matter what.
As a young woman I was a fine example of someone who associated love with googly feelings and, unfortunately because of that misconception, believed if the feelings no longer existed then love must be absent. Because of this mentality, I had many unsuccessful relationships and a failed marriage. But by the sheer grace of God, my present marriage has somehow lasted 35 years, and it is my husband who has truly taught me what it means to really love. In 2006 I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. When you have a diagnosis like that, it can make or break you. Because of the faithfulness of my husband, I can honestly say I am a much better person now than I was then. Instead of shying away from the hardships a cancer diagnosis can bring on a marriage, my huband was affected in quite the opposite way. He turned our uncertainties into action and went to work as my sole advocate. He found me the best care, secured care at discounted rates when my insurance company wouldn't pay, dueled with the insurance company to pay more when a charge was questioned, and took me for long rides in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. He invested in me with no promise of a good outcome or a return of any kind. His amazing dedication during that time sealed in me the true promise of love, a love that is not a feeling but an action carried out against all odds born out of something he held deep in his heart for me.
Don't get me wrong. I love romance just about as much as any gal. I have those kinds of memories with my husband as well...the many times he has booked a luxury hotel for us for a weekend getaway, or presented me with a diamond ring...or brought me flowers and chocolate when I least expected it. But nothing registers in my heart more than his commitment to me over the years. That is what resonates in my soul as true, enduring love. As you get older, I believe the truth of the matter is this: The common things we associate with romance and love silently fade as the work and commitment of love kicks in and serves the relationship with the gifts that have everlasting rewards. In the end, we won't remember how many dozens of roses we have received over the years, but how committed love has changed and transformed us. It's only in experiencing the devotion, the daily maintenance, and the unlovely part of loving someone that we experience love in its truest form.
So love has EVERYTHING to do with it! But it has to be true love, not pretend. I don't know if I will get flowers or candy or anything tangible this Valentine's Day, but I do know this: I have a husband who has stuck by me through thick and thin, in the good and the bad, on days when life seemed hopeless and I was as ugly as a frog on a toadstool...and that's all the love I need.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Posted by CC
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