Love

This word seems to evoke different thoughts and feelings in pretty much every person.

Of course for a Christian, God is the author of love, He IS love. But thinking in more human terms...love can automatically give you a mental picture of a person (like a spouse), a place (like your favorite vacation destination), a thing (like your bed), food (like french silk pie), or some odd concept you haven't quite figured out. Maybe no matter how hard you try, you can't help but sing in your head "of all gifts is the greatest" after the word love? Unfortunately that pops into my head from time to time...ah, the culture we were raised in...sometimes it's harder than we think to escape.

But it's not my family's culture I want to escape, nothing about how my parent's portrayed love. In fact, I could argue that I grew up with parents who had one of the most loving and friction-free marriages around. I actually remember feeling annoyed at them for that sometimes (in my young, naive years when it sounded better to have parents with a "normal" marriage like everyone else - how stupid is that?!).

The other night I was at home for a bit while mom was cleaning out some old office drawers. I strolled in the room being semi-interested in what she was doing, but also trying to avoid helping (how's that for honesty?). She motioned to an old paper bag and informed me the contents were her and dad's letters to one another during their engagement. Dad was going to school in Kansas and mom was working in West Lafayette; so they wrote letters.

I grabbed the bag, sat down on the floor, and started to get a glimpse into people that I only know years later as seasoned parents having been married for over 35 years. Mom was a 21 year old nurse writing letters to her love on hospital stationary in between patients. Dad was a 21 year old college student who would take breaks from writing to his fiance to go on a jog with his roommate. The letters were cheesy, overly-informative of daily life, and easily showed the desperation of two people who just couldn't wait to be together. It was actually really sweet, and so fun for me to see a little of my parent's personality and what they were like years before their 5th child came along. It got a little weird when I realized they were both two years younger than I am now. Odd. Which of course typically leads me to wonder what in the heck they were thinking, but in hindsight clearly it worked out.

I've had little experience in my life with what we often refer to as "true love". But one thing I've come to realize from trial and error is when you truly love someone, you love them despite their faults. While that principle seems elementary, when you experience it yourself it takes on a whole new meaning. I remember the first time I really fell for someone, I knew they had faults, I could name them and I knew those same glaring annoyances in any other person would drive me crazy. I found it perplexing that the things that typically would gross me out or annoy me to death, just didn't. Loving someone despite their faults is actually kind of scary, because you suddenly realize you have opened yourself up to hurt. Well, most people realize the vulnerability...unfortunately, when you're young and naive and not serving Christ, things aren't so clear and you press on, unaware of the immense pain you could potentially experience. Unaware that "love" when Christ isn't involved is worthless.

I'm not sure many people get through life without having their heart broken, or breaking someone's heart for that matter. It's definitely bound to happen in the dating world, because expectations often aren't discussed and therefore not met. Once again, getting your heart broken is a fairly standard concept, but when it happens to you, nothing about it feels normal.

Valentine's day was pretty uneventful on my end seeing as I'm not in a relationship, nor desiring to be for that matter. But I have had a lot of thoughts rolling around. Thoughts of my younger parents, so in love despite not knowing what the years ahead would bring, but staying with that consistent love that God gave them. Thoughts of having to hurt someone who loved me. Thoughts of someone I first loved and how that affected/is affecting years and years of my life.

But mainly, overwhelming thoughts of the love of my eternal Father. Love that is permanent and constant and the only necessary thing in life.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness."
Jeremiah 31:3

8 comments:

Linda said...

Beautiful essay on love- thanks for sharing your thoughts ( and not embarrassing us too much in the process!)

Sarah said...

Great post, Emily...

Love how you tied it up at the end.

leah said...

oh wow. i love this.

i love you girl! :)

Christen Leigh said...

Really enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing. :)

Tricky said...

Love...a word I've been learning a lot about. Good perspective, thanks. Love ya :)

Marcelle said...

I actually got goosebumps reading this! Loved the portrayal of your parents....

Betsy said...

Em, love you and thanks for missing me this weekend! I will be with you in spirit!

Molly said...

Just now reading this. Thanks for posting your thoughts. I enjoy very much hearing them.