“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
1 John 4:8
Growing up my favorite movie was Cinderella. The year Disney gloriously released it I’d choose it almost every time my Daddy took me with him to the video rental store. (Remember those?! I miss them!) So that year for Christmas he bought me Cinderella, it was the perfect gift! But I remember driving with him down to Video City not long after that, looking at all of the movie options and then picking Cinderella and taking it up to the register where my Daddy was waiting for me. I remember him looking down at me, confused, and saying, “But you already have this movie.” Ahahaha yes I did but it’s the one I wanted so to me it made perfect sense to pick it, never mind if I had another copy waiting for me at home.
My favorite part of the movie was, of course, THE BALL!! Cinderella arrives in her sparkling baby blue dress, and the prince immediately leaves his throne to meet her. She curtsies, he kisses her hand, they begin to dance. And as they waltz outside, staring adoringly into one another’s eyes, the song that plays says this: “So this is love… mmmm… so this is love… so this is what makes life divine. I’m all aglow and now I know the key to heaven is mine…”
So I definitely internalized THAT message. Yes, wow. I thought that love meant every sappy thing we’ve been taught it means. Love meant a Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet, love meant breakfast in bed and kisses under the mistletoe and bouquets of daffodils just because. As a Mother love would mean running with my children through the sprinkler and colorful finger paints and bedtime stories and sweet cuddles with sweet kisses.
And yes, absolutely all of that is the red ripe fruit of love… but I had yet to learn that those sweet gestures were certainly not all there was to it, to true love.
When I was 19 I boxed up most of my clothes & books & fiestaware and moved to Mexico for the first time. I was there to do a DTS, and as part of our missionary training we were learning how to do “puppet ministry.” If you just laughed, it’s okay… so did I. I am not really a fan of puppets… but many children are, they LOVE watching stories unfold, being acted out by those little felt friends. I remember being in “puppet class” (don’t worry, I’m still laughing too) sitting in a circle with my classmates, a puppet hanging on each of our arms, and our teacher told us we were going to go around and practice speaking in our “puppet voices.” Oh heck no. Kill. Me. Now. That was the internal reaction going on in me, PUPPET VOICES?! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?! I really didn’t want to have anything to do with those puppets and I was starting to think the whole missions thing wasn’t for me after all. But then… a song started playing in my head. GOD started playing a song in my head, and it went like this:
“So this is love..mmmm… so this is love….”
I finally began to understand that love was so much more than a waltz with Prince Charming. It’s been five years of learning that truth now… and this love thing has been HARD WORK.
What I’ve discovered is that true Love is doing something you absolutely don’t want to do… because it will bring joy to another person. Love is saying goodbye when God says “go” even though you want to stay, Love is waking up at every hour of the night, keeping your child’s fever in check. Love is scrubbing a floor that will be filthy again tomorrow, because your babies need a clean place to play, Love is buying a plastic rose that you don’t need or want because you see how hard the man is working who’s selling them on bus after bus of apathetic passengers. Love is explaining for the thousandth time to your boy that he hurts your feelings when he screams at you. Love is rubbing your girls back as she vomits all over that blanket you just washed. Love is letting her have the bigger half of the cookie, even though it’s your favorite kind. Love is giving away the soap who’s sweet fragrance made you cry, because she needs it more than you do. Love is sharing your expensive peanut butter, Love is leaving out the mushrooms even though you like them. Love is holding screaming children & saying “I’m sorry” & accepting apologies & watching his favorite movie again & getting out of bed to get that glass of water for her & staying up way past bedtime to help her with that school project she didn’t bother to tell you about until after dinner & searching high and low for his favorite shoe, even when he has so many others he could wear and we’re already running late & killing that spider even though it’s scaring you just as much as it’s scaring her & letting them help you with dinner even though it’ll take twice as long to make.
Love is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and yes.. the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.
That’s why I call this space, “So this is Love.” So THIS is Love… hard, often-seemingly-unimportant, monotonous, beautiful, joyful, heartbreaking, heart-filling, work.
& I’d have it no other way.