"Love is beautiful, but it is also terrible--terrible in its determination to allow nothing blemished or unworthy to remain in the beloved."
~ Hannah Hurnard ~
This quote is so incredibly timely that I almost had to laugh when I read it! My blog break (to scrapbook, honest...and believe me, I've got a LOT to show for my time "off") was much-needed, both for my house's sake (can you say DEEP clean?) and for me to finally get the chance while Pete was home for more than two hours to sit and just scrap. I've got TONS of pictures to put to paper, and of course I just *have to* include a story with each one. Funny thing is, the very thing that I've been dreading that has kept me from jumping headlong into this task was a very valuable lesson that God's been trying to teach me for a long time. And, interestingly enough, it is the main idea behind today's quote! Go figure.
My purposeful extended scrapbooking session was prompted by the realization of a rather "small" anniversary. I was sitting at Burger King the Saturday before last eating lunch with my two-year-old when a teen couple sat down next to us to share an order of fries. I had to stifle a giggle when the young girl asked her beau what he wanted to do for their anniversary, since they'd been together "so long"--surely a six-month anniversary warranted some serious celebration, right? So as the two of them discussed movies and fancy dinners and maybe even jewelry (?!?), my mind wandered back to when Pete and I were younger. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that November 4, 1988 was the day he asked me out. It seemed HUGE back then, but relatively insignificant now in the grand scheme of marriage, enlistment, babies, financial strains, deployments, and the REALLY big issues of life. Nineteen years. Our relationship is actually older than Pete was when we got married! Hitting the craft store after lunch, I realized that I'd not even completed srapbook pages for our high school years, so I determined to remedy that situation and get some scrapping done for once, even if it was painful to look at any of the pictures that brought up bad memories.
My mind has unconsciously recorded a timeline for the ugly events that went on in Pete's life that affected every facet of our married life several years ago, and like it or not, I can't help but see that timeline in the pictures we have. I know what was going on behind the scenes, and it's HARD to come to grips with the story behind the pictures. But the interesting thing is, even though my mind's eye can still see those things, when those memories play out in my mind, there really isn't any ill will left for him. When I look at that sweet face, I see the man I love--not what he's done. I never thought I'd be capable of forgiveness to the degree I have forgiven him, and I never expected to understand so fully the depth of what "true" love really means.
When you're sixteen (or even thirty?) and your view of love for a new object of affection is skewed by chemical reactions in the brain, that "crazy in love" feeling is all you see. You overlook obvious character flaws and even some pretty severe behavioral misdeeds because your beloved is just....perfect. You can overcome anything together--scale any mountain, tackle any problem, and "love" will be enough. Counselors of just about any faith will tell you that this flitty adolescent view of love is immature. Of COURSE it's immature. It's not based on a choice. So inevitably, reality sets in and the warts appear. Flaws become targets for our magnifying glasses of criticism, and every little thing our beloved does suddenly takes on a gravity that can bring 'love' crashing down like the Hindenberg. What's truly sad is that some people never make it past this. They never get to the point where the love found in 1 Corinthians 13 takes over. Their marriage never experiences that agape, unconditional love that blots out the ugliness.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
True, enduring marital love is a picture of the type of relationship Christ has for His church. It is not a love that dwells on problems, imperfections, flaws, or unmet expectations. It is a love that seeks to do good to the object of affection, with no expectation of having the sacrifice returned. It is the ultimate Photoshopped picture of perfection, and I am SO thankful that God taught me this lesson now while I'm still 'young' so I don't spend too many more years wasted on mourning the loss of that teenage fantasy. It's amazing to know that I have something better, and that it has nothing to do with how "perfect" my marriage is!
Bonnie is this week's In Other Words host--visit her Ink It Blog to see what she has to say about the quote she chose and to view other participants' blogs.