It is easy to fall in love.
Seeing another person with rose-colored glasses.
Witnessing firsthand as they put their best and most romantic foot forward.
The warts carefully hidden just below the surface.
The bliss of early desire so overwhelming, there is simply no room for doubt.
The rose-colored glasses start to fade. Little by little, those inevitable warts begin to surface.
Random acts of kindness become daily acts of annoyance. You start to see the person for who they really are.
And the only thing worse is that they start to see you for who you really are.
Last night, sitting with my husband at one of our favorite downtown Italian restaurants, I saw a glimpse of love so pure it will stick in my mind’s scrapbook for years.
No, it was not a romantic one-kneed engagement with a violin player in the background.
It was not a man giving his wife a dozen roses to commemorate their seventeenth month together.
It was not a couple sharing a bottle of wine to celebrate her big job promotion.
It was this….
My husband had gone to the restroom. I sat at the table alone, texting my mother about plans for the next day.
I happened to look over and see an elderly man, carrying his wife’s rather large purse. Just as I was about to make a dry humor comment about the purse matching his attire, he asked if I could slightly move my own purse, hanging from the back of my chair.
As I turned to do so, I saw his lovely wife. Behind a rather large walking contraption. We smiled at each other as she slowly walked past, while her husband proceeded to assist her in walking by our table and out into the bitter cold of a February winter evening.
I thought of that couple long after we left the restaurant.
How much work it must be to go out into public when having to maneuver such a large waking device. How frustrated she must feel not to have the same ability she longingly recalls.
How much easier it would be for him to bring her dinner, in the privacy and comfort of their own home.
Judging from the bright red lipstick (kindred spirits are we!) and the well-chosen attire, she enjoys getting out. Being in public. Surrounded by laughter, the clinking of glasses, the lights and decorations surrounding her at a welcoming Italian restaurant with her husband.
With her best friend.
True love isn’t roses on Valentine’s Day and a cameo on the Jumbotron at a football game.
It is having a spirit of servitude toward one’s spouse after years of hardship, and possibly a very long season of illness, handicap, or deep, personality-changing depression.
True love is holding the hand of the spouse that cannot reach out to hold yours. It is smiling in the midst of sadness. Forgiving when there is no apology. Hanging in when it seems easier to get out.
True love is recognizing that life is not about how happy you are, but the power to bring out happiness in others. It is loyalty, devotion, empathy, and kindness.
True love is taking your elderly wife out to eat, despite the discomfort and hard work involved. It is reveling in her smile, a distant reminder of the beautiful perfection of her youth.
True love is faithfully showing up to the nursing home, even when your spouse no longer remembers your name, or the beautiful life you made together. It is entering their world, as much as it hurts to deny your own.
True love is sometimes letting go. Oftentimes holding on. And constantly knowing which is best….for the one you hold dear.
True love is a God who adored humanity so much, despite their wicked, sinful, and selfish deeds, that He sent His own perfect son, a part of Himself, to die for this hopelessly broken world. Offering the only brand of repair humanity will ever know.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
True love is a man, arms wide open, hanging on a cross, asking His Father to forgive those that hurled hateful insults at Him, while wickedly indulging in His cruel death.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:24 (NIV)
True love is not about how others make us feel. It might just be more about recognizing the sacrifice made, that we surely did not deserve. And thus, paying it forward as best as we possibly can.
THAT is true love.