In the ten years and one month since my husband and I got engaged, I have learned a great deal about love. In the six years and seven months since we first became parents, I have learned even more. And when I look now at the simple piece of artwork, exactly as old as our vows, that rests on our mantle and reflects 1 Corinthians 13:4 (a common wedding verse, read at our ceremony, too), I see so much truth about love in marriage, parenthood, and life in general.
“Love is patient,” — indeed, while in the trenches of life with little Littles, when the nights are short and the days are long, showing patient love to one another is a must. Whether it be a toddler-posed question (for the, I swear, 50th time) or a “Did you remember to buy the….?” answered by a blank, bleary-eyed look, patience and grace are a daily practice in building and maintaining a life together.
“love is kind…” — kindness comes in many forms. In marriage, it may be completing a household chore you know your spouse despises, or a simple offering of a sweet compliment in the middle of a long week. What kind love really does is acknowledge our humanness and reflect our ability to pick each other up when help is needed.
“it always protects,” — like beauty, protection is in the eye of the beholder. While I have thankfully never had to worry much about my husband physically protecting me from threats, I know he does so mentally and emotionally on a regular basis, for which I am most grateful. Currently the most appreciated protection he offers is to help me carve out a tiny bit of me-time each week, often in the form of a yoga class taken, not taught, as he knows it is exactly what I need to be able to offer him and our children my best.
“always trusts,” — for anyone who has ever been hurt or betrayed, trust can be a tricky element to allow. In a romantic relationship or friendship, trusting love is often gained over time. With kids, the (sometimes overwhelming) sense of trust in your abilities by some higher power who has placed this tiny being in your arms and care is much more immediate. Either way, you are dealing with someone else’s heart, and they yours. Trust to listen, to care, and to always be there are some of the best gifts of love we can give each other.
“always hopes,” — being Type-A planners who love to think ahead and dream of what is next to come, hoping is not hard to find when it comes to my marriage. My husband and I see such great potential in our kiddos and in each other, and we have hope – faith – that these beautiful dreams will in fact come to be. Even when our world falls apart a bit, we come back, together, with a longing for better days, buoyed by hopeful love in the meantime.
“always perseveres.” — Ah, yes. See what I just said there? The world sometimes falls apart. A month turns sour, illness prevails, or finances are threatened. No life is immune to such down swings, and no love, no marriage, and no family is either. This is where prevailing love shows its strength, its determination. Sometimes a hard situation means walking away, but often times life is not that cut and dry and we must stick it out, testing our love’s patience, kindness, and trust along the way. Perseverance may not come easy, but it will see you (both, all) through to the other side.
“Love never fails.” — it would be easy to look at the world and think otherwise. There is a great deal of pain, violence, and darkness around us. But if we continue to foster love, for ourselves, for each other, for our extended families and communities, then love will never die; in fact, it will do quite the opposite as with each demonstration of love we allow it to grow and spread, brining love and light to as many and in as many ways as possible. And unfailing love truly is possible.
So, please, take a moment to reflect on the love in your heart and in your life, and then, in whatever way you can, share it with others. For above all, I have learned in this life that giving love away only increases, never decreases, the joy we carry in our hearts.