Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I'm Looking For A Real Love, Baby

Come February, I always find myself thinking about love.

I punch paper hearts and string them around. I keep tabs on recipes involving cocoa and heavy cream. I wonder hard about what love looks like to my nine year old, or my twenty-one year old. Or my husband.

I buy paper plates festooned with hearts and set aside twenty bucks for surprises. Because I love them.

Go ahead, call me a sap. Say I'm Hallmark's biggest fool.
It's at least half true.

The problem is, I'm most comfortable with the Valentine's kind of love, the one that rolls into town now and then with its grand proclamations or a handful of chalky candy hearts.

The love I like best is all glitter and no glue. 

It's the easy, take me out to dinner, baby, kind of love. It's fun and endearing.
As its biggest advocate, I don't feel out of line saying it's even important.

But what about February fifteenth? What about April twentieth, or late July? How on earth do we really love?

I'm not so hot at the real kind of love.
I default to a steady selfishness, that quiet, orange-hot simmer way down deep that says I've done enough, I've done it all, and what has anyone done for me lately, anyway?

I send the obviously-needy child to his room because I don't want to deal with the particular way he oozes pain. I shut down after dark, when my husband or my oldest son wants to talk. I snap when my daughter interrupts me three times in a row. I hide my favorite box of cereal. I sigh when the doorbell rings.

We know what love is and who invented it. Jesus put it on and wore it around in broad daylight so we could sit today with our cups of coffee and our tired eyes and know for sure that it's real. It's possible to love by laying ourselves down, but we sure can't do it on our own.

I want to love greatly, everyday, but sometimes I need a place to re-start. And Valentine's Day fits the shoe. I guess that's why I let myself get tangled up in garlands.

To me, the silly, swoony love is a small reflection of the real kind of love that requires less sugar and more guts.

I want to hold fast to the truth, that everyone deserves a second chance, and a fortieth. That's how Jesus loves, and if He's really walking around in my tired bones, if He's breathing and serving and yucking it up with the neighbors through wonky ol' me, then surely I've got all I need to love in His wild, disarming ways.

Laugh if you must. Tell me again this holiday is an overplayed conspiracy.  
I'm not buying your candy, pal.

I'm resolute.
I'll go down swinging.
I'll go down with bittersweet chocolate under my nails and yarn in my hair.

I believe you can love well, and more shockingly, I believe I can, too.
Might as well practice up.



  1. Oh, beautiful. All I can say is me too. Real love isn't easy, but that's what we're called to do. Thank you for writing this

  2. Just wow. ...all glitter, no glue...you're reading my mind and heart today. Maybe my love for all that glitters (for real) is a metaphor for something much larger. Thankful for my great God and His strong glue. Love you, cupid cutie...

  3. Holy cow! This was exactly what I needed to read and I didn't even know it. As Oprah would say, Ah-ha moment!

  4. The way you write is exactly what's in my heart and just can't ever seem to find a way to express...want to be my communicator so I don't have to mess it up all the time (: As always, you encourage me with your openness and I'm so glad I found your blog for so many reasons. Hiding the cereal...for me it's the chocolate and I sigh as well when the doorbell rings. Usually it seems to ring in the middle of changing a babies messy diaper. Such is life. One God has allowed me to live in and that I am all to often ungrateful for. As we speak my sweet 3 year old daughter is pushing my chair and telling me to get off. I love my life, even on the days when I really wish I could go back to bed. Bless you and your family!

  5. Mary J. Blige in my head the rest of the day.
    Does this surprise you about me?
    Or make you giggle?
    You're welcome.

  6. Love this! Real love takes time and guts and energy with a bit of pretty sprinkles on top. :)

  7. Me too.
    Fumbling through with you.

  8. Nodded my way through reading this - and I don't even LIKE Valentine's Day - but this year I WANT to like it. So I'm going to locate a heart-cookie cutter and make the sugar cookie recipe I found at Christmas with my five year old who loves to help in the kitchen. (We haven't figured out his love language yet - but this is one of them.)
    And oh, how I need Jesus to help me love better.

  9. Love this so much. And now I really wish I had time to send you a Valentine in the mail.

  10. mmmkay you almost made this Valentine's-scoffer want to cut out some paper hearts. who knows... maybe I will ;)

  11. Love, love, love makes people happy Love, love, love makes people free Love makes people do the things they know they ought to do
    Love is doing things for you and me... I LOVE holidays. I posted to my FB page that the gifts bags are ready. I channeled YOU Shannan Martin, I purchased $3 canvas art @ Walmart of familiar sayings that would remind my niece and nephews of their mother. I made my sisters cookies and packaged them up for the kids. I feel it is important to share LOVE each and everyday. Even on the lowest days. At my house the rule is these phrases are spoken and spoken often...Thank You, I Love You, I appreciate You. Each family is a puzzle that fits together differently but they fit. My family is the puzzle with the one piece missing which is my sister but we still fit together. I wish for everyone a gummy heart over chocolate indulged holiday. Share the day loving on yours and sharing the love with others.

  12. Love this! V-day is always one of my favorites and I feel like it just gives me the extra reminder that loving is something we should do every day of the year.

  13. I'm a sap for Valentine's day too. I live from holiday to holiday to decorate and be child like. The grad school teacher part of me wants to have that kind of fun. Love is tough, so enjoy the glitter with the glue.

  14. I love this perspective--and I think you hit the nail on the head. We sort of need both--the sappy love and the unmoving love, and oh how right you are that the unmoving type of love can only truly be done in Christ, because left to myself I totally fail, every day.