So, I’ve survived three weddings in 8 days!
Of course, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time thinking about love & how you express what it really means. I thought I’d share and expand on some of what I talked about to Heidi & Ross when I got to officiate at their wedding last week…
What does love look like?
On a wedding day, we all have a clear & powerful idea, exactly what it looks like! Love is a beautiful white dress, and a guy who may not look entirely comfortable in the tux he’s wearing. Love is a slow walk, it’s a long gaze, it’s a bomb-proof smile, and after the words “I will” are uttered in turn, love is a simple kiss, very public, yet at the same time, a truly intimate experience!
But what does love look like only a week later? That wedding day is over, the honeymoon’s in swing & it all has a different flavour. Love is hot sand, a cold drink, a good book and an empty diary! Love is sleeping late, eating big and laughing lots.
But honeymoons don’t last forever, what does love look like three years later? Love changes as we grow older! In three years love could be an cup of tea while she is breastfeeding, it might be a vacuumed house for a tired spouse, or love could simply be a hand that wanders into the grasp of hers as you both try and unwind infront of an episode of “Escape to the Country” or some other equally banal yet comforting programme.
Fifteen years on, love changes again. It’s the phone call, 11pm Friday night asking that you pick them up because they’re now fighting with last week’s BFF. It’s 4 hours the next day travelling to, watching then returning from a sport whose only redeeming feature is that your progeny play it. It’s a thousand small sacrifices made and maybe never acknowledged.
Who really knows on their wedding day what route their love will take?
We know it changes, so it’s only natural that we go looking for paradigms of love, but which ones really deliver?
Well the media sells us a paradigm of love that, like a store bought apple, can appear glossy on the surface, but is often sour and bitter inside. Media driven love says “I am always fire, passion & fulfillment. My cup always runs over, my eyes never cease to glitter and my kiss is always sweet.” But of course, such love always expects what it says it gives. When the fire dims, the cup’s level drops & the glitter fades, this love flees & looks to begin again.
If this is the love we long for as our paradigm at the start of marriage, we’ll soon come to a trial or tribulation & words like “for worse, for poorer, in sickness” will prove hollow, because this love needs better, richer and health to flourish!
What does the Apostle Paul say about love? In our first reading, he said this:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Look at the words & see the paradigm shift from the saccharine sweet siren call of the world. Patience, lack of envy, not self-seeking, not easily angered, no record of wrongs? This is a very different picture of love! It’s a love that looks beyond MY interests & toward THY interests. It’s a love that says “as I pledge my troth to you this day, I commit to looking beyond myself to how I might honour you, because your joy is my joy.”
This is the love that that yearns for fulfillment, but understands that focussing on your own needs as the start and finish of things will always starve the other of their needs. It’s a love that recognises and values the fires of passion, but looks beyond to a deeper, thermal heat that is steady despite the changing seasons.
But how do we learn to love in such a way? Where is our paradigm that shows us how this works? Well we see this kind of love expressed in the the love the God of all the Universe has for us, in all our frailty and confusion. A word from 1 John 4:10:
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
At our least loveable, God acted in the most loving way to us. Giving up that which he treasured most, to pay the cost for our willful acts of defiance against him. God’s love for his people is so powerful because it’s not contingent on us looking as pretty as the day he met us, or on our being a great person to live with, an awesome mother or father, or any of these things. God’s love for us is an act which he makes freely with no strings attached, asking only that we put our trust in Christ’s work on the cross for us, and put our trust in him.
I hope many things for all three couples that I have seen married over the last 8 days. I hope that every day they find their spouses more beautiful than the day before, that each week they find a new thing to marvel at, and that the years will whiz by in sea of laughter and joy. But more than all of this, I pray that their relationship will be marked by a sincere commitment to build the other up, to find the deepest joy in the happiness of their spouses, allowing them to look beyond mistakes that might be made, looks that will fade, and times that will be tough.
And I hope they will find the strength to do this by finding the deepest and greatest love in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the one who saves us from our sins, and shows us how to truly love each other.
I thought I’d finish with a question. Always a good way to find out if anyone a)reads my blog & b)if they ever read anything to the end.
What is that little thing, that others might see as inconsequential but you see as the answer to “love is” when thinking of your significant other?