Love does not always look like roses, chocolates, and candlelight. It is deeper than that. In fact, until the storms of life come along, I would say that love isn’t tested. New love is more infatuation than sacrifice. Do not get me wrong, there is a glorious awakening of the heart when new love blooms. It is why we celebrate Valentine’s Day, why we write songs, poems, and stories about it. It is the feeling which movies portray as “the real thing.” All of us who are romantics, rush to watch lighthearted love play out on the screen. We go to weddings and smile as big as the groom does when the bride walks down the aisle. We see young lovers who glow while gazing into one another’s eyes, and we remember our own whirlwinds of the heart. It warms and fills us with good feelings. Yet, this type of affection is a beginning…a glorious one…a fun one…but still only a beginning.
Anyone who has been married for any length of time can tell you that the romance fades if you don’t stoke the fire. Even with intentional effort it is sometimes difficult, simply because life gets busy. Careers, kids, and all kinds of activities fill up the spaces that used to be reserved for only the two of you. Still, love grows. The pace slows down, but the roots begin to spread out and encompass more ground. This expansion enlarges the heart. If caution is observed not to spread too thin, the busy seasons create a love that appreciates the little things. Things like quiet. And sleep. And Saturday morning pancakes.
Then hardships come along. If love is to survive, the roots have to go deep. This is where you learn that true love = sacrifice. Hardship in a marriage is the crucible of fire that burns away the dross and purifies the love. It is not easy, nor is it pretty. It doesn’t usually come with warm fuzzy feelings, but it is real just the same. Not every love survives the fire, because it takes two people willing to surrender. It is beyond personalities and common interests. It is spirit to spirit contact where hanging on to one another is the only way to make it through. This results in a bond that is too deep for words to explain. This kind of love hurts. It is an ongoing choice, which is worth all the effort and heartache. It may not sound too desirable, and you won’t find to many people lining up to be included in the hardship line, but the result is a love story of epic proportions…the kind of love that endures. It is not blown around by the winds. It does not crumble with changes. It is steadfast. It is true. It is more romantic than a card or a fancy dinner. It is a deep love, with roots that hold it steady in the storms. It is a gift, for which I am grateful every day.