Thursday, February 14, 2013

To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God



In my old life this day meant a lot of different things for me.  It meant for weeks ahead of time thinking about buying shirts or outfits for the kids to wear, thinking and planning and making special treats for my kids.  Making sure they had a new special toy or chocolate in the morning or evening.  Planning or doing something for my husband, fully expecting to be disappointed, ignored and relegated as a non-important entity or having him do something ‘over the top’ for which I would emotionally or physically pay for later.  

It never meant joy for me though.  It never meant feeling celebrated.  It never had anything to do with romantic love. 

I was able to express love and thoughtfulness for my children.  But being in an emotionally abusive relationship robbed me of expressing or receiving love myself on this day.  There were tears, stony silences or loud fights.  There was the time that he took the candy I had ordered for him out of the mailbox several days before Valentine’s Day and pretended to wrap it up and give it to me.  That was a particularly bad one.  I remember shuffling the kids out the door to my moms and disappearing for hours that day.  Turning off my phone and browsing Borders hoping to find words to soothe my soul.  Words to channel my pain; soothe it and give it a voice.  A safe space to lose myself and lick my wounds.

He told me he thought I had ordered the candy and had it shipped so that he would see it take it and give it to me.  He said he thought I would do that for him to make his life easier.  I knew how hard his life was and ordering chocolate for me was just more than he could do.  I walked out the door in shocked silence.  I said nothing.  What could I say?  Where would I find the words to respond to that kind of narcissism?  There were none. 

So mostly my Valentine’s Days while married were silent and teary and lonely. 

Now, it’s a little different.  I didn’t manage to be able to get my kids much of anything for this day.  I haven’t baked special treats or bought them new shirts to wear.  But I did remember to finish their Valentine’s for their classmates.  That was a hard won victory.  Kindergarteners do not want to write their name 27 times in a row!

I’m going to try to rustle something together for everyone before the boys get home.  But mostly this day is low-key.  I’m not expecting to receive anything from anyone.  I’m kind of glad that is the state I’m in.  The state of no expectations.  I’m feeling free to take the day as it comes.  I’m not worried that I’m in the middle of a detox with my supplements, because it doesn’t matter.  No one is buying me chocolate today so no one will be offended if I don’t eat it.  There aren’t any special meals scheduled for the evening so I can continue with my clean eating.  Perhaps that’s a little sad. 

But not nearly as sad as being lonely, married and ignored.  I get to make this day what I want it to be.  And if I want it to be nothing special other than another Thursday then so be it.  That is my choice.  I am the master of my destiny.  I can choose to embrace the sunshine and the quietness of my afternoon as Nina sleeps.  I can choose to embrace that I heard God yet again today.  I obeyed him and he rewarded my obedience by making it clear to me that I had listened. 

There are still things to be celebrated.  Not a ring on my finger or romantic love, but joy, peace, freedom and clarity of thought.  It’s a gift to not live in a world of constant confusion any longer.  It’s a gift to be free rather than ignored.  It’s a gift to let myself off the “I’m the most thoughtful mom on Valentine’s day for my kids” rat race.  I am thankful and at peace and home alone with my babies today.  But I know what love is. 

Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! It is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
William Shakespeare
Excerpt from Sonnet 116

This is the kind of love that God has for us.  The kind of love that we should have for one another and the type I strive to have for my children.  A love without conditions, that faces the storms of life head on, it does not shrink back or disappear.  It is love.  And God is love.  Therefore when you have this, whether you are giving or receiving, you are giving or receiving God.  We say that we are loving one another.  We are really Godding one another.  To love apart from God is impossible.  Whether you acknowledge his existence or not is irrelevant.  You can only love because he created you to be able to do so.  He created you to have someone to love. 

He created love and he is love.  That’s why it cannot be altered, removed.  That is why it is a fixed mark, and cannot be shaken.  It is worth it unknown, because who could measure the worth of the creator of our universe.  To do so is impossible.  Our minds cannot comprehend him.  He encompasses far more than we can imagine, our brains would split like Einstein did the atom if we even tried to understand it.  What we need to do with this love, with this day that we talk about it, with this God who made it is LIVE IN IT.  Walk around knowing we are loved.  And that we are love, because God is within us.  We just have to let him reign there.  Even if you don’t hand over those reigns, he will still not stop loving you.  Because you are the ever-fixed mark for him.  You are his beloved and his ultimate desire is to love you and for you to return that love.  And he will bear you out to the edge of your own doom if that’s how far you go from him.  He is always waiting for our glance, our permission to enter, our humility to receive a love that we cannot measure and knows no bounds. 

Please know today that whatever love you feel is missing in your heart.  Whatever ache you have there is a cure for it, a healer, a salve.  It is already there, waiting for you.  It is the heart of God.  He loves you my friend. May you see the face of God today.

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