The conversation in the car on Monday afternoon revolved around the celebration of our 24th wedding anniversary. One of the children made the tentative observation: your love for Mum hasn’t changed over that time… They were a little surprised at my response: “Of course it has! In fact, I’d be worried if it hadn’t.” And so a conversation about the nature of love ensued.
At the heart of the discussion was the recognition that when I first loved Ev, we knew each other as individuals, and were delighted to talk, discuss, and discover things together. There was an exciting chemistry, but also a deep bond of friendship and respect, which has endured through the years. But when we first married, I had not seen Ev in operation as a mother, as a housemaker, or as a family member. Since our wedding day we have endured a wide range of experiences, including some of the deepest struggles and traumas at one end, and the most holy moments of intimacy which are embedded at the core of our being. All of these have moulded and shaped the character of our love, giving it greater depth and breadth.
When we first met, even when we first married, certain aspects of our lives were unknown to each other. There was often a tentativeness about allowing our full selves to be revealed, coloured by a sense of wonder at what the response would be. Our early love was based on promise, hopes and dreams, but has expanded to include realities we could not have imagined or prepared ourselves for.
Love involves our feelings, but is not limited by them. Love touches every part of our being, and is deeply rooted in who we are. But love is ultimately a commitment to another: an expressed and lived desire to honour and serve another for their benefit. Love can have its head in the clouds, but great love has its feet on the ground: touching the realities of who we are.
Jesus described love in a variety of ways, but one sticks out for me above all others: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). This saying expresses love in terms of what we do for others, not primarily for how others make us feel. And it is evidenced in the greatest act of love known in history: the giving of his life for us on the cross, an act mirrored and echoed by many through the years.
I have known those who feel that they are “losing their love” because they can no longer whip themselves up as they once did in their love for God. Yet to recognise the growing and changing nature of love is to understand that love which has greater breadth and depth doesn’t necessarily require the ecstatic moments to sustain it, while at the same time recognising that such moments become more profound for their depth and breadth.
May your love for God so grow with the passing of years that is place in your inner being becomes more integral to who you are.
May 6, 2007