Love

Feb 9 2011

Valentines’ Day is less than a week away.

I feel so very timely and relevant talking about Valentines’ Day when it’s just around the corner.  Especially considering that I haven’t sent out our Christmas cards yet. From 2009.

I bought the cards sometime that fall.  They’re in my hall closet as I type.  (Update: It’s 2013. Still haven’t sent them.) They’re probably crying from loneliness and sneezing from their dust allergy.  Poor cards.  It’s a meaningless existence.

The truth is, I’m not traditionally a celebrator of the big V.

(Let’s pretend that calling it “the big V” wasn’t awkward.  If you promise to pretend, then I promise never to do it again.  I think that’s fair.)

Even though we don’t do a whole lot for Valentines’ Day, I’m not against love.  I swear it.

It’s just that 5 kids don’t leave us a ton of time to make elaborate plans to romance each other.  Greg and I are generally happy if we can greet each other cordially in the hall.

So, despite the fact that I think a weekly date night is a fantastic idea, and a Valentines’ Day date is even better, some days the best we do at romance goes something like this:

Me:  So, want to…?

Him:  Sure.

And then we do.  Or we fall asleep.  You just never know.  It’s part of the excitement of marriage combined with parenting.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about love this week. And about Paul, who wrote about love.

If I speak with the tongues of men or of angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

And I’ve been thinking about what this kind of love means for me.

It doesn’t matter how eloquently I write,

for example,

without love, I’m discordant and abrasive.

If I can do miraculous things like make my kids sleep through the night, and if I have God’s own power (which is what it would take to make that sleep thing possible), but I don’t have love, it’s worthless.

If I give everything I own to the poor, and if I adopt children, and if I open my home to people in need, and if I serve on committees and in parent groups and bake for charitable events — even if I willingly get run over by a train the way I keep saying I would for any of my kids — if I do it without love, I’m still nothing.

The thing about love is that it’s tenacious.  It’s generous.  It grabs hold of you with tight (sometimes tiny) fists, and it won’t let go.

Love is happy for the good that befalls others and doesn’t sit around cataloging all the ways life’s not fair.

Love doesn’t brag.  And it isn’t full of itself, either.

Love isn’t pushy, rude or demanding.  Not even when it’s in the right and has asked its children to do their chores 23 times and they’re still not doing them and it wants to beat its head against a wall.

Love doesn’t get crazy mad, and it never keeps score.

Love champions the truth.

Love trusts.  I bet it trusts even before the trust has been fully and completely earned.

Love looks for the best.  Sometimes under a pile of crap.  And love keeps going to the end.

Love can’t die.  No matter how many times I try to beat it into submission.

But…

Does anyone else feel like there is an ENORMOUS disparity between that kind of love and the kind of love you are actually, really able to live out to your family every day?

It’s just that I can’t even see that bar, much less reach for it.  Words that are supposed to inspire and encourage make me want to hunker down and break out the bon bons.

Disparity.  Despair-ity.  You say potato, I say potahto.

But thank God for people who are wiser than me because this week one of those Wise People reminded me that I have one job with Love, and here it is.

My job is to seek every day to minimize the disparity.

What?

My job is to seek every day to minimize the disparity.

You mean… I don’t have to be perfect right this instant? I don’t have to get love exactly right right now?

You’re kidding.

I’m a mom.  And a wife.  We’re supposed to get it all right, right now.  Yes?

No?

Huh.  There’s a whole new hole blown in my All or Nothing ship. Someday, that thing’s gonna take on water.

So here’s how I figure it.  If it’s my job to minimize the disparity between what real Love is and my own ability to love, then my responsibility is to show up for the fight.

My job is to do something.  My job is to act out Love when I can, how I can, with whomever I can.

My job is to close the gap a little more, and a little more, and a little more.

Disparity, here I come.  Start running.

……….