“Well, do you love her?” Quiet. Blank stare. Long.
His look part anger, part remembering, part brokenness. I had no wise words to offer greater than the realization settling back into his world. Something blocked it all, what he once loved so much in his own way, her. Little things had been building. Arguments kept, offenses recorded in their minds, every identified wrong used as weapons to cut. They were both injured and now insecure, quick to cut and easily run. What brought them back each time? Love and all that had been invested. Life together. Imperfect indeed and sometimes twisted, but not easily dying either. And there he sat in love.
This could be anyone’s story. It is one, but also the story of many.
Relationships crumble when scores are kept left to be settled one day, lurking in every wrong and hurt and offense. What once was so beautiful and full and giving, now a pit sinking and a hole keeping. Two people convinced things have irreparably changed live in a dead love.
Deepening relationships meaningful and lasting are complicated always. Two individuals whose lives are colliding and merging in hopes of achieving the greatest sense of belonging and being hinges on giving. Giving stands in direct contrast to getting. One cannot get love no matter how persistent the attempt and/or pursuit. You can’t make someone love you lastingly. They choose. You choose. That’s how love works. Just because you buy her flowers today does not mean she’ll love you tomorrow, or even later that evening. She will undoubtedly enjoy the flowers, attention, effort and maybe even creative detail, but that’s like, not love. Too many of us buy flowers but do not give love. There’s a bit of truth and good perception to the argument that Valentine’s day is merely a consumer driven industry, a golden opportunity for businesses to capitalize on people trying to buy love, but only the smallest bit of truth and good perception. The ones holding tight fisted and defiantly to this argument defending their lack of romantic effort on this day to a somehow believed track record of loving their wives in the everyday typically seems to boil down to tightening a screw here and there, taking out the trash most nights, keeping a good roof overhead and so on.
Love is about more than doing. It is giving in every chance and never noticing who gave last. Love is blind in this regard. It has to be. The moment you start keeping notice and record of who gave last, your hand empties held out waiting to receive. Love withers. Wilting in the waiting.
Some of the best advice I ever did receive in regard to relationships succeeding, Be quick to forgive, and forget. Hurts are sticky and offenses are clingy. Allow them room in your heart and love will be strangled to a death. Forgiveness is what makes love live.
Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always "me first," doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, The Message)