Dad and I try so hard to teach you lessons we think are important about life. I’m told though, that often kids catch more from watching than they ever get from being taught. So, today as dad and I celebrate 18 years of marriage, I have been thinking about what I hope you’ve caught from us about relationships. When I break it down to something simple, I can’t help but think to myself, it’s just love dummy.
Here is the trick about love, it’s simple but often it ain’t easy. We throw around the word so much, I’m afraid we’ve all lost its true meaning. Perhaps the power of love has been too watered down.
There is a bible verse read at so many weddings that some people (your mom) cringe as soon as they hear “love is patient” come out of a reader’s mouth because we just want a little creativity. But here is the thing, there is a reason for the overuse of that bible verse; it’s true.
Love, real love, like your dad and I were so damn lucky to find, is the foundation of not just a working, lasting marriage but of a peaceful life. Despite that fact, love is often downplayed. We water down love to some silly emotion that is only for songs and cheesy rom-coms. I’m guilty of it myself. I say I love you, often, but I’m not sure I take the time to weigh what that really means.
You have to know that love is complex and active. It must be active for it to truly work. Love means choosing patience, especially with a person’s heart, even if that person is yourself. Love means choosing kindness, especially when you’re feeling most resentful or unkind.
Love means choosing not to keep score. Love means knowing when to back off and let someone else lead and, perhaps even more, when to step forward and stake your claim. Love means choosing trust when doubt creeps in.
Somedays, love means looking very hard, through all the mud of everyday life, for that sparkle that caught your heart all those years ago, and holding on for dear life when you find it. Because, that sparkle will be dulled over the years by chaos, minutiae or even hurt. Sometimes the sparkle is collateral damage of life, and love means remembering that no one would ever purposefully take away the shine.
For dad and I, love means risk, and faith. It means laughter and comfort and real, deep, joy. For us, love, the kind that found its match when our souls first met, is what brings us back to each other and reminds us of all that is good, especially when so much may look scary, or sad or even really bad. Love reminds us of the often quieter but always solid good.
I hope you see this. I hope you feel it. Mostly, I hope you find it for yourselves.
I know in this family we all twist and turn around our Catholicism and you ask me often why I stay and why I make you stay with me. You know my affinity for Franciscans and all that they teach. But another group that keeps me in the church and makes me want it for you is the Jesuits. Their teachings helped build your dad. They often help me see through the Catholic BS to the actual teachings of Jesus and what really matters. Their words often remind me of all that can be right the world. Here are some, paraphrased from Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ. These are some of my favorites.
Especially today .
Nothing is more practical than falling in love in a quite absolute and final way. What you fall in love with will decide everything, what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love. Stay in love. And it will decide everything.
Love is love is love. And love, in all its forms, really is all you’ll ever need.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.