I think I loved the idea of him.
There’s no way I could have known that I had fallen in love with an idea at 16 — shoot, I don’t think I could have known that at 32.
But I loved how his hair fell over his eyes when he ran down the back hall, late for Mr. Schurter’s grade 9 math class. (Yeah, he had so much more glorious hair back then and, yeah, I had gloriously less hips).
And I loved how he stuffed his farm hands in the back pockets of his jeans when he stopped at my locker after home room, grinned this boyish gleam and got up enough nerve to say “Hi” for the first time.
I can still feel that heat flushing up my cheeks.
I loved how one glance from he could make the inside of me perfectly weak and that surrender seemed right, all the walls giving way.
I had thought all that was love.
But who tells you that the love they sing about in pop songs is this fragile bubble of an idea that kinda pops when you try to carry it home?
It does for all of us.
I had thought I’d fallen in love with him —- with some young buck, with some farm boy — but, yeah, I couldn’t have known that I had only fallen in love with some idea.
With a vision of him and this mirage of a future with him and, if we’re being really honest here — and who has time for anything else — I think I had fallen in love too with how he made me feel.
Maybe at first we only stumble into love with the idea of someone — because the real falling in love with a person takes years — the long, slow fall off the edge of controlling things and into eternity.
And at first, I had only fallen in love with the face of things, the feeling of things — the way the whole world felt when mine found his.
It’s okay. This is always the tender, unlikely beginning.
Falling in love with the idea of a person is ideally the beginning to living out love with that person for always.
So I guess that’s what happened: Somewhere along the line, we turned off the radio and learned the real lyrics and lines to a love that lasts.
Maybe that’s the first thing we learned — How to Handle Anger
When I was the insane fool who yelled like a maniac, he learned to withstand the storm of me and not slam a door and shut me out.
I learned (ridiculously slowly) just that about the storms and seasons of a marriage: When you feel a storm rising on the inside, the best way to ride it out is:
1. Never do Harm and
2. Only be Helpful — and
3. all this is ridiculously harder than you think.
And at some point a light went on for me in the rocky places of our marriage:
Anger is in the business of making targets and bull’s eyes. If you don’t want to feel the pain of arrows, stop letting your anger make your back into a target.
Force your anger out of the business of making you into a target and into the business of being your alarm system.
It’s like when a light goes off on the dashboard—
when your anger alarm system goes off:
1. simply keep calm,
2. simply keep your seat,
3. simply keep to the right and pull off and take a look at what’s really going on the inside.
Anger is often just a costume for Fear.
Take the time to figure out what’s going on under the the hood of things.
How to Communicate Your Feelings To Bring You Closer
So, after we figured out what was going under the surface of things: We learned this key to communication, that we learned in counselling, that we’ve taught our kids:
Only one person has The Floor at a time — and they get to share their feelings — focus on what’s happening under the hood, in your heart — in a non-accusatory way:
I feel X when Y happens. When you do X, I feel Y.
And then after person with The Floor has finished sharing — the Listener gives feedback only on what they’ve heard:
So I’m hearing that when Y happens, you feel X. I hear you saying that when I do X, you feel Y.
When the person with The Floor feels truly heard by the Listener —- then they hand The Floor over to the Listener —- who now has the opportunity to take the floor and share their feelings — focusing on how they feel, without accusation — and the partner now becomes the Listener, offering feedback. focusing on how they feel, without accusation — and the partner now becomes the Listener, offering feedback.
Oftentimes? It’s not about understanding how to solve the problem —- as much as it’s first about making sure the person feels understood.
When people feel truly seen —- problems see their own solutions.
He never wanted to leave the farm. But he loaned me courage and helped me learn how to go and come back. He changed, and so have I, and we keep finding each other in the middle of the sagging mattress and when you touch the thigh of me, I feel found.
That’s the unspoken miracle of marriage: You vow to keep loving someone who keeps growing into a mysterious stranger.
And I guess that’s what happily happens every morning when I turn around and there he is: He is always my tall, dark and handsome stranger. We are two strangers who keep meeting each other and discovering mysteries about each other, and freeing each other — who keep staying close to each other in all His widening expanses of freedom.
It’s strange how that always is: Freedom always comes from secure bonds of love.
I wash away the stubble he left in the sink. He unplugs the toilet. I let him sit quiet. He lets me keep reading.
And the morning after we fought like two colliding cold fronts about who was the one who really had messed up and didn’t pick up the kids from piano lessons, when I was standing there in the first light at the stove, making up his bacon, I can only say I’m achingly sorry that I hadn’t known that about, say, oh, 20 years sooner:
The only way to rise to the challenges of love is to keep rising and serving.
The bacon kept sputtering and splattering in the sunlight and I’d stood over the frying pan wishing I had woke up to that a whole lot sooner:
That there are only 3 ways to rise to serve the Challenges of Love:
1. you can serve with grace
3. you can serve with a grudge
3. you can serve yourself grief
Because the thing is? You will serve. That’s not an option.
Somehow, that young kid who didn’t really grow up but got married anyway, she thought, way underneath of everything in the places we’re hardly even conscious of but of which our actions loudly speak — Somehow there’s this lie that there’s a way out of serving.
But the truth is you get to either serve others with grace, or serve others with a grudge — or you can simply serve yourself, and that means you will serve yourself grief.
The question is never will you serve. The answer is you will serve — but who will you serve and how?
It’s only taken an excruciating and exquisite 20 years, and I’m the most painfully slowest of studies, but there it is — When you’re looking for the root of problems, look at the root of everything:
Who is willing to serve? Who is willing to suffer for the other?
Love’s griefs and greatness is rooted in the depth of service.
Truth is, you can only fall in love when you are walking out sacrificial love.
When he held my hair up on Sunday to zip up the last bit of my dress, he lingered for a bit, your hand on my neck. I could feel the resonance of us right then.
How together we were writing our own messy and beautiful and real love song. Dance to your own love song.
How the radio’s ditty love songs have found a deeper reverberation in the tenor of our doing love, serving love, giving love, paying the price of love.
Real love has no need of adjectives to describe it — because love is a verb that does.
Yeah, let all the lovesick beats be cranked up right loud and let them play their songs and play at love —
And let a whole bunch of us grow old in this romance of reigniting again and again that has our souls mingling late into our sacrificing twilight.
The idea of the person we fall in love with, can become our ideal person, the one who is our person.
You know when he comes in the back door, and you hear the sound of him coming across the the old worn floors?
The rhythm of your heart can still perfectly give way to the one you keep giving your heart to.
Books for Soul Healing:
Joy is actually possible, right where you are.
What if Brokenness is the Path into the Abundant Life?
You don’t have to be afraid of broken things — because Christ is redeeming everything.
There’s no other authentic way forward — but a broken way — right into a profoundly abundant life.
Journey into a deeply meaningful life with this devotional and take sixty steps from heart-weary brokenness to Christ-focused abundance. The Way of Abundance — is the way forward every heart needs.