How Real People Make (Real) Love

So yeah—- yeah, our mattress sags in the middle.

You can see it, even when the sheets are pulled up taut, how the springs at the centre have been flattened by the sheer weight of glory.

This is a man and a woman becoming one. 

Some would say this has been boring, this every day love of us.

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Joy Prouty

It’s been decades of this, happening after the days, us there in the dark:

We roll to the middle of the mattress, you and I, finding each other in the valleys.

Who knew that every valley is being held in the valley of cupped hands?

There have been too many of those valleys to count.

The nights after funerals, after burying people we loved in the earth. We clung quiet to each other in the middle, the springs sagging silently under us, the words scraped raw from the sides of us.

The dark he cupped me through after my heart had been sledge-hammered and I couldn’t seem to pull all the shards out.

He said the scars became me — that they had made me become.

I forgot to shave my legs. He said it never mattered. My waist thickened and rolled and softened, stretch-marked thin over this love of ours that grew me larger with all these kids.

My sagging, rounded mother body wears it like a badge: I’ve surrendered to love in a thousand ways.

And he’d pull all of  me close. Whisper it there warm at the nape of my neck, tell me that I’m your trophy bride: we’ve won real love and wear the battled age to prove it.

And yeah, sure, we’ve felt it too, in the hollow of some awful nights, laying there in the middle of the mattress, in our own valley of dry bones:

We married wrong.

Don’t buy what anybody else is selling:  Everyone always marry wrong.

Because what’s wrong in the world is always us.

Marriage and love and time, these are the enormous forces that inevitably chisel and change us into strangers. The springs sag. Mattresses sigh. Marriage changes us into strangers who have to meet and introduce each other to love all over again.

None of us ever know whom we marry. 

And falling in love never made anyone angels… it’s only made it clear how far we’ve fallen.

Who we say ‘I do’ to —  is not who we roll over to touch twenty years later.

The challenge for the vows is to fall in love with the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

The vows are a vow to make the new stranger you’ve been long married to —  know the intimacy of old love everyday.

This is the only way we become married to the right people.

And he has been smacked by my flaws, slack-jawed by my flaws, and it ain’t been Hallmark pretty. It’s been holy. You’d think after a lifetime of Sunday sermons I would have known that this is what real love always does— goes to hell and back for each other.

The real romantics know that stretchmarks are beauty marks, and that different shaped women fit into the different shapes of men souls, and that real romance is really sacrifice.

So Hallmark and Hollywood can position their glossy anyway they’d like, but the guy buying chocolates for the lady who lost it with him last week (that would be him and I), well, we can see right through it:

Love without Truth isn’t reality— it’s sentimentality.

And Truth without Love isn’t sustainable —- it’s terminal.

Real Love truthfully sees the flaws — and still really loves fully.

Love isn’t blind — Love is the only way of really seeing.  There are men who have loved women real.

Men who have been brave and let themselves love. Which means they’ve let theirs hearts be busted and banged up and this has kept them tenderized and soft.

What else would have kept us alive and real and from growing hard?

No one tells us that at the beginning:

The moment you let love into your heart, your heart starts breaking. The only way to stop your heart from breaking is to stop your heart from loving. You always get to choose: either a hard heart or a broken heart.

A broken heart is really an abundant heart — all those many beautiful pieces only evidence of an abundant life.

We could promise each other — to carry the abundant, shattered hearts carefully — full of care.

This is Gospel, this is what Christ did: Make yourself vulnerable, and you make yourself irresistible. This is what Love does. 

The reward of loving is in the loving; loving is itself the great outcome of loving. 

The success of loving is in how we change because we kept on lovingregardless of any thing else changing. 

The value of loving is in the value of being like Christ.

So after he’s been up before 5 am, fed a couple hundred mama sows, taken care of more than a couple of hundred baby pigs, loaded a truck of wheat, blown out the farmyard of snow, picked up groceries when he’s got tractor parts in town, worked in the barn tonight till after 7:30, after he’s read from 2 Timothy to us around the dinner table —

I slip back into the kitchen after fitting clean sheets on a bed, to find him standing there at the sink.

Standing there doing up the last of the pots and pans.

I could weep for a quiet love like this, the kind of love they don’t write movies about, but the Maker writes down in a book of His own.

Joy Prouty

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Ours is not the kind of flashy love that makes any red carpet, but it’s the kind of unforgettable love that runs red.

It doesn’t matter one iota what the checkout glossies tout: Sacrifice is the most attractive of all.

And boring love is what touches the deepest– our lives boring down deep into each other’s hearts.

And there are women who have loved men as the hero-of-few-words who have rescued them day in and day out, without any fanfare or flash.

There are men and women who have lived and bore the weight of it: “I am far worse than I ever dreamed. And yet you have loved me beyond what I could ever dream. You have lived Gospel to me.”

It’s happening without any headlines: our hearts are quietly boring into each other, us just letting our fingers find each other, our eyes linger. Boring love is what drills wells that taste like wine.

So yeah, yeah — so what if the mattress sags and gives way in the centre? The self-centredness of the two giving way to this rolling down into the middle and into a glorious one.

You and I entangled in these romanced cotton sheets of an old and practiced grace.

 

Want to Fall in Love All Over Again?

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Project: REIGNITE

Marriage is for the wounded brave who keep battling toward each other —

instead of battling with each other

Let’s take these small, doable steps and do this together:

Your marriage is worth it.

Each day, for the next 5 days, I’ll email you a doable, practical tool that will not only give you a fresh vision for your marriage, but move your heart toward your partnerand falling in love all over again.  

Because life’s too short to miss out on being in a relationship where you are consciously being fully seen, truly known, deeply safe.   

PROJECT: REIGNITE. COME FALL IN LOVE AGAIN.