When You Were Just About To Give Up On Love

R and K

Admittedly, I am not the greatest proponent of love these days. 

I’m nearly always the first to point out the romantic song by the debonaire man, was indeed written by a woman. That’s never been married. 

Never fearing to ask inopportune questions like: Shouldn’t we have more humble wedding ceremonies to get married? …And save the lavish celebrations for when we have fought insurmountable odds to stay married? Arguing that the day we look to our spouse and realize, Holy crap. We’re still married. is the ideal time to throw a party and spend exorbitant amounts of money to have people toast our union – With alcohol nonetheless!

Yep. I am that person.

Jaded and crushed, with a knack for making people uncomfortable with my (many) observations about love, and a heart – and a marriage – that has been shaken to the core. You can find me sitting in the back half of any wedding ceremony, bowing my head in heartfelt prayer for the lovely couple exchanging their vows like I did all those years ago…

A prayer they’d be blessed with the marriage I never had: 

An uneventful one.

But I was terribly wrong…

I realized this the night my family and I gathered in our pajamas, around a 70-year-old man telling a story so touching, he had us hanging on every word that he spoke.

They had asked him about his wife. That’s all I knew, because from that point on he trailed off in a flurry of Spanish I couldn’t comprehend.

Yet regardless of the different languages we spoke, it became obvious by the way his eyes danced and by the way he gripped furiously at his heart, that him and I knew the same kind of love:  Intoxicating. Passionate… Heartbreaking.

Later that night my husband helped me piece the story together, and to my surprise I found it more riveting than I imagined.

… How his first wife had suffered a stroke at a young age while singing in church. I recalled how he bellowed the verses of the hymn that night, stopping at the exact place in the song where her health – and their lives – had changed forever.

…How she spent the next 8 days in a coma, stiff as a table, he said. And how each time he spoke to her – each time he leaned in close to whisper his love for her, in no doubt the same somber tone he spoke in that night – how her heart would respond. Literally. On the EKG! How he illustrated the rise and fall of her heart with his finger in the air, and gripped his heart describing the agony of having to let her go…

…How years after she passed, he got a second chance at love with an unlikely woman nearly half his age and living in Colombia, South America. Remembering how his voice livened and his eyes danced, making us laugh as we watched the 70-year-old man transform into that of a dopey young boy when describing the first kiss they shared. 

….But that this love wouldn’t be free of heartache either…

…How for years they were separated from each other, working tirelessly to get her a visa. Only seeing each other three times in the first three years of their marriage!!! Until finally, the day came where she was given permission to come to the U.S.

But there was a catch: He would have to come get her himself, rightthatsecond! Forcing him to put his humble job cleaning movie theaters on the line, and spend the great sum of money (he didn’t have) to drop everything in a moment’s notice to retrieve the woman he loved. How even still, he accepted the risks – traveling great lengths and sacrificing EVERYTHING in his attempt to get his wife back!

That night it was obvious to each of us, the frail man in the corner of the room had fought tirelessly for love …And, that by the grin on his face, He had won!

They’ve been together ever since… my husband concluded. And my heart jumped forgetting for a moment how jaded ‘we’ are these days.

And I realized,

I too, was set in a tragic story of unbearable loss and tireless sacrifice…But that like him, it was a love story nonetheless!

And what I learned that night captivated by the man I could barely understand was,

The love stories most harrowing, catch our attention and captivate our spirit in a way those void of all conflict ever could!

That just like the man who entranced me with the love story he had lived:

– It was in the heartbreaking final breaths of his first love that he learned what so few ever have – that her heart had always responded to the sound of his voice!

– It was in the unbearable miles and years that separated him from his wife, that she came to know the great lengths her husband would travel and the sacrifices he would make in order to fight for her! 

…That oftentimes, it’s amid the desolation the rarest treasures unearth.

Because maybe, just maybe, there is significance to be discovered in our most heart wrenching pangs, an unlikely strength awakened by our deepest sorrows. Uncharted territory we may never have wandered upon – A story never written had it not been for that wrong turn or the turbulent storm that blew us off course and shook everything we believed to the core.

And that’s when I realized how terribly wrong I had been…

The greatest gift in marriage would NOT be an uneventful one, free of all struggle and tragedy; but a marriage that has lived a love story worth telling!

A marriage that has basked in the grandeur of the uttermost heights, and who’ve crawled relentlessly on their hands and knees to get there. Whose eyes have danced in love’s intoxication, and who have gripped their heart in agony at love’s unbearable loss. A love that displays both the scars they earned in battle, and a smile on their face knowing, they won!

A love story worth telling huddled around in our pajamas until the sun comes up. For generations and generations. No matter the language. 

A love story so harrowing, it catches the attention and captivates the spirit, of even those like me –

…Who were just about to give up on love.

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The Terrible Lie

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I hope you all had a MARVELOUS Thanksgiving!  We did!  We went down to North Carolina to stay with David’s sister and her family.  It was so much fun catching up with them, seeing our kids play together, and cooking Thanksgiving dinner!

I love Thanksgiving because of all the family, the warmth, the cozy.  Even more so, though, I think I like it because it’s a foreshadowing that Christmas is coming next.  Christmas.  Christmas is coming!  Hope is rising.  Anticipation is growing.  Something great is coming!

I love Christmas because it is HOPE here with us.  It is celebrating the greatest most extravagant gift of all time.  Being a mother now, I cannot fathom giving up my only child for anyone– let alone people who would despise her.  No way.  Not happening.  Maya is a slice of heaven to me.  How He did it– I have yet to understand it.

And yet, He did– for us.  For me.  For you.

Even though we have this incredible gift, there is a lie that lives in the deepest parts of our hearts.

Does He love me?

Have you believed the terrible lie?

I believe this horrible lie all the time.  Even being a kid who grew up in the faith, I really struggle with believing I he LOVES me not because of what I’ve done but because of who HE IS.  I believe the lie that “lives in every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children… “God doesn’t love me.”” (The Jesus Storybook Bible, p.30)

Reading this story in the Jesus Storybook Bible with my little babe before nap time, I was again captured at the simplicity and extravagance (how can such extravagance be so simple?!) of God’s love and the sneakiness of the serpent’s lie.  It’s an awful lie.  Christmas reminds me that hope is HERE with us, the mystery of Christ IN us, and the love of God FOR us.

The Terrible Lie

Adam and Eve lived happily together in their beautiful new home.  And everything was perfect– for a while.

Until the day when everything went wrong.

God had a horrible enemy.  His name was Satan. Satan had once been the most beautiful angel, but he didn’t want to be just an angel– he wanted to be God.  He grew proud and evil and full of hate, and God had to send him out of heaven.  Satan was seething with anger and looking for a way to hurt God.  He wanted to stop God’s plan, stop this love story, right there.  So he disguised himself as a snake and waited in the garden.

Now, God had given Adam and Eve only one rule:  “Don’t eat the fruit on that tree,” God told them.  “Because if you do, you’ll think you know everything.  You’ll stop trusting me.  And then death and sadness and tears will come.”

(You see, God knew if they ate the fruit, they would think they didn’t need him.  And they would try to make themselves happy without him.  But God knew there was no such thing as happiness without him, and life without him wouldn’t be life at all.)

As soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to Eve.  “Does God really love you?” the serpent whispered.  “If he does, why won’t he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit?  Poor you, perhaps God doesn’t want you to be happy.”

The snake’s words hissed into her ears and sunk down deep into her heart, like poison.  Does God love me?  Eve wondered.  Suddenly she didn’t know anymore.

“Just trust me,” the serpent whispered.  “You don’t need God.  One small taste, that’s all, and you’ll be happier than you could ever dream.”

Eve picked the fruit and ate some.  And Adam ate some, too.

And a terrible lie came into the world.  It would never leave.  It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children:  “God doesn’t love me.”

~~~~~~

You see, sin had come into God’s perfect world.  And it would never leave.  God’s children would always be running away from him and hiding in the dark.  Their hearts would break now, and never work properly again.  God couldn’t let his children live forever, not in such pain, not without him.

In another story, it would all be over and that would have been…  THE END.

~~~~~~

But not in this story.

God loved his children too much to let the story end there.  Even though he knew he would suffer, God had a plan– a magnificent dream.  One day, he would get his children back.  One day, he would make the world their perfect home again.  And one day, he would wipe away every tear from their eyes.

You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children– with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.

And though they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God’s children would miss him always, and long for him– lost children yearning for their home.

Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve:  “It will not always be so!  I will come to rescue you!  And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake.  I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here.  I’m coming back fro you!”

And he would.  One day, God himself would come.

~The Jesus Storybook Bible, “The Terrible Lie”

At Christmas, we remember that he did come.  To rescue us.  To battle the snake.  To get rid of sin and darkness and to conquer the lie that seems to penetrate our hearts.  He loves us.  He loves us!

HE LOVES US.

Don’t believe the lie.  When you feel it start to creep in, read this story and hold onto the hope of Christmas.  He’s coming for you and for me, because he truly, faithfully, undoubtedly LOVES US.

***If you’re looking for a great children’s bible, the Jesus Storybook Bible is my favorite.  Check it out on Amazon!***

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