Life is short.
As unromantic as it may sound that is probably the single, greatest piece of marriage and family advice I’ve read and the one that runs through my head most often in the midst of life’s trials.
When Tom & I hurt each other in the same way for the hundredth (thousandth) time.
When my daughter pours my water bottle on her pants for the third time in a day.
When the laundry, dishes and cleaning all need to be done. Again.
When the bills are paid but there’s nothing left for any of the other financial goals we set.
When “date night” is, once again, in the living room instead of out anywhere.
When pregnancy pains have me up at night before another long day.
When the writing deadlines cycle back around.
When Tom needs a week of evenings to finish major projects and I am alone.
When family is all far away.
When Evie is awake at 3:00 a.m. for no apparent reason.
When cold & flu season just won’t end.
When sunshine and warm weather seem like a thing of fairy tales.
When Evie is eating veggie straws off the floor because she dropped her snack cup for the sixth time.
When life is mundane, lonely and predictable.
When your time with the Lord is punctuated with baby drool and sticky hands wanting to help turn the pages of the “bahble”.
In the midst of Valentine’s Day promotions and celebrations it’s easy to forget that love is not proved by roses, jewelry, spa gift cards, dinners out, cards, chocolate, new clothes, vacations, surprises and time away together. Love is not cemented in the moment of breathless yes that follows a proposal. It’s not sealed by the tears that stain hand-written marriage vows or finalized in the intimacy of a long-awaited honeymoon. Those are beautiful beginnings, sacred starts to a life together but they are not the proof of love.
Like love’s Author demonstrated, love is cemented by the very moments that you think it should be most absent. Arms spread wide on a wooden cross. In the splitting of yourself to serve another. In the gifting of grace at the cost of your own desires. In the laying down of your very life to make another’s life richer, more whole. More sweet.
That’s where love’s true mettle is allowed to shine. To be refined into something stronger than it was before it was broken. That’s where love is proven as the greatest of these. In every one of the moments that won’t make it on a Hallmark card.
When you’ve locked the door and your husband picks it, determined to hear the painful words you need to say. When you have been cut open in the most unexpected delivery so your daughter can enter the world and, despite the pain, nausea and blood he whispers that “you’re beautiful”. When you fall asleep in the middle of something important he’s trying to share with you because it’s late and you’re exhausted. When what he needs isn’t a romantic gesture on your part but just the chance to take a nap on the weekend. When love is stopping to fill the empty gas tank despite your own mental and physical tank being on empty. When your sacrifice isn’t noticed or thanked. When your surprise falls flat. When your hard work is taken for granted.
Those are the moments that make up the days that make up a life defined by love. A life that will be over all too fast.
Love doesn’t take a superhero’s strength. Just a willing heart. It doesn’t require trendy clothes, a model body or a full bank account. Just the commitment to empty yourself and be filled with the passions and goals of the Greatest Lover.
When the overwhelming days come; when my heart needs a reality check to be restored to its mission of love, I remember how fleeting the days are. How much I’ve been given in this life and how precious each day I get to hold my loved ones is. I remember how fragile life is, that while we are promised eternity we are not guaranteed tomorrow. I remember how sacred the role of shaping little lives is and how the most significant things you can do in life are rarely ones that are either visible or applauded.
Life is short.
When Tom and I hurt each other I have the opportunity to be filled with a demonstrative grace again. To help him move one step closer towards the Lord by receiving grace.
When Evie pours water on her pants I can enjoy the sight of her wet little legs running for the kitchen where I already know she’ll desperately grab the dishtowel off the refrigerator and start drying her pants.
When the laundry, dishes and cleaning all need to be done I can celebrate the roof over my head, food on my table and clothes on my back.
When the bills are paid but there’s nothing left for any of the other financial goals we set I can rejoice that our financial obligations are met.
When “date night” is, once again, in the living room instead of out somewhere I can delight in the fact that I have a husband committed to his wife and his family.
When pregnancy pains have me up at night before another long day I can pray for the little boy growing in my womb and rejoice in the moments I have left carrying him.
When the writing deadlines cycle back around I can be grateful for the small amount of extra income the writing assignments bring us.
When Tom needs a week of evenings to finish major projects and I am alone I can spend the time worshiping my Lord and finding new ways to help my family through this season of long days, short nights and limited income.
When family is all far away I can be grateful to live in a day when communication, sharing pictures and updating each other on our lives has never been easier.
When Evie is awake at 3:00 a.m. for no apparent reason I can delight in the weight of her small, healthy body and rejoice in the feel of her little arms clasped tightly to my neck. In that moment I am embodied love to her, all the security she needs.
When cold & flu season just won’t end I can be grateful for the fact that my family has avoided any major illnesses and simply battled a few head colds and an ear infection.
When sunshine and warm weather seem like a thing of fairy tales I can rejoice in a world that is soaking in its off-season. The earth is absorbing the rain and gray skies as spring incubates.
When Evie is eating veggie straws off the floor because she dropped her snack cup for the sixth time I can accept the sweet innocence that makes her unconcerned about germs.
When life is mundane, lonely and predictable I can meditate on three truths: joy is not dependent on exciting circumstances, loneliness is an important part of growth and predictable days are a gift in their own right.
When my time with the Lord is punctuated with baby drool and sticky hands wanting to help turn the pages of the “bahble” I can delight in the fact that “Bible” was one of the first twenty words that Evie learned.
Life is short, even when the days and moments are long. The gifts are abundant, even when the wrapping is unexpected. The opportunities for joy are frequent, even when all the circumstances aren’t ideal.
The choice to accept the gift of today is always ours. Always mine.