“He loves me…he loves me not…he loves me…he loves me not…”
The image of the teenage girl plucking at the fragile petals of a daisy, wishing and hoping that this special boy really does love her, leaves us with the notion that the measure of love is randomly determined by…uh…Mother Nature?
It seems so absolute. He either loves her or he doesn’t. Completely or not at all. And what exactly defines the love she is looking for? If he doesn’t really and truly love her, and she ends up with a daisy that tells her he does…will that change anything? If the daisy tells her he loves her not, will she stop loving him?
Oh so many questions!
After 7 years of marriage, I can look back and remember those times when I would wonder about my husband’s love…doubt it…challenge it….even lose faith in it. Most of the time, it wouldn’t be related to anything he did in particular. I was just afraid that if I let myself love him completely, he wouldn’t reciprocate with the same amount of love that I was giving him.
Ridiculous, I know…especially after I’d already said “I do” and committed to the whole “‘Til death do us part” deal. And if you happened to read Part One of our story, you’ll notice that he was the one taking the huge risk with me not loving him as much in return.
So why couldn’t I trust that the man I married would pour his whole heart and soul into our relationship when he had proven time and again that he would sacrifice himself in so many ways just to win me over?
I was way too BROKEN. So broken that I lived imprisoned in my fear. I knew I was blessed by Gary’s presence in my life, but I projected every hurt I’d ever experienced in the past onto him. I tried to tell him what a mess I was, but for some crazy reason, he still wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and this baggage I couldn’t get rid of.
Within our first few years together, I could see that it was a burden for him during those times when he didn’t know how to help me. But regardless of my insecurities, he would still smile and hold me and tell me he loved me. When I wake up crying from nightmares, he never fails to even apologize for being a jerk to me in my dreams when he – in reality – did nothing wrong. Yes, he does this…until now.
I used to look for reasons for him to walk away. I’d tell him that his life would be so much easier if he picked someone who wasn’t sick…who wasn’t so conservative in her beliefs and her lifestyle…who made more money…etc., etc. He would have gotten more uplifting praise than biting criticism from other people if he ended up choosing another woman who would climb the ladder of success right along with him.
And Gary – being Gary – would only chuckle and say, “But I love you, Babe. And if I married someone else, I don’t know if I’d get to Heaven.”
The last conversation like this happened two years ago, around the time Kali was born. Since then, I made a commitment to give my husband an uncalculated love. Because it was always my default to look for things going wrong in our marriage, I prayed to God to help me see what was going right. Because I easily got hurt and would hold grudges for three days at a time, I told myself that once he said, “I’m sorry,” I needed to respond with a sincere “I forgive you” and really mean it. Because I had the habit of nitpicking at his faults, I needed to compliment him for all the amazing things he was already doing to grow into the man he was made to be.
I had to stop asking myself if he loved me. I had to stop asking him why he chose me. I just had to stop and LOVE HIM without trying to measure the amount of love I thought he was giving me.
After all, if I want him to stick around everyday for as long as we both shall live, I have to show him the respect that his dignity calls for…not because he deserves it, per se…but because he was created by God. A gift. A treasure for me to cherish forever. He has taught me so much about myself and my faith that I really don’t think I would have healed as wholly without his daily presence in my life, constantly reminding me of God’s uncalculated Love.
And if ever I am tempted to think that Gary doesn’t love me as much as I love him because of something he did or didn’t do, I can’t withhold my love from him and wait for him to “shape up”. That’s not how Jesus loves. Jesus knows that after we repent, we’re still going to fall and fail Him. He doesn’t count how may times He had to forgive our sins, and He doesn’t tell us that He’s tired of giving us so many chances. He doesn’t regret sacrificing His very life to save us…just so we can be with Him for all eternity in Heaven.
That’s how I need to love my husband, with the heart of Jesus. Because God knows – and so does Gary – that I’m not perfect, either…
“The real power is love, that which empowers others, that which arouses action, that which no chain is able to hold back, for even on the Cross or on the death bed one is able to love. One does not need youthful beauty, nor recognition or approval, nor money or prestige. Let love simply bloom… and it is unstoppable.” – Pope Francis