When I think about this blog and what it is meant to be, very often I think about how I have failed at this blogging enterprise (and for the sake of drawing in a following and making a name for myself, I have) but then something like this article comes along and I am reminded that this is the purpose of this blog: to remind me, and anybody who stops by, of what it means to be a great husband and father, and what it takes to truly love, and live, and serve as Joseph did for Mary and Jesus.
Today’s bit of wisdom comes from the exceptional blog, Speaking of Scripture (really, you should read everything they post!). Peter Williamson sets up a little story of two disciples walking with Jesus wanting to learn about Love. They simply ask him, “What is true love?” Here is just a snippet of what he had to say:
“If a man and a woman find joy in one another’s presence,
if they can scarcely keep themselves apart,
if to her,
He is like the sun rising in its strength and beauty,
if she loves to hear his voice, to look at Him and to feel his arms around her,
and if to him,
She is like the moon and ten thousand stars shining on a summer’s night,
or like the fragrance of roses at dawn….
if her touch is like magic and her kisses sweeter than wine,
if they love to laugh together, sing together, dance together, cry together—
this is a gift from God, it is good.
But, I tell you solemnly, this is not true love;
it is changeable, and you cannot rely on it.”
Such a beautiful expression of what society would tell us is true love. A couple who enjoys spending time with one another and wouldn’t dream of spending one day out of the presence of the other without an aching heart and yet that is not enough! It is almost unfathomable anymore that more would be expected of us and our relationship with our spouse. So often we get caught up in the emotions and the ‘feeling’ of love and we fail to seek true love, which is described later in the story.
“If a man chooses to love his wife as Christ loves his Church,
if like Christ, he lays aside his pride and sacrifices himself for her—
putting her needs before his needs,
her happiness before his happiness,
if he will care for her and take thought for her,
if he chooses to keep loving her
when their interests diverge,
when her youthful beauty fades,
when she doesn’t speak sweetly
and when he doesn’t feel ‘loving’….
“And if a woman chooses to put her husband first,
to follow his lead as the true Church defers to her heavenly Bridegroom,
if she is patient with his failings (those he sees and those he does not),
if she encourages him and forgives him,
if she respects him even when his faults are obvious or she must pay the price for his mistakes,
if she has the courage to tell him the truth in love,
yet stand by him through it all….
I love this explanation and yet, I still find it wanting (practically speaking). The student in me still says, but what does that really look like? I mean, that sort of sounds exhausting and somewhat depressing: “her needs before his needs, her happiness before his happiness” and “she respects him even when his faults are obvious or she must pay for his mistakes.” How can there be true joy and a strong marriage when she gets everything and I get nothing; when I have to pay for his mistakes? But then I would be missing the point. Marriage is about MUTUAL self-sacrifice! Love becomes an act of giving. If I have it, it is yours; if I want it, you may have it; if I need it, it is for you. And in that giving, you take away all the superficial stuff that can change or decay and get in the way of true love and you find yourself united forever to an eternal soul, whose Source will forever feed you with life, peace, and joy.