Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Thoughts

It's Valentine's Day, the day our thoughts all turn to love...

This morning, my thoughts are not especially romantic--although my love and I exchanged Valentine's Day greetings this morning and I posted something on his Facebook wall already.  But I'm thinking of love in general, in our families.

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  (1 John 3:18) 

Words are important and affirming.  I have noticed lately that as a family, we are more and more likely to end each phone conversation, each goodbye as we run out the door, with "Bye--I love you." It's significant and meaningful to say these words frequently.

But if our words say "I love you," and yet we are unable to find time or energy to help our kids with homework, or help with their broken [fill in the blank], to listen to their piano piece, to play that game they keep begging us to play, what are our actions saying? 

As wives, what are the things we know our husbands wish we would do for them or with them, but we keep putting them off? Are our actions in line with our words of love? Husbands, same question!

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) 

Making sure each one in our family knows love is the most important thing we can do as parents and as spouses.  It may be "tough love."  Love doesn't mean giving everything everyone wants. We have to say no, we have to set boundaries; we have to call out the good and squelch the bad.  But we have to strive to do it with love, even when a heavy hand is needed.  Our children--even our spouse--can fear consequences, but they shouldn't fear us.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  (1 Peter 4:8) 

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible.  I know it was true for me, growing up.  My parents weren't perfect, but I knew they loved me.  That truly covered over a multitude of imperfect situations, and the foundation I grew on was one of love.  

I trust that in some supernatural way, love cancels out my multitude of sins against those I love. We have laid a foundation of love in our home too, and I know that our kids know they are loved. By God's grace, they even feel loved by each other, not just by their parents. They give thanks for their family every time we pray--I am so grateful to God.

My husband knows that my love for him cannot be quenched, even by many waters, even when there is ebb rather than flow. We both sin against each other, regularly, even daily, but in the Lord's mercy, there is love to cover over every one. Sometimes we have to do more than cover over; we have to talk about those sins, expose, confess, forgive. But the starting point for those conversations has to be love. 

I close with this video, which was one of the links in this excellent article on fights in marriage by Ann Voskamp.  This researcher says something really important about love as emotional responsiveness. What she doesn't spell out, but I think is implicit, is that in order for emotional responsiveness to occur in the crisis, it has to be there in the day-to-day.  Not just in words, but with actions and in truth.

Happy Valentine's Day, one and all!

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