How do you know what love looks like?
The black and white screen rolls love as a crazy romantic race through traffic. Cars and semi-trucks screech to a halt as a mad dash is made for a final chance at love. And a kiss that tilts worlds is seen at the top of a high rise or on a bridge with water glistening underneath.
But this man that I married? He’s never dashed through traffic causing cars to nearly collide for me.
I thought my heart would nearly burst.
But in the movies, that’s the part where the story ends. The lights turn on.
The living of love gets lost in the credits.
And we wonder how we can make it to the next happily-ever-after snapshot.
There was the day he met me at the hospital, and held my hand through the tests and the needles and the pain aching for the baby we never got to hold. And though I couldn’t breathe past the tears, I never did suffocate with him by my side.
And when the babies did come, I threw up all over our little blue car as we drove home from church one night. And he got me cleaned up and tucked in bed, and tackled the car himself without complaint. And nights after he’d make me buttered noodles and go for vanilla steamers or Hostess cupcakes when I couldn’t sleep. And as my tummy grew, he slept on the floor beside the bed so there would be room for me and my fifteen pillows.
He never dashed through traffic for me.
He sat for days in the hospital by my side as I lay swollen and puffy and greasy. And every twenty minutes he’d help me roll my ginormous belly over to ease the pain just a little. And with bags under my eyes and wrinkles and flabby skin that made me gawk, I looked up to see the love in his eyes despite how I looked.
For years he held my hand through contractions deep and five times watched as the doctor sliced open my tummy. He stood with awe-filled tears as a tiny foot stuck straight out from inside. And smiled big through the weighing and the bathing and the miraculous lives changing. The scars would remain as a reminder of our aging love.
He’s changed black-tar-filled diapers and gotten peed on at 2am. He’s walked for hours with baby in one hand and Bible in the other.
He’s stood in the checkout lane with only maxi pads and some sort of chocolate all because this wife he loves is having a crazy emergency.
He’s held doors open and given me the best pieces of chocolate cake. He’s mowed the lawn hundreds of times and cooked meals when I was sick or lazy. He’s taken off training wheels and showed how to shoot a basketball. He’s wrestled and tickled and thrown hundreds of baseballs, and taken time to listen to an emotional three-year-old. He’s carried us when we were too tired or too weak or to heartbroken to stand. Though sleep-starved himself, he’s calmed shaking little ones in the midst of a storm. And still stayed awake till early morning preparing sermons to all who would listen.
He’s never dashed through traffic for me, or kissed me in the middle of a bridge.
Yet every weekday for nearly two years straight, he woke before the sunrise to go to a job that was less than thrilling just to provide for his family. And through discouragement and heart bleeding, still had the passion to seek God and His calling. And now he gives daily of his time and energy to teach the heart of God and to love on the hurting.
And everyday little eyes watch expectantly out the window for the rusted van. And kids come running, tripping over each other to be the first to hug and share their day with the man who is our anchor and protector. And every night they climb on top of him, trying to be the closest to the man who lives the truth of Christ.
He gives his time so that I can pour my heart into a Bible Study. And he sacrifices a wife who sews buttons on and clips coupons and irons his clothes for one who spends countless moments stringing words together.
And with kids sleeping he reaches out under the covers with a soft brush of his hand, and he warms me gentle – even when things are ugly and it seems we’re worlds apart, he’s always striving to mend the broken pieces back together.
He’s never dashed through traffic for me. Or stood in front of a city bus looming. Or hopped taxis or trains to tell me he loves me.
But he’s climbed stairs to come after me, and knelt right down in humility. He’s showed me Christ. Living love in the little monotonous moments. One moment, one day, one grocery store run, one act of forgiveness at a time. Laying down his life and giving no matter if I am wretched or wrinkled or lovely.
And that’s what love looks like.
To the world it may look boring – not choreographed or flashy. To me it’s goose-bump worthy and a whole lot like the gospel story lived out right in front of me.
Happy Birthday to the man I love! Oh, this love that is wild and growing and passionately giving through the monotonous, beautiful days. Thank you for showing me Christ. I can’t help but want to follow you! With my heart melting into yours – All my love!