How I See Love
The best metaphor for how I see love is the form of a Rubik's Cube, specifically in the form of being mixed up. We can try to categorize and go back and figure out where each little square of color came from and retrace it and figure out its "cube-side" origins. In a Rubik's cube, we can actually put it all back together, nice and neat. That's where life is so different. We might see evidence of where our understanding of love came from, but we can't retrace it and make it all go back together. Our formed understandings will always look like the messy form of the cube and that is beautiful too.
My earliest impressions of love were that it involves sacrifice. My father quit his job as a plumber for another company to embark on his own business adventure. This was probably exciting but frightening with their family beginning at the same time. My mother quit her job when my younger brother was born to stay at home with us and help my dad run his business. As I grew, I know my parents gave up things they wanted or even needed to be sure that the three of us had what we needed. They wanted us to further our education more than each of them were able. They wanted us to have choices in extra-curricular activities and hobbies. They wanted the best for us and made sacrifices to make that happen.
Later, when I became a follower of Jesus, the idea of sacrifice to show love for someone was a concept I could understand because I had witnessed it in my parents' love for many years. Of course, its magnified when we're talking about the God of the universe though! The passage from Matthew Chapter 7 comes to mind (Ask, Seek, Knock). My reading of this passage for this comparison speaks to me like this: If the best experiences of love on earth can come from sinful people (We are all sinful people.), then how much more complete and wonderful is the love of God?
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
Today, as a wife and parent, I can't forget about the sacrifice that comes with deep love - when we want the best for our loved ones and will ultimately our ourselves out for them. So, still today, in a deep part of me, I understand love to be coupled with sacrifice. True love is selfless.
My parents love me. I know this to be true. But, I never witnessed warmth and friendship between them. They didn't go on dates. They didn't laugh together. Their relationship was more defined by their family roles and expectations of each other than it was by quality time or recollecting good moments. I knew I dreamed of something different for myself someday.
As I sought friends in high school, I loved to laugh with them and create memories with them. I still hold those friends and moments close to my heart and know that a new part of me was formed then. I think my search for light-hearted moments was part of my personal quest. I am sure my giggles and chatter made some wonder if I was at all serious...but to me, this was a type of serious study and a desire to be accepted.
I had a pretty long on-and-off dating relationship with one person between high school and college. Sometimes when people end those longer relationships, I guess they question the lost time as they go their separate ways and wonder what the point of it all might have been. As a twenty-two year old girl nearly done with college when it ended, I didn't wonder. I was incredibly thankful for the time and lessons that the relationship had taught me. As high schoolers, we spent most weekends sitting around his family dinner table, chatting with his parents. They laughed together and modeled such deep friendship, recalling anecdotes of the largest ice cream cone ever or the polka traditions at their Polish family weddings. I got an amazing glimpse into what a marriage could look like. There were moments that this person's parents were like transitional parents for me too and I will always be grateful.
Through these experiences, I have discovered that friendship is a building block of love. I've also learned that it isn't formed before marriage and maintained, but it continues to grow. I continue to grow deeper in friendship to my husband and I look forward to the new ways in which I might "get him" or he might "get me" in the years to come. I also hope to model that friendship for my own sons.
I'm at the stove, trying to put something together for dinner, even though we're low on supplies. Brady was supposed to go to the grocery store after work, but after work got really late. I need to feed the kids before they go to their activities and so in a quick fix, I start being creative...but inside I'm angry. The truth is that our timing is just off for shopping but I feel like he is putting me in a tough spot. When Brady walks through the door, groceries or no groceries, I confess that I blame him out of my anxiety. When that domino-effect gets rolling, I blame him for even more than is his fault. This is my major wife-downfall. I lose reality and perspective when I get really anxious. We might have a quick argument about it all, but after we both cool off, he always reminds me that we are on the same team. Its not me versus him in the race to being the best parent. We parent together. Sometimes I need that reminder.
Throughout college and beyond, I have had two older, married friends. They are just thoughtful, kind, and patient friends that modeled a healthy young marriage and early parenting examples for me. I saw them figuring out co-owning a home and how to balance work and home maintenance along with making time for each other and for friends. Later, they taught me how to bathe a new baby and how to purchase breathable bumpers and decorate a nursery, but I also witnessed them actively parenting together and taking turns. Over the years, they demonstrated how they each valued the other's expertise. They modeled amazing communication and packed in busy family days, never complaining about tough moments but just being so glad that they got to be a team.
Those friends are still often my inspiration. Their example reminds me of what I need to work on personally. My husband's calm in the midst of my storms reminds me that we are on the same team. We are working towards the same goals. I have grown to see teamwork as essential in understanding love. No person is an island. We are so much better together.
As a woman who has been married to my amazing life partner, Brady, for over 10 years, I am in awe of how our love and friendship, sacrifice, and teamwork grow and improve with age. There were most certainly the years with newborn babies when it didn't feel like we were really growing but just trying to make it through exhausting nights and days. The growth was happening then too, just too far below the surface of our heavy eyelids to be identified. Now that we're out of that stage, we can have wonderful conversations that get to happen from start to finish! We can put the kids to bed and have a movie date. We can go out for dinner whenever we can get a babysitter without clocking feeding times or wondering if a babysitter can get them to sleep okay. This stage is awesome!
I read someone's Valentine tribute post the other day that said, "You found parts of me I didn't know existed. And in you, I have found love I never knew existed." And I just pondered that for awhile, thinking about how those words make sense in our love relationship. I was re-reading a few old journal entries the other day. There was one from when Brady and I were just friends getting to know each other. We had been having a pretty serious conversation about God and I reflected about it later in my journal. I wrote, "I told him I appreciated his gentle heart (and his) non-criticizing way of telling me things." Brady has always offered new ideas, even criticism, without making me feel embarrassed, feel self-loathing, or regret. He has always been my encourager. We have been this for each other! We encouraged each other to finish our Masters' Degrees with a new baby. He encouraged me when I left my other career behind. I encouraged his interviews for West Coast jobs and his job change. He encouraged me to start my business and to invest in myself. He is appreciative of me and encourages me to be the best version of myself. I want the same for him.
Through Brady, I have gained a sense of the encouragement that love can give, without the warning strings of failure pulling back. The new color in my Rubik's cube is that of encouragement, which is deeply a part of love.
I know what love is because of so many people, circumstances, and pondering sessions in my life. But, I get to see them all come together at their best in my life with Brady. The challenges we face allow us to learn together, to work together, to be a team, to make sacrifices for each other or for our children, to be friends, to grow spiritually, and to always be encouraging each other onward in this life together.
If you've got a story on HOW YOU SEE LOVE, I'd love to read it! Consider sharing it in the comments below or emailing me about doing a Blog Post together!
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If you want to check out my last Blog post, it's called: Reason, Passion, Heart.