Since it is February, I feel like everyone is talking about love right now, so I decided to jump in too. After all, Valetines is the anniversary of our first date. There was a Valentine’s banquet at my church that he took me to. I guess my folks figured that it was a safe bet for a first date. The following day he went sledding with my family and me. Then we came back to my house for dinner and a movie with my family. During the movie he leaned over and whispered, “I want to tell you something, but I don’t want you to say anything back.” I was confused but agreed. He leaned back over and whispered, “I love you.” I was speechless so not saying anything back was a very simple request to grant. He later told me that he didn’t want to tell me he loved me on Valentines because he wanted me to know he truly meant it. So, he waited…one whole day. Patience has never been his strong suit. He obviously meant it because here we are 24 years later, and he still tells me every day that he loves me.

Love has become such a convoluted concept. It started in the 60’s with the hippies and their “free love” movement. If we’re honest, free love just meant sex outside of marriage with multiple different partners. Now we have the “love is love” movement. It’s just the hippie concept broadened to include those of the same sex. In these instances, love is synonymous with sex. We use the word love for everything here in America. We love our sports, our coffee, our friends, our coffee, our pets, our coffee, our family…the list is never ending. And then we read that God is love and that He loved us so much He sent His Son. I love my coffee, but I wouldn’t give up a child for it, at least not on most days. No wonder there’s so much confusion over what love is.

On February 15th, 1999, when Jason said he loved me, I knew he meant it. To be honest though, I didn’t really know what that meant. How would you describe love? A warm fuzzy feeling? Butterflies in your stomach? I recently heard this definition of it, love is a choice of your will accompanied by emotion that acts on its object. I had to sit there and chew on that for a while. I began to think back on all the times I felt most loved. It surprised me to realize that it wasn’t the most obvious ones. For instance, it wasn’t when Jason proposed, or at my wedding, or when each of our kids was born. Those were all amazing moments, but not the times I felt the most loved. It was the first morning after bringing Justin home from the hospital. Jason had taken him downstairs so that I could get some rest. I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I made my way downstairs. Jason was sitting in a rocking chair with Justin wrapped up in a blanket. The sun was streaming in through the window and Jason was quietly talking to his now sleeping son. I slowed to listen, not wanting to interrupt this moment. He was telling Justin of all the wonderful things they were going to do together. All the grand adventures they would have and everything he was going to teach him. I was overwhelmed by love. Or the time Megan had come home after a horrible day. She ran over to her daddy and climbed up in his lap and wept. He wrapped his arms around her and rocked her slowly, the fireplace blazing behind them. Whispering words of comfort and love, I watched the tension, from her little body slowly melt away. Love at its purest. Or when we found out I could live in less pain by moving 2500 miles away from everything and everyone we knew and loved. He didn’t even hesitate. These are the moments I’ve felt most loved.

Love is a choice of your will accompanied by emotion that acts on its object. In these moments and multiple other ones, Jason made a choice to love us. There was no benefit in it for him. In marriages today the philosophy of, “find someone who makes you happy,” is touted as the end all in finding a spouse. If Jason had only stuck with me if I was making him happy, he would have been gone long ago. Taking care of me after surgeries and through all my health issues isn’t what anyone would describe as fun. Because he loves me though, he does it without even thinking twice about it. In fact, he would be appalled that I’m even giving him credit for that right now. Throughout Scripture, God compares His relationship with us like a marriage. I feel like our American views of marriage cheapens what He was trying to convey. Marriage isn’t about making me happy, fulfilling my ever-shifting needs, or stroking my ego. Marriage is so much more meaningful than that. Marriage is about sacrificing what I want to serve the one I love. I love it when Jason does special things for me, like buying me coffee. But when I feel the most loved is when he sacrifices his desires for what I need. With no expectations of anything in return. This is true love. Laying down your personal desires for the benefit of your spouse. Caring more about their needs than your own. It’s not a 50/50 split. Each person must give 100%. In return, you will be more fulfilled and completed than you could ever imagine. This type of marriage is what I pray for my kids. When God created Adam, He created him with a need for a spouse. Someone to complete him in ways that only Eve could. Jason was created for me and I for him. So, in honor of our Valentine’s Day, I will no longer stay silent. I love you, Jason, with all my heart and will to my dying day.

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