Monday, May 26, 2008

True Love

In my past experience as a nurse in the Home Health setting, and more recently as we are supporting my mother-in-law in the journey of my father-in-law's Alzheimer's, I've learned some wonderful lessons about love. Commitment. What it means to serve your spouse, in sickness & in health, for better or for worse. When age & illness have taken up permanent residence, and when "better" and "worse" are only relative terms that can change on a daily, or even hourly, basis.

And as the annual "wedding season" is upon us, with its blushing brides (I pray that there are still a few who DO blush!), nervous grooms, tender vows, and dreams of "happily ever after," I've been thinking about how I've seen love in the waning years demonstrated .

When all that remains is a shell of the person you married, what then?

As I was with my mother-in-law this weekend, and we made daily trips to the facility where my father-in-law currently is, these words came to mind:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I Corinthians 13:4-7

Familiar words, no doubt. But they have taken on a whole new meaning to me now:
  • Love is patient. When you can't understand what he says. When you tell him "Hi, honey, it's me" 3 or 4 times in the same visit. When his condition is the same day after day after day.
  • Love is kind. When he doesn't know or care if you are there, you go anyway. When he can't manage his basic needs, you willingly do it for him, whether it is brushing his teeth, wiping his nose, or other personal matters. Love speaks kindly of him to others.
  • Love does not boast, it is not proud. It's about his needs being met, not about you receiving accolades.
  • Love is not self-seeking. You do what you do because because you love him and it is the right thing to do, not for attention. Nor for martyrdom.
  • Love is not easily angered. When he's confused and agitated, you don't take it personally. You know he doesn't understand or intend what he says or does.
  • Love keeps no record of wrongs. You let go of what happened 10, 20, 40 years ago, not thinking "he deserves this" or "I don't deserve this."
  • Love always protects. You "go to bat" for him, making sure he gets the best of care. Even if you'd rather not make that phone call or confront that staff member.
  • Love always perseveres. You "keep on keeping on," with God's grace, strength, and presence, fulfilling your vow 'til death doth us part.

(Of course, this demonstration of love isn't limited to marriage relationships. These examples are also ways we honor our parents and our husband's parents in their twilight years. Much easier to type than to do, 'tis true. I struggle with this on an almost daily basis with my mom.)

All that I learn, all that I know, all that I expound upon, are worthless trash if I don't live in this "most excellent way." The key, I suspect, is to use opportunities to sacrificially show love to my husband now as a dress rehearsal, so to speak, for the grand finale, so that by then it will be second nature.

Impossible? Absolutely -- in my flesh! -- but God's grace is sufficient, and His power provides all I need.

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14 comments:

Xandra said...

Linda,

I know this is a difficult time for your family, but this was a beautiful post. I hope and pray that I have the grace and fortitude to be so loving and patient. What a joy and blessing to see your MIL demonstrating such devotion!

Xandra

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Beautiful post, Linda. Your mother-in-law is modeling agape love. And that kind of love only comes from God. We can't sustain it for more than a few minutes.

Becoming Me said...

Oh, this really pulled at my heart. Beautiful post. And I am praying for you dear friend.

Genny said...

What a great post! Thanks for the important reminder.

Misty said...

i had to memorize that passage while in counseling and you have made it so beautiful that i think i need to memorize it again! thank you so much for sharing!

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

So beautiful, Linda...

beyond this moment said...

I'm normally just a drive-by reader... but I had to comment. Beautiful post Linda. I have tears in my eyes. I saw this love revealed in my parents when my dad was dying... it touches my heart.

Sandy@ Jesus and Dark Chocolate said...

Wow that is truly an example of scripture in action. I am always reminded of the words to love and to cherish. To love and cherish our spouse despite the range of daily emotions we deal with. Your example really drove home that reminder to me.
Thanks for posting your thoughts and heart.

Tammy said...

Wow...this was a wonderful post.

It's so easy for brides and grooms to all caught up in the excitement...but another thing to mean the vows and live them out. Day by day.
Your mother in law is being put to one of the extreme cases of "in sickness and in health" and I can only imagine how hard it all is...but that is most certainly true love in the very best sense of the word!
Blessings,
~Tammy

Lisa a.k.a. The Preacher's Wife said...

There are so many walking the road of caregiving who could use this post.

Of course, so can the rest of us...

Kelli said...

Bless you, Linda, as you and your husband honor your parents so biblically. This post touched my heart.

Kelli

Tracy said...

So beautiful! Praise God for a daily portion of his grace as we seek to demonstrate biblical love in our marriages. What a lovely example you've given us.

Blessings,
Tracy

Gunter & Bethany said...

Linda, I'm a first-time blog visitor, and wow. Thank you for taking note of this godly example of love and sharing it with the rest of us. I've only been married for two years, but I can attest that real, deep love is not in the flowers or candles but in the sacrificing for each other.

Lisa writes... said...

I can only echo what others have said: Beautiful. Moving. Poignant. True love, indeed, that loves in spite of...