Here are some things I’ve learned about love:
It is not something that “happens” to you. It is not something you “fall into.” It does not occur at “first sight.”
This my friends, is called infatuation. And infatuation doesn’t stick around. As soon as the rubber meets the road, infatuation high tails it, and leaves you to make the decision to stick it out long enough to find what I affectionately call steadfast (true) love.
Love isn’t found, it’s built.
The change we so badly wish to see in each other takes time. Years, even. Our Pastor once said, while talking about change, “You never witness a tree growing.” One day you just notice it’s taller, stronger. Bearing fruit, providing shade. It’s so true. If I were to sit by a sapling, and wait for an apple to appear, I would soon grow impatient and walk away. No, I have to be patient, water, prune and allow God to provide the nutrients needed. I need to trust there will one day be fruit.
Butterflies aren’t a sign of love.
Stop chasing the butterflies. Put your head down and your feet forward and fail at loving well with the one next to you. Forgive, and keep walking.
The only way I can connect a butterfly to love is to compare it to the crazy amazing change that the creature goes through. It starts as a somewhat creepy little worm, and after the metamorphosis takes place—the mystery of the cocoon, the darkness, the CHANGE—out breaks this beautiful thing that barely resembles what it once was. It no longer crawls precariously on a branch…it flies.
Try telling the caterpillar that she will one day fly, and watch her laugh in your face.
It’s just as hard for some to believe such a change can take place in their marriage, but it can. It does all the time. I know, because I have the great privilege of hearing from women who have experienced it. I have been the laughing worm. I have felt confined. I have felt the fear of that pitch-black place in my own personal cocoon. And I’ve seen the changes that have slowly taken place. It leaves me hopeful.
Don’t worry if you don’t “feel” like you love your spouse.
I have said it before: Your heart will follow your actions, and one day you will be glad you stayed. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Your heart needs to follow you, not the other way around.
You don’t want to be led around by something that does not see the whole picture. Your heart does not take into consideration all of the important details. It only sees the “now.” It longs for the butterflies—the infatuation—and then it sits down and weeps when those things fail to bring happiness and satisfaction. No, your heart is not reliable.
Steadfast love, it’s where it’s at.
Love is not something to be stumbled upon. It’s not luck. It’s created bit by bit, day by day. It’s a marathon. A novel. A symphony. It takes time. It’s the tree that’s tall enough to give shade and comfort, and has roots deep enough to withstand the storm. Yes, it’s difficult. But the only way to get there is by pushing through, resting in hope and holding on to the knowledge, the promise, that change is slow, but worth the wait.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” —Romans 5:3-4