This is an interesting year as far as Valentine's Day goes. Gary and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary on Tuesday by going away overnight and going out for a steak dinner and relaxing in the hotel's pool and hot tub. It was nice to get away from everyday stresses for a day or so and just enjoy being together. I'm so glad God led us together so many years ago and has blessed our marriage.
I've been upset to hear of so many couples we know of who have divorced. Sadly, it seems like many of them are pastors or missionaries. I think it just reminds us that Satan often targets people in ministry and we need to stay strong and fight back when we're tempted to let the stresses and pressures of life drive a wedge between us.
I'm afraid it may have been a bad idea to wait until 11 p.m. to write this blog post. Bear with me while I try to say something that will make sense and hopefully encourage you. As I was saying, this is an interesting year. What I'm mainly referring to is the release of that awful movie, "Fifty Shades of Grey." Even though I don't plan to see it, it seems to have cast a negative shadow on Valentine's Day for me this year. I can hardly believe that so many people are excited about seeing it and that they consider it "romantic" when it deals with such violence in the name of "love." I'll refrain from more opinions and just encourage you to stay away from it so that your mind is not poisoned by the images and ideas it illustrates.
Instead, let's focus on real love. Real love is not violent and overbearing. It is patient and kind and understanding. As broken human beings, we won't ever love the people in our lives perfectly, but we can keep trying to love as Jesus loves. We can apologize when we make mistakes and we can choose to love even when it's hard.
The devotional our family read from today had a quote from the movie "A League of Their Own." Star catcher Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) wants to quit the women's professional baseball team and she tells the manager, Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks).
"It just got too hard," she says.
"It's supposed to be hard," Dugan says. "If it weren't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great."
The hard is what makes it great. Those words have stuck with me. I know I tend to stick to the easy stuff most of the time, but as I look back over my life, this phrase is true.
Practicing for hours on my high school swim team was hard but it was great to win some races and be in shape.
Playing piano and guitar to get ready for a performance is hard work, but it's great to master a song and have an audience enjoy it.
Parenting four children with different temperaments and character traits is hard, but it's great to see the young men and women they are becoming.
Being married to the same person for 25 years is hard at times, but it is so rewarding to reach that milestone and still feel in love with your best friend. The hard is what makes it great.
We can do the hard things. We don't have to take the easy way out when we reach a rough spot in the road. God will show us what to do. We also can't worry about others judging us for the choices we make. Sometimes getting out of a difficult situation is the hard thing that will bring us to something great (I'm thinking things like spouses in abusive situations and my own decision to stop teaching full-time because of the depression it led to). Stay close to God and He will show you the next step in your journey. The thing He will always want you to do is show love.
Have a Happy Valentine's Day as you focus on real love.
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
(I John 4:7-11 NIV)
Are you confused about what real love looks like? Can you see how focusing on the love that Jesus shows can help you show real love to your spouse, your children, and everyone God has placed in your life? How can doing the hard thing lead to something great?