Living Out Love

After all of these children moved into my body and made it their home, their moving out has left the dwelling somewhat like a college frat house - a bit untidy, and in a state of disrepair.

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Last year, what had started out as an on-going mild inconvenience, suddenly turned into a full blown problem. Some mornings, the simple act of getting out of the bed was extremely painful, and lifting and carrying a crying child in the middle of the night was completely out of the question!

Most days my back would loosen up enough to allow me to do my job without a great deal of difficulty, other days I had to rely on anti-inflammatory or pain relieving medications to help me through the day. On occasion, I was forced to set aside my to-do list and make a new plan for what I was actually able to accomplish. I definitely have a new compassion for people who live with chronic pain.

I had to start every morning sitting with a heating pad - sometimes for a half-hour, sometimes for more than an hour, while I did my "soul nourishing." At some point, my tiny children would wake up and sit by me while I waited for my back to cooperate. And we cuddled, warm under an afghan, and we talked, and I would smell their heads. So it was not ALL terrible!

I also had to give up exercise completely since that would set me up for a great deal of pain the next morning. I didn't like that last adjustment. I want to be healthy and trim off the extra pounds that those babies left laying around!

After an MRI, I was told that I had significant degeneration in my spine for my age. It would require physical therapy or surgery to correct this.

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 Over the months my husband had watched me grit my teeth some mornings as I inched out of bed, at times sitting right down on the floor to catch my breath and change my posture before trying to stand and walk. He saw me flinch throughout the day if I made just the wrong move and my back complained about it.

One day he announced that he would be ordering a new mattress. An expensive new mattress. One of those mattresses that advertises that it can make a difference for back pain.

He'd been thinking about it and saving up for it for a while.

A loving gesture.

A thoughtful gift.

But this story is about to get ugly.

(You might want to close your eyes.)

At our Valentines dinner my husband gave our children gifts (as he does every year), but there was nothing in the bag for me.

I was calm.
Valentine's day-ish.
But in my heart I was questioning his love for me.
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"Why didn't he get something for me? I am the 'sweetheart' here, not the children, after all!" were the thoughts that plagued my mind the next day as I cried selfish pity-party tears.

Finally, I screwed up the courage and told him that what he had done on Valentine's Day had hurt me deeply.

"What did I do?" he asked incredulously.

I recounted my version of the events.

He was hurt that I had wasted any time thinking that. He explained how he thought that he had made it clear that (hopefully) pain-free sleeping was his gift of love to me at Valentine's Day. He didn't think that I would want candy since I am trying to be more healthy, or the half dead flowers at the grocery store or a cheesy card. He was giving me the best thing he could think of and I had not seen the value that it possessed!

You see, my husband is the kind of man who believes in Living out your Love.

He began to explain his frustration over Valentine's Day, saying that people go out of their way to show love on that one day, when they SHOULD be showing that kind of love all year. He does not value the day because it is nothing more than an ordinary day to him - just another day (like ALL days) to Live out Love.
His love is practical.
It is everyday.
If I say, "My love-tank is feeling a little bit low." He will clean the bathroom or run the vacuum.
This is true love.
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Because, despite which love language you most relate to, what it comes down to is that the essence of love is giving of yourself for someone else.

Love is doing what is best for the other person at my own expense.
It is not a fluffy feeling, it involves inconvenience – even sacrifice.
It can mean getting out of a warm bed into a cold night...
driving miles out of the way...
cleaning up vomit...
canceling a much anticipated outing…
and any number of other inconveniences - - even though the sacrifice may go unrequited.

 I have never seen a successful marriage that did not involve this kind of sacrifice.

-- Of course, when both parties recognize that inconvenience is part of love, and when the sacrifice is reciprocated, that is when the fuzzy feelings kick in. You FEEL loved knowing that someone cares enough to inconvenience themselves for you.

To sacrifice something.

To do what is best for you at their own expense.

- - And that is just exactly what Jesus Christ did for you! (You did not think that I was going to leave HIM out of this story did you? If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know me better than that!)
THAT is where TRUE love comes from!
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13


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