Several years back I enjoyed a wonderful conversation over tea with my husband’s grandmother about her life’s experiences. The wisdom shared by this kind and gentle woman of purity, grace and impeccable character was genuine and sincere. One piece of advice took root immediately in my heart when Grandma Clarice shared with me her memory of the wonderful fifty-five years of marriage she had experienced with her adoring husband. When I asked her to explain to me how and why her marriage withstood the test of time and overflowed with contentment, her answer was simple and profound as she said, “just love.”
Over the years I have pondered her statement many times and shared her advice with several friends along the way. Coming from her lips this virtue sounded so easy, but I guess that’s what happens when maturity and experience do the talking. In my still emerging walk towards humility, growth and understanding in my marriage, those two simple words don’t always seem possible.
When my husband forgets I have planned a special family meal and comes home late from work without courteously calling to let me know, just love?
After my spouse and I agree on something as a couple and then later he makes his own decision, just love?
How about when I come home after a rare day away and see coats, shoes, clothes and socks strewn around different rooms in the house and piles of dirty dishes in the sink? Just love? I don’t think so – that’s when I want to let loose, Aretha style, and boisterously sing, “What’s love got to do with it!?”
What’s love got to do with it? Everything…
When I spoke my vows on our wedding day, I entered into a covenant with my spouse. Before God, I promised to love and care for the man God graciously placed in my life through good times and bad. I didn’t read the fine print at the time, but over the course of our relationship I have realized that the “good times and bad” promise had an asterisk which denoted I accept everything that pleases me and brings me joy as well as appreciate the things that irritate me to no end – no exceptions.
I am learning just how selfish I have been over seventeen years. My husband is a wonderful, loving, supportive, kind, generous and selfless man, who accepts me and all my imperfections, loves our children with all his heart and provides for our every need – and then some. It is quite humbling and painful to look over the years of our marriage and recall all the times I have missed the opportunity to “just love” in lieu of “just hold a grudge’, or “just lay blame”, or “just be angry.”
Grandma Clarice was ninety years old when she shared her secret anecdote, undoubtedly with an understanding twinkle in her eye. She has since gone on to live with her Savior and husband – a beautiful reunion between our Lord and his good and faithful servants. And those two little words spoken to me over a warm cup of tea summarize her legacy. A legacy that remains firmly pressed in my heart, one that I have passed on to my children, and I hope and pray, one that will continue inspiring generations yet to come.
“Where there is no love, put love — and you will find love.” St. John of the Cross
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