Mate for Life

I never thought a sandhill crane would make me cry.

A pair of sandhill cranes were living in our little corner of the neighborhood for the last year. It seems fitting, since they happen to be the logo of our development.

We’ve watched them establish a routine. Foraging for food. Teasing our dogs by remaining just outside the boundary of the invisible fence that corrals our two eager boxers. Proclaiming, quite loudly, that they were large and in charge.

And always together. Until now.

For the past week, we’ve only seen one. One by himself (herself?) searching for food. And looking ever so lonely. I find myself hoping against hope that he’s alone because his mate is nesting somewhere in the area. Wishing that she’ll accompany him again a month from now with two newly hatched chicks. Mate for Life

Because, you see, sandhill cranes are one of those breeds that mate for life. And life for them is usually longer than 20 years. They mate when they’re about 2 years old, and spend the next 20-30 years nesting, raising chicks, and watching them leave to start their own families.

A circle of life. The rhythm of nature.

It makes me appreciate the lifetime I’ve had with my own husband. Seasons and decades. Experiences that have been good, bad, and occasionally so ugly the only thing you can do is stifle a gag reflex. Otherwise known as life.

There’s something special about sharing all those things across decades with one person. With someone who knows you, sometimes better than you know yourself. Someone who gets your quirks, overlooks your faults, and loves you anyway.

Someone who understands what real love is. Not just the hearts-and-flowers kind of love celebrated once a year on Valentine’s Day. But a love that’s in it for the duration. A love that puts the other person’s needs and desires ahead of your own. And a love that never lets go.

I’m grateful for that kind of love. For the “mate for a lifetime” commitment. I know that not everyone has the opportunity for that experience, and I don’t take it for granted.

So here’s my challenge…
Valentine’s Day has passed, but don’t wait another 12 months to show your love. While hearts and flowers are nice, consider other ways to communicate the deep joy and privilege of doing life together.

Identify a task the other person is responsible for, and surprise him or her by taking care of it. Do something together to get out of your rut. It doesn’t have to be dinner at a fancy restaurant (although that’s always nice!). Perhaps a spontaneous neighborhood walk after dinner. Or maybe sharing, without jokes or teasing, how much he or she means to you. Hold hands. Lock eyes with a smile. Bite your tongue when he leaves his clothes on the floor (again!). Or when she tells you (for the 20th time!) to pick up your clothes.

Expressing love—real love—isn’t easy to do day in and day out. We’re selfish by nature. We want our marriage and our world to revolve around us, not around the other person. And we want it now.

Christians know that to maintain this kind of deep, unselfish, humble love requires the supernatural equipping of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who encourages, prompts, and gives us the desire to love our spouse the way we want to be loved. 

And if you need additional motivation, consider my lonely sandhill crane. Don’t wait till it’s too late to say—and show—your love.

You won’t be sorry!

 

 


Nine Misconceptions About Love

We want love. We need love. More than one thousand song titles contain the word love. Books have been written about it. Poems recited. We chase it and sing about it and fall for imitations. And no matter what we do, we can’t get enough.

Maybe that’s because we don’t understand what love really is. And there’s no time when love is more misunderstood than Valentine’s Day. Here are nine misconceptions about love – I’m sure there are many more!

Yellow love

1. We think of love as something that happens to us, but it’s an intentional decision.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34 ESV).

2. We think romantic love must be young and sexy, but faithful love lingers long after our bodies begin to fail.

“So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:15 ESV).

3. We think a loving marriage is all about our happiness, but the Bible tells us it’s a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church.

“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV).

4. We think love is about saying nice things, but true love is seen as well as heard.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18 ESV).

5. We think “love means never having to say you’re sorry,” when true love means we’re the first to apologize.

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2 ESV).

6. We think the goal of love is to make us feel special, when the goal of love is to put the other person’s needs before ours.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (I John 3:16 ESV).

7. We think love is our idea, but the Bible tells us God loved us first.

“We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19 ESV).

8. We think we should only love those who love us, but we are to love even our enemies.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44 ESV).

9. And the biggest misconception about love?
We think love is just an emotion, but the Bible tells us it is a Person.

“God is love” (I John 4:8 ESV).

The greatest expression of love occurred when God gave the life of His Son so we could be restored to Him through the sacrifice of Christ. Receiving His love enables us to give it to others.

Love is to be treasured, whether we’re celebrating the love of family, a spouse, or a good friend. And the most costly manifestation of love was first extended by God to us. Let’s treat it as the precious gift it truly is.

What other misconceptions about love can you add?


A Month of Love!

February is thought of as the month of love, with Valentine’s Day taking center stage. But Cupid’s arrows have little to do with true love. You and I have the capacity for deep and abiding love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). Because we are the recipients of supernatural love, we can love others with a sacrificial love beyond our own natural abilities.

So, in honor of this true, sacrificial love known in the Greek as agape, here are some quotes for you to enjoy!

1.    “Forgive and give as if it were your last opportunity. Love like there’s no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love again.” ~ Max Lucado

2.     “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)

3.    “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” ~ C.S. Lewis, Answers to Questions on Christianity

4.    “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8

5.    “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. Love never fails.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV)

6.    “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” ~ Amy Carmichael

7.    “Chivalry in love has nothing to do with the sweetness of the appearance. It has everything to do with the tenderness of a heart determined to serve.” ~ Ravi Zacharias

8.    “Better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.” ~ Saint Augustine

9.     “The desire of love is to give. The desire of lust is to take.” ~ Author Unknown

10.      “You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman.” ~ Max Lucado

11.     “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)

12.      “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” ~ C. S. Lewis

13.      “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies: probably because they are generally the same people.” ~ G.K. Chesterton

14.      “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

15.    “To the loved, a word of affection is a morsel; but to the love-starved, a word of affection can be a feast.” ~ Max Lucado

16.     “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” ~ Warren Wiersbe

17.     “An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.” ~ John Wesley

18.     “Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.” ~ C. S. Lewis

19.     “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth.” (1 John 3:18)

20.     “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus. ” ~ Max Lucado

21.     “Without love, benevolence becomes egotism.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

22.    “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

23.     “Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love.” ~ Francis of Assisi

24.     “Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)

25.    “The things that we love tell us what we are.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

26.     “Love is a command, not just a feeling. Somehow, in the romantic world of music and theater we have made love to be what it is not. We have so mixed it with beauty and charm and sensuality and contact that we have robbed it of its higher call of cherishing and nurturing.” ~ Ravi Zacharias

27.     “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:14)

28.     “To love God is the greatest of virtues; to be loved by God is the greatest of blessings. ~ Author Unknown

29.    “Love leaves a legacy. How you treated other people, not your wealth or accomplishments, is the most enduring impact you can leave on earth.” ~ Rick Warren

30.    “Love is not a feeling but a determined act of will, which always results in determined acts of self-giving. Love is the willing, joyful desire to put the welfare of others above our own.” ~ John MacArthur