Today is a difficult day for me. March 8 always is. It’s the day my mother – at a mere 40 years and 3 days old – was called Home. And today, it’s been thirty years. I’m now older than my mother ever was, and that’s something that’s hit me hard this year.
When we talk about romance, we tend to talk about the chocolates, the flowers, the candlelit dinners, or moonlit walks.
But romance is much more than that.
Romance is living the vows – we do pretty good with the “in health” part, but what about the “in sickness”? Or poorer? The bad times?
Have you ever seen the Disney-Pixar movie Up? The first few minutes introduce us to two children, then there’s a montage of their life together. If you walked in a few minutes late, about the time Mr. Fredricksen and Russell meet, all you know is that he’s a crusty, grumpy old man who ends up with an amazing transformation into a kind grandfather by the end. But in that montage, you see a love story that far surpasses what we find in many “romance” movies. We see a man who would do anything to make his wife smile, who longed to give her the adventures they’d dreamed of. A man loved and romanced his wife, no matter the difficulties life threw at them. That grumpy old man was a man still mourning the loss of the love of his life. And the grandfather? That’s who he’d always been – he just needed to find his ‘grandson.”
More recently, many of us have seen pictures of Joey Feek – and Rory tenderly caring for her in her last days. (This Life I Live blog)
In an article about Joey Feek’s death, there’s a quote from her saying that if just one person was brought to Christ because of her journey, it was all worth it.
That one person was her father.
Can you imagine her father, watching her husband love her so gently, and realizing they had peace that passes understanding and seeing Jesus in both of them?
Then there’s Former First Lady Nancy Reagan. One of the most touching things I’ve ever seen is the picture of her with her hand on President Reagan’s flag draped coffin as she gently kisses it. And kissing the polished wood later, after she’d been handed the flag but before internment. By all reports, she spent more than a decade loving a man who didn’t remember her. (And by all accounts I’ve seen, their love story was one for the ages.)
Most of us won’t have the “in sickness” part of our romances play out quite so publicly, but what about to those we know?
In a fashion similar to Mrs. Reagan, my step-grandfather-in-law (my husband’s stepdad’s father) took such gentle care of his wife when she didn’t remember who he was – or who she was. They would come to our house for Easter, and, the last couple years, she was almost like a little child. But Grandpa Forrest was always patient and kind with her. He was by her side, literally, right until the very end.
I was only ten when my mother died and don’t remember nearly as much as I wish, but I remember my father taking care of her.
In my own life, my husband has often taken on more than his fair share – when pregnancies took their toll or my when lower back acts up (which is more often than I’d like thanks to those pregnancies) or six to eight weeks of a cough that makes me feel like I might pass out from lack of oxygen.
In those days, what says love more than a man who will change a diaper because pregnancy has affected your sense of smell and you might lose the little dinner you managed to keep down?
Or doing bath time with two little girls because otherwise his wife will be in tears from the pain?
Or cleaning up after children are sick because, pregnant or not, it’s a smell she can’t stand?
Or knowing that she won’t want a fortieth birthday party because with that comes the knowledge she’s lived longer than her mother?
Though those things don’t play into our typical thoughts of romance, oh they are!
The Bible calls the church the bride of Christ.
And Christ is the ultimate bridegroom, laying down His very life for the church, His bride.
Most of us won’t have to make that ultimate sacrifice, but the little things day in and day out…
That’s being “Jesus with skin on” to those around us. To show them the love the Father has for every human being.
We think of romance as chocolate and flowers, but it’s finding a person who will be there during the nitty gritty, everyday, beautiful mess of life.
When you Google the word “romance,” it pops up with assorted definitions and synonyms. One of the synonyms is “devotion.”
Devotion is “love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.”
That definition of romance is shown day in and day out by people like Rory Feek. By Nancy Reagan. By my father and my step-father-in-law. By my own husband.
And we celebrate the ultimate bridegroom later this month as we commemorate the crucifixion – but more importantly, the resurrection.
That, my friends, is romance.
What about you? Has there been someone in your life – a spouse or someone else – who has been “Jesus with skin on” for you? Has your spouse shown that kind of devotion? Or has someone else you know?
Answer in the comments for your chance to win an ebook* of your choice from my currently published books.
As for me, we’ll celebrate my mother’s Heavenly birthday by making cookies, because she made the world’s best. (And my brand new KitchenAid mixer should be here in time to do it :).
*Of course, the book of mine that most clearly shows this “Jesus with skin on” sacrificial “in sickness” kind of love? Yeah – it’s not out yet ;). Someday… :D