"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." -
"Love is the fulfillment of the law." -
"When you are in love you can't fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams." - Dr. Seuss
One of the ways that I learned what love is came to me over a two year period that started about 15 years ago.
I met a beautiful girl with flowing red hair and a dynamite smile that literally sparkled and lit up the room. And it was in a very energetic room full of 100's of very loving people when I did meet her, and even in this impressive collection of human beings, her lively and loving spirit stood out. She was captivating.
I was just one of the 100's of people in the room to her, as far as I knew. But that was only as far as I knew.
Little did I know that something special was happening to me. I didn't know, because what was happening to me was happening inside of her. Stirring inside of her, without me knowing, was a pooling of all of her strength and resolve, all of her kindness, and all of her capacity to give sacrificially. All the ingredients of this powerful force for good was collecting in her heart and being directed at me, deciding to give the greatest gift that she could give, and that I could ever receive...her love…hoping, but with no strings attached.
I don't know why it happened, but she did something that to this same beautiful girl continues to do to this day.
She chose me.
Wherever that comes from, that capacity in her to choose me, to lay down her life for me, I will always, always, always be grateful to God.
Over the next two years she continued to choose me when I would give her no guarantee of my choosing her. She committed to love me faithfully without demanding that I know whether I would "end up" making the same commitment to loving her. When I finally did, I realized that she had been my greatest lesson ever on what loving like Christ loves looks like in the flesh.
With my love and capacity to choose now awakened, through her patience and consistence, thirteen years ago today, she legally committed to me in the covenant of marriage. She submitted to all the laws of the land and signed all the legal documents that contractually bind her to me. Lawfully, she is my partner in this thing called marriage. To some, the idea of this legal binding looks and sounds quite intimidating.
But not to her.
Her love was already so much larger, so much more committal, more risky...it was already so altogether superior in cost and risk compared to what was being demanded by the law in marriage...that she hardly noticed it. Her love continues to this day to be the fulfillment of the law...and so much more. Laws are just plain painful if they are not fulfilled in and by love.
This beautiful girl, Carrie, chooses me and the costly, dangerous, invested, non-routine sort of life that I seem to need to live every day, in so many ways, large and small (and the small ways are really the largest). She dreams big, loves large, gives fearlessly, creates purposefully and makes so many of my ideas take actual, practical shape in reality. She’s my inspiration.
Sort of because I'm a freak, I do these visualization things, where "I imagine suffering the greatest losses that I can imagine". (NOTE: I live in a life where pain, loss, change, & tragedy are commonplace...and I (sometimes) watch people who react to it (understandably) quite poorly. Who am I to think that I am exempt from such loss? In life, that potential is always there. I’d rather be prepared for it emotionally, even over and above financially. I guess I visualize it because if any of it ever happens, I don't want it to be the first time I've considered having to deal with it.)
Whenever I'm moved to visualize the sudden loss of my beautiful Carrie, at the part when I turn to who it is I look to for comfort, understanding, compassion, support, help, challenge, inspiration, service, listening, and a "I-will-die-here-with-you-in-your-pain" kind of love...she's not there, because that person is Carrie.
It's usually at night when I engage in this spiritual work...and I always end it compelled to either 1) open my eyes and look at Carrie sleeping or 2) reach over and gently touch her cheek in the darkness, or both…grateful for the grace of God. See, while I believe in His love enough to know that I would survive, and that even through the great difficulty of her loss could even thrive, in her absence, I’m grateful to God that for yet another day He has decided to show me, once again, what love looks like through her presence.
To have a real live woman who believes in you, who sees more deeply into your heart than you do sometimes, and can see only the good, not because that is all there is, but because she chooses to…is a dream. And it is a dream that makes you become what she sees.
My life when I am awake is better than any dream I’ve ever had when asleep.
Thank you, Carrie. I love you. Happy Thirteenth Anniversary.