I have so much to say about how life at Carolina is right now, but right now I have something more important on my mind. This past weekend, my family and I went to visit my grandparents before I started school. When I think of my grandparents’ house, I always think of how clean it is- my grandma is a stickler for having everything as tidy and clean as possible. Their house has always been a place of comfort and contentment; my grandparents have always lived modestly, and their appreciation for the simple life has always been something that I strive to have.
Over the past three years, my grandparents have had to go through things that would break just about anyone- but not them; and I fully believe that it’s because of their strong faith in God. My granddad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about a year ago, but he has shown strong symptoms of brain dementia for about three years now. After pastoring for 34 years at a church in which he started and built himself, he was forced to retire when he got to the point where he just couldn’t express what he wanted to say anymore. It was a sad day when we attended my granddad’s last sermon, but our family pulled together, and life went on.
There are so many lessons that I’ve learned from this situation that I would love to share, but that would take way too long. Here’s the point that I’m driving home today: maybe we need to redefine our idea of love. Yes- the fairy-tale, Nicholas Sparks novel, feel-good love that we all strive to be engaged in. After watching my grandparents, I have found such a deeper appreciation for true love- the type of love that reaches beyond outer appearance, common interests, or even compatibility… a type of love that only God can bless us with.
“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 13:4-8
It is times like these in which I question what we have turned “love” into these days. It’s the most magical, most inspirational, most amazing thing in this world, and sometimes it seems like just a game. I watch people break hearts without thinking twice, jump into relationships without hesitation, and give themselves away to people who have promised them nothing. In some ways, society has come so far; in others, it has completely fallen apart.
My grandma met my granddad when she was 10 years old. They’ve known each other practically all of their lives, and I’m sure that when they got married many years ago, my grandmother could have never predicted that 40 years from then, her exciting, responsible, loving husband would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She never could have predicted that after they spent their lives raising their children and working constantly to make ends meet, they wouldn’t even be able to enjoy their retirement because it would be filled with doctor’s appointments and would require her to be an around-the-clock caretaker for my granddad. When she exchanged vows with my granddad at the age of 18, my grandma didn’t know that at the young age of 62, her husband wouldn’t be able to remember his children and grandchildren, even though a few short years before, he could remember anyone’s name after hearing it once. No one ever told her that her husband would lose the capability to earn a living for the two of them, and that she would have to find a way to make money while still taking care of my granddad.
Nope, she couldn’t have predicted any of it- but you know what? Something inside of me tells me that it wouldn’t have mattered if they told her- she still would have married him. She still would have loved him the same way- and I can tell you why. It’s because a love like that- a love that only God can give us- it never fails. It always hopes, it always perseveres… it’s real love. It’s not the kind of love that’s dressed up with good-looking people and a strong physical attraction; it’s not the kind of love that is masked by people who are controlling of each other. It’s just love. It’s the promise that you’ll be with that person no matter what because you wouldn’t want it any other way- even when things get tough, even when things aren’t perfect, and even when you grow old and you can’t remember half of your life.
So maybe we need to redefine our expectation of love and raise the bar a little bit. I am probably the best example of someone who has mistaken love for something that it’s not; I’ve looked for love from people who simply didn’t have the capacity to love anyone or anything but themselves, and I’ve turned away from people who have put themselves out there, only to get my stand-offish response in return. But if there’s one thing that I am confident about, it’s that I’ve seen what true love is, and I know that’s what I want for myself. I want someone that I love so much that I would fight for them until the very end, and I want that person to feel that way about me. God has given us the gift of love for a reason, and frankly, it’s been put to shame. We were meant for so much more than this- don’t settle for anything less than true, committed, honest love- I mean, what could be better than that?
Have a great week!