I love you.
I grew up ending most communications with an I love you. It was never route. Always intentional. Mom taught me that when you care about someone you should tell them. So, every phone conversation with my travelling dad ended in those three little words. Mom said we should never miss an opportunity. To this day, I end calls and text conversations with those I care about in exactly the same way. I love you.
When we first began dating, the professor always shook his head in wonderment as I called home to check in and then closed the conversation with a quick, "I'll be home on time, I promise. I love you!" After a few months of looking at me like I was an alien, I asked him what was so weird about those words I uttered. "Nothing," he said, "I just don't get why you tell each other." I was incredibly puzzled and then broached a question that would teach me much about the man I would someday marry..."Don't you tell your family that you love them?" His response astounded me. "No, we rarely express how we feel about each other. You're just supposed to know." I was floored. Eventually, my man learned that stating feelings of affection was as natural to me as breathing. He stopped gazing at me as if I was a weirdo and began to grin when I said it. Eventually, we started saying it to each other.
We've chosen not to stop.
We're no longer youths in love. We have walked the hard, the dark, the scary. We've done it side-by-side. My friend turned boyfriend turned fiance turned husband is, almost two decades later, still my best friend.
We keep choosing to do life together.
It's not easy. Anything worth having and loving rarely is. Our marriage hasn't been without angry outbursts or clicks of the receiver. We've spent months apart as we've started new jobs and finished out chapters of our lives. It hasn't always been ideal. But we've always maintained our friendship. Above everything else, my husband is my friend and I am his. When it is dark and lonely and uncertain, we've got each other. We don't always like, but we always love.
We love because He first loved us.
A statement which holds such power and fills me with awe. We love because He loved us. First. Always. Forever. No matter what.
It can also be BEAUTIFUL.
In accepting my man's imperfections, I can love him as he is. He does the same for me. In choosing to do this life together, we show the chicks that love is ...
A bit like grace, it is undeserved and then heaped upon us at the most unlikely of moments. Love which comes from a God who loved us so much He chose to die for us, for all of the mess that makes us ugly.
Our ugly was beautiful to Him. He chose to love us. He chose to make our messy a glorious canvas on which He might be reflected.
We love because He first loved us...
He died because He loved us.
Love is powerful. Not to be taken lightly. It's also to be given with open and outstretched arms.
Eighteen years ago we shared those three little words with each other.
I love you.
Today, I love him more than I did when I was looking though the rose colored lenses of our youth. I love him because as a wife and mother, I better understand what this word love means. From dying to self and putting his interests in front of my own, to accepting his help when "I want to do it all myself" as he often jokingly chides me, my affection for this man I do life with grows daily.
TodayI'm thankful for...
...being loved first.
... my God who loved me enough to give His life for me.
...a mom who taught me that expressing love isn't something you should do lightly or withhold.
...my husband who loves me, wholly, not because of who I am, but in spite of who I am.
And...I'm grateful that after all of these years, I still get to kiss him any time I choose.