I want to unpack this Advent theme more in the coming days, but for today, it seems only fitting that the first day of love happens to fall on my love’s birthday. For the past 21 December 9th’s, my hubby has endured whatever celebration I have concocted, many of which are anything but what he actually wanted to do. My favorite birthday story was our first year of marriage when I surprised him by filling our tiny apartment for a party. This brilliantly coincided with the Aggie’s playing in the Big 12 title game. I thought this would be a win. It was, however, his worst nightmare as he was forced to give up his lounging couch for my friends to have a place to sit. He watched the entire game from his desk chair. And I have never been allowed to forget it.
Over the past many years, we have learned that love is rarely the Hallmark moments and picture perfect stories of romance. It is not even the happy ending tales of precious parenting and easy life. Love, real love, is the hardest of the hard. Its boundary setting and saying “no” and tears. It’s the times when you stand helpless by your partner’s side as they are in pain. It’s the moments when you have to speak an unwelcome word. Love is standing with, and advocating for, in the times of illness. Love is choosing each other daily.
If we are really honest, these are all self-sacrificing moments. That’s the heart of love. And in our come and go, quick to leave, I don’t want to do the hard things society, love is hard to find. The number of relationships – and I don’t just mean romantic ones – that are broken and derailed are many. Our world is filled with examples of people who are frantically searching for the feeling of love and are unwilling to choose the work of love.
I’d like to tell you that 20 years of marriage has been filled with all smooshy loves. That is not the case. I would go so far as to say that we have had 14 great years. And the other 6 have been filled with the hard work of building the blocks of hope and love and joy and peace that are evident when we are operating in our best selves. We are one hell of a team, but we have grown up together and that is not easy work. In doing that, we have chosen each other again and again and again.
So, to the hottest 42-year-old that I know; To the man who I trust with my past and my future; To the one who loves me – crazy, messy, glitter and all, Happy Birthday. You make me want to work at love everyday and the world is better because of it.