It is another accomplishment to survive January.
Someday, perhaps I will live somewhere where January is not a brutal month. Right now, I'm living as far south as I've ever lived, and January is still mostly brutal. It started brutal, and it ended brutal. However, by the grace of God, when we traveled to South Dakota for a wedding on 1/23, there was an uncharacteristic warm spell which we enjoyed very much.
Warm, of course, is a relative term. Someone from Florida or Arizona might not recognize what we call, "a beautiful January day in South Dakota," as warm. However, it felt warm to us, and the sun shone, so it was good.
Our last day in January was lionlike: ferociously chilly and frighteningly slippery with fuzzy visibility.
Today, February 2, is crystal clear and cold. I appreciate the sunshine.
Do you notice how, no matter how cold it is, it always feels good to stand in a sunbeam that's splashing though your window?
So yes, we made it to February and now we will embark on contemplations of love.
A general reaction to that word might be:
A feeling of inner warmth,
sunshine and a rainbow array of brilliant flower blossoms.
Hugs and kisses,
cartwheels and dancing,
strawberries and chocolate.
But that isn't what love is at all.
The world sells us its own definition of love, and from one perspective the world's love looks extremely appealing, desirable, fantastic. If it didn't, nobody would buy it.
But when you take apart the world's version of love, at its core it is about self-fulfillment.
The world says:
- Love means that you make me happy, and I love you because you do.
- I show my love to you by accepting your love and by doing things for you that make me feel happy.
- Love is all about me being happy!
A Christian view of love says:
- I love you; I love to do good things for you and see you flourish.
- I am glad when something good happens to you, even (or possibly especially) if it comes at a cost to me.
- Love is when I can forget about myself and find my joy in your joy.
We are blind to the fact that in so doing, we miss it all.
We read of the selfless lover, and it even sounds kind of good,
except we are unable to imagine ourselves as the selfless lover,
only as the beloved receiver of the selfless lover's love.
We want sacrificial love; sure we do,
but we want to be the one receiving the sacrificial love,
not the one giving the sacrificial love.
Giving sacrificial love sounds decidedly disagreeable,
but therein lies the paradox.
For it is only when we learn to give love sacrificially
that we experience the true depth of the joy of love.