What does love ask of us?
Valentine’s Day is this week. The holiday was named for a Roman priest who married young couples against the wishes of the emperor, who preferred to send the men off to war unmarried and therefore less weary of dying. The priest, whose name was Valentine, was sentenced to a wretched death for his offense: for choosing to grant the sanctity of marriage to young people who loved one another.
What did love ask of them, of the couples and of Valentine himself? It sure wasn’t roses and a reservation at Bastion. It asked them to commit to something despite the explicit danger. It asked them to devote themselves to a person or a principle despite—or perhaps precisely because of—the total self-sacrifice required. That’s what marriage is. That’s what parenting is. That’s what faith is. That’s what service is.
There’s a saying that love is 10% emotion and 90% work. And yet everywhere we look—instagram, the cover of People, rom-coms—the image of love looks more like 10% emotion and 90%, well, image. Does love ask us to post a selfie and generate a bunch of likes? No. It asks us to be in the trenches, blissful or broken, apologizing and forgiving, challenging one another and withholding judgment, remaining. It asks us to punch our ego in the throat, as one member so astutely shared in our first week together. And then it asks us for more. It’s one thing to love your child more than yourself, but what about your neighbor, especially the one divided from you by background or political preference or religious practice?
Love is the ultimate paradox. It asks us to give everything we have so that we can have everything we need. In your experience, what has love asked of you? What is it asking now?
*Some of the content shared here is echoed in a column I wrote for this month’s NFocus found at https://www.nfocusnashville.com/people-places/point-view/article/20987945/localite-the-real-deal