8.22.2009

Romance ... never fails?

She turned to look up at him. He smiled as he leaned over her and their eyes met. He moved her bracelet out of the way and their hands clasped, her smaller one enveloped in his. He moved in closer, and stroked her hair gently. I felt like an intruder upon this moment of tender love. They didn’t seem to mind; romance and oblivion seem to come hand-in-hand sometimes.

Romance.

The longing for romance can overshadow so many other desires. Motivation for work, ambition for success, drive for approval—these feelings are strong at certain times. But the thought of love and intimacy can make them pale. No, I’m not talking about love-sick teenagers or sappy girls. I’m talking about the natural, God-given desire for love. It is marriage—not a business agreement—that God uses to characterize the indescribable relationship of Christ and His Church.

The holy institution of marriage … the God-given physical and emotional desires … the reality of these sometimes blur with a counterfeit. Even when I think my perspective of romance is honest and healthy, does it actually line up with the true romance that God created?

Are my expectations of love pure, before God? The magazine rack’s representation of “love” is appalling. Their headlines are warped, their pictures are unmentionable. But has any trace of the world’s definition crept into my perspective?

Maybe my question reveals part of the answer—“expectations of love.” Can I hold on to expectations about the love I desire to receive and experience? 1 Corinthians 13 doesn’t mention what I should expect out of love, only what I should choose to give, in love.

What picture comes to mind from the scene at the beginning? Be honest. I know what I would imagine—young lovers’ interaction, including the music in the background! So why was it, in real life, that I sat off to the side watching this scene…and instead of happily watching a thrill of romance, tears filled my eyes?

I was realizing that my perspective might not line up with God’s.

I was seeing a limp, pale hand lost in a large, gnarled hand. The bracelet that he moved was a plastic one, stamped with her name. He could only move so close to her, as she sat in the hospital chair. His hand ran over her white hair, over and over. “Jack, just get me out of here,” she begged. “No,” he whispered, kissing her forehead, “I just can’t right now.”

This couple lives on a farm a couple miles from me, almost my closest neighbors. I regularly meet Jack on the road in his work pickup or in a tractor. Eighty-seven years old, he sat in the hospital beside Jo, wearing his suspenders, jeans and boots. He touched her shoulder gently and adjusted the flimsy hospital gown. “Is your arm hurting you?” he asked. I caught a glimpse of the immobilized arm in a sling, and winced at the black bruising that splashed across her upper arm and elbow. It was obvious that yesterday’s fourteen hours by his wife’s side was more difficult than any day of work on the farm, ever.

Seven years ago, Jack suspected something wasn’t right, and took Jo for several tests. Ever since Alzheimer’s was diagnosed, he has cared for her at home. He wears a hearing aid in one ear, and hers is on the opposite site; their living room recliner couch is set up so they could sit with their “good ears” facing each other, to hear each other talk.

He interrupted her disoriented cries with soothing talk, as he stroked her cheek softly. I was close to tears at seeing this tough man so brokenhearted over his wife, yet persevering day after day. I didn’t know how to reconcile this commitment and sacrifice—poured out, with no hope of reciprocal emotions and fulfillment from his wife—with the standard expectation of relationships that’s set today.

Are my dreams about romance seated in reality? Are my expectations of a relationship established in selflessness? Am I committed to giving, or do I require return? Would my sub-conscious definition of romance withstand the challenges, or simply accept the ideal?

Love never fails.

5 comments:

Melinda said...

Very sweet and sad story. Thanks for the wonderful reminder, you put it really, really well.

Melinda

Katie said...

I found this article through Kaylene's blog. This is wonderful. I am so glad she linked it to her site! I am almost finished with nursing school, and I have seen this same thing so many times in the hospital where I work. My favorite story is a couple just like the one you described... The man lovingly sat by the side of his wife, whose body was totally wasted from her disease. She was literally only a skeleton, weighing only about 80 pounds. But he loved her so tenderly, and when she was sleeping came to the nurses station to show us black and white pictures of how beautiful she was when they married, and tell of how much he loved her. I still love to think of that beautiful couple.

Nathan Straub said...

Wow... their love is none the less noble than that of younger people. The story went through me like an icy breeze.

Feilynn Ball said...

I was almost in tears at the thought of that old man going through such tough times.
It makes me think.That isn't exactly how I had thought of love,but it's the way we should think of it.I heard about it through Kaylene's blog

Feilynn

Faith said...

This beautiful picture is a good reminder to us of why we need to wait for God's choice for a spouse for us. He is the only One Who knows which love will stand the test of time. We don't have the capacity to see what He sees, when we take the decision into our own hands.
How could we beat His choice?

Faith