Recently, I took a class to receive a permit to carry a gun. Since turning 21 (a year and a half ago), my boyfriend and I have loved to go shooting together. Receiving our permits was just another check off the “New Year’s Resolution list.” I expected to leave the class a proud American; instead, I found myself enamored with a new word – love.
Growing up, I imagined love to be frivolous and fun. Love was powerful and something that could turn me into a Disney princess, right? I thought it was a trail of flowers with chocolate waiting at the end. Little did I know I would see the truth at a gun class.
When we participated in this class, we chose the back row with plastic chairs. As we waited for class to begin, an elderly couple came and took seats in front of us. I was surprised to see that it was a little woman and a rickety old man.
My first thought was, “You’ve got to be kidding me. How can he walk, let alone hold a gun?”
A few short minutes later, they introduced themselves. The elderly gentleman turned out to be a veteran who was in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease. He wanted to be able to protect both himself and his bride of 50 years. She was also there to learn how to protect the both of them if the situation arose.
Every move this gentleman made, every word he spoke, and every attempt to sit down was aided by his 70-year young bride.
We watched in amazement as she handled moving a man twice her size, how she graciously gave up her visiting time to tend to him, and how she vividly poured out her feelings to her husband in pain.
Through it, they painted a picture: Love conquers all.
After the class, I approached the woman and remarked about how impressive she was. She politely responded, “Some days are hard. But I would do anything for him. When we said ‘in sickness and in health’ Fifty years ago, I meant it. We decided we were made for each other. After ‘I do’ there was no turning back.”
I was dumbfounded. These people had faced a variety of struggles; yet, they never gave up on the other. Why? Because they were in love. Not a loose love, but a strong love bound by the truth of their vows and the promise they made when they were children.
These people standing in front of me understood what love actually was. Instead of focusing on what had changed or faded away, they were concerned about what was coming next.
A few months back, I was convicted of what I “loved.” I found my list ranged from Jesus to ice cream, my boyfriend to Disney movies, and my family to pizza. Reality proves that I love or like each of these things in a different way from the others. Some of these, I can live without. Others, I would be hopelessly lost. The difference between these levels of love is the level of desire.
How much we love something is determined by how much we want it. As our desire for something slowly dissolves, so does our sense of love for that object.
If I loved ice cream the way I love my family, I’d be overweight.
If I loved my boyfriend the way I wanted pizza, I’d be alone.
If I loved Jesus like I love a Disney movie, I’d be headed to hell.
The world has lost the meaning of one of the truest and purest words of them all. Our self-centered culture leads us to believe that love is something that is only useful when we need it. But love is meant to change the world, bring forth life, and challenge the closest of spouses. Love isn’t throwing in the towel because you see something better down the road. It’s a transformative experience that awakens our souls.
When chaos abounds, we are called to stay humble and patient. As we remain patient and gentle in our situations, we can focus on helping others and truly loving amidst their troubles. Being humble, patient, and prepared to adequately love others makes a difference.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
Loving others, or even yourself, is hard to do when you are faced with difficult obstacles. But the truth of the matter is we are given the opportunity to graciously love those who are around us. By looking past the problems of today, we can see a future burning bright for the glory of the Lord. In order for that to happen, we must go back to our childhood and remind ourselves, just as my married friends demonstrated, we cannot give up on love.