A little over a year ago, my Aunt Lynn remarried after losing her sweet husband, my Uncle Gordon, to ALS. Along with this new husband, she gained a new daughter, Lauren, one I heard about often — the writer who raised over $150,000 for the flood victims of Central Texas through her blog and wrote a 5-star children’s book, Where Did My Sweet Grandma Go, which “gently leads little ones and their parents into meaningful conversations about death, grief, and eternal love.” So, ya, she’s kind of a big deal and I’m kind of related to her. I’m sincerely grateful to Lauren for finishing off this month’s series on marriage with an honest, vulnerable piece on perseverance and hope. It’s the perfect way to end the month.
Lastly, thank you to everyone that participated in this prayer series. I have been convicted, blessed, and challenged by the process of writing out the prayers and reading them each morning, so thank you for keeping me accountable throughout this last month. It has been an honor.
“It [love] … always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV)
We have our first kiss. We fall in love. We say our vows.
And then, we find out that all that “in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part” stuff is for real.
We fight depression and “man” colds, job losses and panic attacks, miscarriage and grief, sinus infections and the stomach flu. Together. We battle insurance claims, broken pipes, family caregiving, moving and child rearing. Together.
Even when both of us are feeling selfish. Even when both of us are feeling exhausted. Even when both of us want to throw in the towel, lift up our hands and cry out to God in agony, “We surrender.”
This month marks 9 years of marriage to my husband. My mother-in-law once told me that he and I never really got those carefree, first few years of marriage. (Is that actually a thing people experience?)
We faced my mother’s early onset Alzheimer’s disease, our own pregnancy loss and two child births, my stepmom’s terminal cancer and then my grandfather’s neck fracture and subsequent dementia back to back, without ever having a break to just enjoy one another. But we made it through.
And we’re still making it through, one day, one parenting challenge and one caregiving crisis at a time.
These poignant words about love and sacrifice are often attributed to Mother Teresa, because they were displayed on the wall of her children’s home in Calcutta, but they were actually written by author Kent M. Keith in 1968:
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered,
LOVE THEM ANYWAY
If you do good, people will accuse you of
selfish, ulterior motives,
DO GOOD ANYWAY
If you are successful,
you win false friends and true enemies,
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow,
DO GOOD ANYWAY
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable,
BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY
What you spent years building may be
People really need help
but may attack you if you help them,
HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY
Give the world the best you have
And you’ll get kicked in the teeth,
GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY.
“Love them anyway” is slowly but surely becoming my mantra in marriage and in life.
Love doesn’t take breaks or wait for things to get better. Love endures.
Love sees the big picture, because it is the big picture. Love didn’t come from Earth, it came from Heaven, so it never ends, even in death.
God’s love endures far beyond marriage. Our church pastor recently brought it to my attention that when we get to Heaven, we won’t actually be husbands and wives consecrated to one another in marriage anymore. Instead, we will simply be saints consecrated to God.
Nonetheless, our faithfulness to one another in marriage here on Earth is a reflection of His never-ending faithfulness to us throughout Eternity.
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NIV)
Our love does not come from within ourselves, but from God.
We persevere, because His love perseveres. We endure, because He endures. We hope, because He is our hope.
Lauren Flake lives near Austin, Texas, with her husband, their two young daughters and two rowdy Labs. She loves green tea, dark chocolate and cowboy boots and raising funds and awareness for #TexasStrong causes. You can find out more about her book, Where Did My Sweet Grandma Go, and her blog, Love of Dixie, at LaurenFlake.com.