Treasure, Week 6: Love

Just tuning in?  You've got some catching up to do!  Why don't you start with week one?

We made it!  We made it!  We made it!  It's Week 6 and it's Valentine's Day weekend!  I hope you've got a hot date with your lerve or at least a special activity set aside for the two of you.  Chris and I will be in two different places this weekend--he'll be at church and I'll be home with Lily (who has doctor confirmed flu--hide yo' kids, hide yo' wives, and hide yo' husbands cause our church is infecting errbody!)  Perhaps we'll get a chance to do something later in the week.  

This week is all about (drumroll please):  love. 

It seems like everywhere you turn, advertisers and stores are begging you to demonstrate your love by buying something red and heart shaped.  While I was in Philadelphia earlier this week, I stopped in the Godiva store.  The chocolate. . . the red. . . the romance. . .the music.  It's intoxicating.  

And then what happens on February 15th?  

It all becomes clearance items and quickly shoved aside for shamrocks and bunnies.  

How quickly we shove people aside. 
Our notions of love are fleeting. 

We are no longer training for endurance. 

A few months back I was in Barnes and Noble with Lily looking for a reading selection for my cousin's wedding.  My sister and I had been given the honor of reading during the ceremony.  My cousin had yet to find something that she liked and time was running out.  I pulled out stacks of old Irish love poems, sonnets by beautiful writers, and poignant messages of marriage.  I poured over the pages in the children's section while Lily played with the train set.  

Nothing felt right.  It all felt too forced, too artificial, too cliche.  

I got up from the tiny picnic table and wandered around the children's section.  I saw poetry by Shel Silverstein and flipped through.  I found classic tales and looked for words that might fit.  

And then, it found me.  

An edition of The Velveteen Rabbit.

Before I made it back to the table I already knew I had found what I was looking for.  As I read the pages of the story I started sobbing right in the middle of the store.  

This was the message of love we all needed to hear. 

I selected the following passage to share at the wedding (you can view the entire reading here):

What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day.  "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."
Our entire lives we look for those people who can make us feel alive.  We want to be real.  We want to feel needed.  Our society has romanticized this down to buying chocolates and red items, when all we need is love (love is all we need--sorry, couldn't resist).  
If you've been married or have been with your significant other for a while, you know that life is rough.  Life is hard, and there are times when you feel like your hair has been rubbed off and your eyes have fallen out.  Your spouse knows that you aren't always as beautiful or as handsome as you were when you were fresh in the relationship and that commitment often includes morning breath, hurtful moments, and doubts. 
But, when you really love someone, you love them regardless.  You walk beside them during the good and bad times, and in turn, you help each other become real.  
The Bible instructs us to love one another as Christ loves us.  1 Corinthians 13 makes it very clear how we are to love one another.  
1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 
2If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 
3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

   Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.

 8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
 11When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
 12We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
 13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
I hope you will spend some time this week looking at your spouse through the eyes of love.  

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