This Quieter Love

Hydrangeas“Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go… But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from “being in love” — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriage) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God… “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”C.S. Lewis from “Mere Christianity”

This quote from C.S. Lewis is one of my favorites for all the profound wisdom contained in a few short sentences. C. S. Lewis’ writing is like that–the farther in you go, the deeper it gets–layer after layer.

Before I married, like most young ladies, I had a head full of “romantic mush” where men and marriage were concerned. Most aspects of the actual marriage experience were nothing like I imagined or had read about. Good thing. . . it was far better.

I was fortunate to have had examples of good marriages in my formative years. My parents and both sets of grandparents had strong, loving marriages of long duration. My father’s love and respect for my mother was always evident (as was hers for him). He spoke with great regard of her intellect, courage, faith, and character. My mother and father modeled for me, every day of their married lives, the concept of sacrificial love. Even after almost thirty-five years of marriage, it was clear to everyone who knew them just how much they loved and respected each other. His care for her, and her concern for his well-being during the final months of her life, remain a vivid memory of the expression and power of that love.

The way they lived out their marriage is one of the most precious gifts my parents ever gave to me. Their fidelity to one another through the years God gave them together, is a heritage that should not be forgotten or taken lightly. It is a heritage that I am passionate about passing down to my daughter.

Any successful marriage is a miracle in and of itself. In a world where more and more people choose to cohabit, marriage has become somewhat of an outdated concept. For those who do choose to marry, the success rate is often rather disappointing. It is not uncommon, when people find out how long I was married, to look at me as if I was some kind of “freak of nature,” and then to ask me how I could ever stay married to the same man for so long without getting bored or tired of him.

I wish that I could say I always come back with exceptionally brilliant answers to that question, but I don’t. The simple truth is, it is not because I was a particularly exemplary wife or because I am extraordinarily beautiful, or witty, or intelligent, or unselfish, or even talented. God blessed me by choosing a man who He knew would be best for me. When I went with His choice, the rest was much easier. The remainder is a result of the grace of God and our deliberate choice to keep the covenant of our marriage vows, no matter what challenges we faced. God blessed that committment with a deep, quiet, and enduring love.

After twelve years of marriage, God blessed us with a child. Many friends and family were quite generous with their advice about what experiences lay ahead of us as parents. They were quick to tell us our views of parenting would never work and we would “find out how it really is when you have one of your own.” They were wrong. I can honestly say there was only one aspect of motherhood which surprised me. I was not expecting the intensity and power of the love which swept over me as I held that little red-headed bundle. I finally understood what people were talking about when they spoke about the ferocious love of a mother.

I will always be a mother, but my years as an active parent have come to an end. My daughter has grown into a fine young woman who is wise and capable beyond her twenty-three years. No mother could be more pleased with the fruit that is evident in her life as a result of the character that God has been developing in her.

Every mother has hopes and desires for her children and I am no different. Hannah is now making decisions that will affect the rest of her life. From my perspective, she is well able to make them. She has a heart for the things of God and is committed to walking in His ways and into His call. My hopes and desires for her are quite simple: that she continues to grow in her walk with the Lord, that her life be filled with love and laughter, and that God gives to her a young man who is worthy to share that life. I pray that he will be a young man who will complement her strengths with those of his own; that he will love the Lord and serve Him with all his heart; that he will be spiritually mature, possess integrity, a godly character, and share her heart for the Kingdom; that he will love her, honor her, cherish her, and laugh with her; that he will find endless delight in the many facets of all God has created her to be; and that he will be faithful to honor their marriage covenant for all the years of their life together.

It has occurred to me that what I really want for my daughter is what God so graciously gave to me: a man just like her father.

I would not want her to settle for anything less.

‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one fleshso then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”  Mark 10:7-9 (NKJV)

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E. Johnson
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