Our house is peppered with little reminders to love. It seems so simple, like such a given, like it should be easy to love. There’s the husband I made a vow to love forever, but it still doesn’t always mean marriage is easy. There are the two precious daughters we prayed for, fought for, and waited forever for, and it’s still not always easy. Love is alive in our home, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not a feeling it’s a choice. And there are days when choice needs a push, it needs a boost to choose someone else over self.
Over our bed is a framed black and white quote that says, “Love builds a happy home”. It’s not things, it’s not grand experiences, or Christmas mornings to remember. It’s not cute throw pillows or the perfect casserole served warm right before the hangry kicks in. It’s love.
On my bathroom counter is a small, flat, oval rock the girls painted and there’s a sticker on it that says “love”. It’s right there where I go first in the mornings before I even have my contacts in, before I even have my brain activated to speak, be nice, or look people in the eye. But love says to be patient, not just when you’re up, dressed, fed, and caffeinated, but to live out the patience and kindness and choosing of another in action, not in how we feel. That little rock mocks me just a little bit when it’s early and the word love is blurred because I can’t see yet and the urgent demands for breakfast are upon me.
There’s a little blue heart sticker on the tile next to the bathtub. I don’t even know how it got there. Stickers (aka: kid currency) are everywhere and manage to appear and reappear all over our house. I see this little blue heart sticker right there on the tile next to the faucet every time I’m filling up that giant yellow plastic Dickey’s BBQ cup that I use to rinse their hair. That little blue heart whispers to me to be slow to anger when a tidal wave splashes violently over the side and onto the floor, and onto my jeans, and when the screams are obnoxiously loud and it’s past their bedtime and I’m exhausted. It’s then that I’m reminded that once again, love is a lot of things (it’s not holding onto wrongs, it’s being gentle, kind, thinks of others, etc.). It’s an active choice. So right there, bent over the bathtub rinsing their hair for the 5000th time, and getting splashed, at the end of a long day, I choose love.
There’s the $5 gold ring on my right hand with a red heart on it that I see sometimes and remember whose hand I get to hold here on earth. He’s the man who’s stood by me come what may, he’s the one who loves me no matter what and has cried with me and laughed with me in the dark and in the morning light. I want to show our girls what that kind of love is like and hope they know they’re so deeply loved and wanted in this home, even on the cranky days when we’re all a little too human and we forget to look for the heart reminders on the wall.
There’s the spontaneous heart shaped mac n’ cheese I spot on Noella’s thumb and snap a pic. There’s love in feeding bellies, souls, and hearts by serving our families and offering a kind word or a smile. We have the power to make love grow, even if it’s a bowl of from-the-box mac n’ cheese and half an apple for dinner.
Oddly enough, even when our house is peppered with hearts and reminders like these, choosing love is the hardest thing I do every day. It doesn’t come naturally no matter how much I actually do love someone. There’s a resistance in my veins and it’s called self. It’s called a sin nature. It’s called selfishness. We all have it. And with it comes a deep need for Jesus. We can’t last long in our own efforts no matter how great our spouse is, how cute the kids are, or how many heart stickers there are to remind us to love. We need a love greater than what we can muster up to get us through the day. Let’s love so big that it demonstrates to others what’s been done for us. <3