"When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower." ~Alexander Den Heijer
Today there is no escaping a'more. As we begin this day, no matter where we go we'll be faced with cards proclaiming love, flowers scenting the air and hearts full of candy. All these things are truly lovely, but they are in truth just things, trinkets. None of which can actually cause true love to grow or bloom. Valentine's Day, with all it's romantic glory is just like any other day. Nothing about today can make us love each other any more or less. The growth or the withering of our relationships isn't dependent upon the antics of one single day of the year. Nope the environment we cultivate our relationships in on a daily basis does. The growth of our connections are dependent upon our deliberate actions the rest of the 364 days of the year. How does love grow? How do we keep relationships alive in an environment overrun by technology, an unstable economy, sexual tensions and unrealistic demands society lays at our doorsteps every day? How do couples stay together in a world of broken promises and jaded emotions? Well I guess for starters, you have to cultivate an environment where imperfection is not a four letter word.
Life Lesson #122~ When Love grows... we grow, is both complicated and simple. I can tell you from experience, my marriage had to go through the pruning process, undergoing pain like I can't begin to explain before it could fully grow into the beautiful, imperfect flower it has become.We had to stop trying to change one another. Instead we began working to change our environment, together. We were trying way to hard, over watering, under watering, cutting down and pulling up anything we saw as imperfection or unattractive. See, this is the thing, "Love isn't perfect. It isn't a fairy tale or a storybook and it doesn't always come easy, Love is overcoming obstacles,facing challenges, fighting to be together, holding on and never letting go. It is a short word, easy to spell, difficult to define and impossible to live without. Love is work, but most of all, love is realizing that every hour, every minute, every second was worth it because you did it together." ~ unknown.
The truth is as our love personally has matured, thriving and flourishing. Johnny and I have found a real refuge in each other. Paraphrasing F. Scott Fitzgerald our marriage has "skipped briskly into an intimacy from which we'll never recover." See when love grows it becomes strong, bending and adapting with the elements, basking in the glory of His Son. As love is pruned and cultivated in soil rich in unconditional love forgiveness begins to provide that same love with a truly healthy environment allowing it to breathe, for it's roots to become deeply rooted and built on choices that say ,"I love you" not "I love me." This is how true love can actually become happily ever after. Christine Caine says it so well, "God prunes us when He is about to take us into a new season of growth and expansion." And this is exactly how God has brought our marriage into a brand new season, full of growth and awareness. Perfection honestly has no place in marriage, we are all human, full of faults and flaws and hangups. But we are also works in progress, flowers missing a pedal or two but still fully blooming in the light of God's grace and mercy. Ephesians 4:2 is clear, telling us," Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love." I know if not for God's love, for His continual grace in my marriage we'd have been choked out by the weeds of doubt long ago. The past is the past, we have today and if we're blessed we have tomorrow together. Nothing in life comes easy, love least of all. However I do believe with all my heart something 'I'm just a girl' proclaims beautifully. "I feel like everything in my life has led me to you. My choices, my regrets. Everything. And when we're together, my past seems worth it. Because if I had done one thing differently, I might never have met you." Simply put I could never see my life without him, without the "us" we have fought hard to become or without the crazy love we have grown and worked for together for over 20 years.
And so this Valentine's day I want to encourage all those struggling, trying to find purpose and balance within the boundaries of love and happiness. Some days are effortless while others are complicated. Love isn't easily defined so don't judge your relationships based on the romantic notions of one made up day of the year. After all there are 364 additional days for love to grow, to bloom and to mature. Just remember to "continue to love, continue to forgive and continue to grow."