My dearest children,
Papa and Mama celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary a few weeks back. It marked the end of Mama's confinement period, and I was craving beef. A juicy burger, to be exact. So I suggested that we head to Burger King for our celebratory dinner, much to Papa's horror.
I didn't get my burger. But I did get really good prime beef short ribs that I had to cook on a sizzling lava rock, and a huge bunch of flowers to boot. The bouquet had one sunflower, ten roses (for our ten years), and four carnations (representing the four of you). The florist told Papa he had chosen the strangest combination, however I begged to differ.
It was a lovely dinner, and the food was excellent. You could taste the effort that went into creating each dish: the layers of texture and flavours, all expertly blended together. You would have thought it would have been one of those romantic dinners, with candlelight, wine and some life-changing conversation. Instead, it was like a scene from one of our meals at home, except everyone was better dressed, and thankfully we only had one child to feed.
Baby J, you chose to poop first thing upon us reaching our destination, and the building that the restaurant was housed in did not have a changing table. We had to change you in the balcony, you perched upon the table with nothing between you and a eight metre drop, while I held on tightly to you. You fretted most of the time during dinner, and I ate half of the delicious food surreptitiously standing up in a corner, as I rocked you. We didn't have life-changing conversations. However, we did enjoy some quiet chit-chat, without the usual interruptions of having to bring a kid to the potty, or chasing a wandering toddler.
Many would say that romance disappears after the wedding. It does, if you are looking for it in all the wrong places. The bouquets and letters might decrease in number, the celebratory moments may become fewer and far between. This is even more so when there are kids in the picture. You can't really enjoy a quiet candlelit dinner when there are toddlers about: they need to be chased and fed, and sometimes might try to burn down the house with the candle.
But love? It doesn't slip away, making a quiet exit because everyone is just too busy trying to survive and care for the kids. Instead it grows, but you need to look carefully to spot it. You can find it in the kitchen, when one person does the dishes so the other can rest. You feel it in the hands of the person who volunteers to clean up the puke or the pee accident. You see it in the everyday moments, when one person decides to put the other's needs above their own. You sense it even in the quarrels, when one learns to control the tongue, and put aside pride to say "I'm sorry".
This kind of love is quiet. It's not showy with loud proclamations of adoration, but always there. As 1st Corinthians 13 puts it: "It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
I once read that while our God is all-powerful, we meet Him mainly in the plain moments of everyday life:
"We encounter God in the ordinariness of life:
not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary, mystical experiences
but in our simple presence in life.”
- Brennan Manning
I think it is the same when it comes to love, since we are only able to love through Him. We find love in the everyday moments, in our daily grind, in the grittiness of real life. Of course there are the high points, of celebrations and romantic dinners. These are not wrong in and of themselves. However, be careful not to use these as a barometer for a relationship, because it is much easier to buy flowers, than commit to doing the vacuuming week after week. Look hard for love in the ordinary, and be thankful for it when you do find it.
One day you will grow up, and you would start looking for love in that special someone. I pray that you'll look for love in the right places. Meanwhile, we pray that we'll be able to love each other and love you as God has loved us.
Your Mama and Papa.