Friday, February 13, 2009

For Jill

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

Today is the day before Valentine’s Day, the day I celebrate the wondrous gift God sent to me, my beautiful wife Jill. To make the occasion I’m posting the introduction to the first book I wrote for her, “Why I Love You”:

One of life’s great experiences is falling in love so deeply one cannot imagine ever being without the other. Whether a first love, a new love, or a rekindled love, we universally experience the wonderful feelings that come when we find that special person - the intense feelings of attachment, the euphoric passion, the promise of a happy future together. Some of us find one true love and keep that partner for a lifetime. Others have love that eventually fades, but remain ever hopeful of finding a new and longer-lasting love one day. Some have not yet fallen in love and are searching for the person that will fulfill their romantic dreams. No matter where we are in our lives or what else may occupy our time, we all wish to have someone to love, someone who will love us in return.

When it comes to falling in love there are, I think, two kinds of people. The first is one who has a well-laid plan by which they seek a partner that possesses certain preferred qualities and characteristics. Upon finding such a person, they pursue a cautious and measured courtship, waiting for signs of reassurance before giving in to feelings of attachment, never taking too much risk, slowly and incrementally revealing more about themselves, until a respectable time has passed and a sense of comfort has been attained, before ever coming near uttering those three powerful words, “I love you.”

The second kind has no such plan or patience for caution. They will think nothing of the risk being taken when investing in someone, nor will they bother to proceed carefully, but will choose instead to reveal everything about themselves to whoever wishes to know them. These are the people who believe in serendipity, who trust their feelings and are led by their heart, who are on a relentless quest to find, earn, and keep love in their lives. These are the people who do not tiptoe into love, but instead know only to dive in, head first, with abandon. I am one of these people.

Exhilarated by the dive, I like it when my heart pounds so fast and strong that I can feel it in my chest and hear it in my ears. I enjoy the hope that swells inside, and I look forward to discovering what promise the relationship may hold. I don’t stop to think about what I am doing, but instead choose to feel my way along, not knowing if it will last but trusting to gain something worthwhile from the experience, giving of myself what I can and hoping for my affections to be returned. Sometimes I have been rewarded, and other times not. Sometimes I have been disappointed and hurt. Sometimes, regrettably, I have done the disappointing and hurting. Yet, through it all, I have continued to approach relationships in the same way, head first, without hesitation, hoping each time to find the relationship from which a lasting love would grow.

I have been in love more than once. Although at times I have been heartbroken, I have few regrets about these failed relationships because each of them, from high school infatuations to relationships of my adulthood, has fulfilled a special need in my life at the time, helping me to discover more about myself and improving my understanding of intimacy and commitment. For me, each relationship has been another step in the journey to a more meaningful capacity to truly love someone. I have learned much along the way.

I have learned that love is like a diamond, hard and durable, yet if handled carelessly, can cleave into worthless fragments. A relationship must be cared for and nourished if it is to remain whole. Care and nourishment may take many forms, like sending love letters, bringing home flowers, or planning romantic evenings together. Care and nourishment can also be simple, like speaking from one’s heart and telling the other of the love that is inspired within you. I have learned that love involves risk, and it is only after taking risk and finding that no harm will come that a deeper love can grow. I have learned that love involves work. It brings with it challenges and compromises, and it sometimes brings tears, but with the desire to carry out one’s commitment with passion and persistence, it is work worth doing and even more love is the reward. Above all, I think the most valuable lesson I have learned is that love cannot go unexpressed. Signs of love must be demonstrated and words of love must be spoken if love is to continuously flow with vigor. It is this lesson that has brought me to write this book.

Recently and unexpectedly a great and wonderful blessing has visited upon me, and the next time —the last time—has come. I have met a woman, a woman who reminds me each day why I enjoy being in love, a woman who is teaching me more about loving than I have ever known. She gives me acceptance, kindness, and grace that compel me to better myself for her enjoyment. She pleases all my senses, stimulates my mind and my passions, and encourages my ever-increasing hunger for her company. She lets me love her the way I want to, and welcomes all that I have to give her. She tirelessly shows her love and enthusiasm for me. I have told her of my many weaknesses and trespasses, and she has not retreated from me. I have revealed to her my fears, and she has comforted me. I do not know how I became so fortunate, but I know that I am.

It is because of this woman that I, for the first time, now question myself and my past relationships, worrying that the way in which I have conducted myself leaves me suspect when I tell her how I feel about her. What if I cannot adequately express to her what she has come to mean to me, or why she is different from those I have known before her? I worry that I cannot say something original to her, or do something for the first time with her, that I will be unable to make it clear to her and to others that this time it is different. Out of this worry comes a determination and resolve to do the only thing I know how to do, but to do it better than ever before, and that is, to just dive in. So it is with this book that I fearlessly walk to the edge and declare to her that I want to be with her—now and always. When I first place it in her hands, it will be with this book that I tell her, “I love you, and I want to tell you why.”

It is true, Jill is my greatest earthly blessing – she has done so much to help me become who I am today. I will love her forever.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

1 comment:

Ginny said...

Oh, how very precious. You and Jill are blessed. Your words are an encouragement and an inspiration to those of us privileged to read them.