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This has been a tough month. It’s been filled with late nights, early mornings, little sleep, busy schedules, marriage struggles, parenting difficulties, several setbacks, and endless frustrations. I’ve been going about my days in zombie-mode, feeling as if I’m only getting the essentials done, like feeding my family, washing our clothes, and taking a shower.
The theme of my month has been this…I want to quit.
I feel incredibly stretched and I know a lot of it is my own doing. I’m working myself too hard trying to get this blog and business going. I’m pushing myself too much in all areas and not allowing myself enough rest. I’m trying to be wife, mother, new business owner, writer, website developer, homework helper, meal maker, laundry lady, home project coordinator, DIY design diva, and self-motivated workout warrior…all in one day.
I’m in the weeds.
And, when I woke up this morning, I knew I was entering a day I haven’t particularly been looking forward to – a day when Scott had to leave town for another business trip. As with every other work commitment that takes him away from home, I vehemently dread these days. It just isn’t right when he isn’t here. As a result, I’ve been caught up in all the planning, coordinating, and little ins-and-outs of preparing over the last few weeks.
So I totally forgot it was Valentine’s Day.
Although my kids have been talking about it non-stop, and we bought the candy, filled out the cards, made the craft boxes, and even enjoyed some Valentine’s cookies this week, it was the last thing on my mind when I got out of bed this morning.
As Scott and I kissed each other goodbye after breakfast and parted ways – me off to preschool with the kids and him off to the airport bound for New Orleans – we apologized that neither of us had gotten a card for each other and we’d forgotten to get a box of chocolates to share this year. But it got me thinking about this holiday and what it really means to love.
Loving deeply is choosing to love right where we are, without the chocolate, cards, flowers, or a date night that is so prominent on Valentine’s. True love is surrender, an abandonment of your own needs and desires. It is sacrificing yourself for the sake of others.
The truest form of love comes from a place of wanting to quit and making a choice not to.
Right now, every day, I wonder what in the world I’m doing. Trying to balance all these roles is incredibly hard. I’m overwhelmed and discouraged and I want to quit my life in so many places. Ditching this blog would make the most sense – I would gain back atleast 3 hours in my day, every day. It would free up time for me to get so many other things done on my to-do list, accomplish small goals around the house that have been begging for attention, or take some much needed “me” time. There is so much to do and the learning curve is steep. It would be so easy to stop, push it aside, or throw it all away as a pipe dream. If I wanted to, I could choose to stop doing any number of things. I would probably regain some sanity in the process.
But I love my husband, children, embryos, family, friends, and you far too much to let myself get in the way of the calling God has on my life.
So I forge ahead one day at a time, one task at a time, resolving not to quit, strengthened solely and completely by the love of God. I can palpably feel Him spurring me on toward my God-ordained purposes. No matter how hard this is, no matter how far I am being stretched, I choose not to quit – I can’t quit, even if I wanted to. Every time I consider giving up, the Spirit of God whispers to my heart to keep going. He breathes hope, encouragement, and life into my tired soul.
The sacrificial love of God compels me to love sacrificially in my own life.
We can love like this because God loved us in this way first 1. Jesus struggled significantly with his own desires before His death, but he chose to bow to the Father’s will instead, sacrificing His life for all mankind, resolving not to quit when the going got tough2. He knew what was coming, knew what it would take, and out of love He did it anyways.
Today, amidst all the struggles, frustrations, and challenges, I’m thankful for the true love that lives in our hearts and in our home. I’m grateful for the difficult blessings He has imparted on us that require us to step outside of ourselves and pour abundantly into others. I’m grateful that the Lord fights for me when the enemy is trying to fill me with discouragement and fear, urging me to throw it all away 3. I’m grateful that God gives us the strength, resolve, and grit not to yield.
We are kneeling before God, surrendering ourselves to the Lord and each other, putting our trust and faith in Jesus, and laying it all at the foot of the cross. We are humbly asking Him to change us for His purposes, for His glory, and for the advancement of His kingdom. We are asking Him to help us show the love of Christ in as many ways as possible in our lives.
We know it will be hard.
But out of love, we do it anyway.
It is there that we leave our desire to quit and we pick up His cross of sacrificial love.
True love means waking up with the kids for school so I can sleep in. It means staying up all night with the baby so he can sleep in. It means getting all the chores done early before he comes home so we can spend time together at night. It means taking the boys to baseball practice after he’s had a long day at work. It means having his favorite meal on the table even if it takes some time to make. It means stopping and listening with intention even though there are a million others things to do. It means taking a business trip when he would rather be at home. It means becoming a stay-at-home mom because that’s what our family needs. It means fighting for our marriage even when it seems like it would be easier to walk away.
It means loving each other through our faults.
It means taking a deep breath of patience and giving grace after a hard day of parenting. It means disciplining and correcting our children because we know best, even when they don’t understand. It means accepting discipline and correction from our Father because He knows best, even when we don’t understand. It means pursuing the lives of our frozen embryos no matter how great the sacrifice. It means building a community support system to reach others who are hurting like we are, even though it stretches me beyond all my personal limits. It means fighting for each other and what we believe in.
It means loving and living our lives boldly for His kingdom and for the sake of Christ.
I’m so thankful that the Lord put this on my heart and had me reflect on what love truly means this Valentine’s Day. It has changed the attitude of my heart from one of defeat to one of fight, hope, and encouragement. I realize my perspective has been all off, that even though I am away from my husband today, being pulled in a thousand directions, un-showered and out of balance, breaking up sibling fights and arguing over homework assignments, that the true love that exists in my life is abundant, raw, and beautiful.
Most importantly, I’m sweetly and tenderly reminded of Christ and so very, very thankful for His perfect love. It drives out my fear, overcomes my failures, and pushes me to reach beyond myself4. He gives me the courage to reach for an abundant, full life. Before I was ever committed to Him, before I ever agreed to a relationship, He pursued me relentlessly and recklessly and deemed me worthy of true love. I didn’t do anything to earn it or deserve it.
Today, I am forever grateful for Him and how He has shown me what it means to truly love and be loved in return.
He fought for me, even when it got hard.
Out of His love for me, He did not quit.
And out of my love for you, neither will I.
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