Romance is defined as, “love, especially when sentimental or idealized.” It involves “the feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.”
Romance is the beginning, the starting point. I’m just going to say it: Romance is easy. I’m not saying that romance is not meaningful or important or fun. Who doesn’t enjoy simple gifts given spontaneously, dates planned with military strategy, notes written on napkins, and random texts saying “thinking of you :)” It’s easy because it lives in the land of the ideal where the sun is always shining and everyone lives happily ever after.
On the other hand, love is hard. To say that is not an indictment on the lover or the beloved. True love is anchored in reality. The reality of who I am and who you are. The reality of the situation you find yourself. The reality of embracing weaknesses as well as the strengths of the other. The reality of your own shortcomings. The reality of how life up to this very moment has influenced the way you function in relationships. The reality of risk, and possible sickness, failure and rejection. The reality that in spite of all the previously stated, I’m going to put your needs above mine.
- A number of years ago I was asked if I would help a couple celebrate their 25th anniversary by renewing their vows. “Of course,” I told my friend and she began making the arrangements. As she told me more about the couple, I realized this event would be different. It was not about romance but rather all about love. Only a month or so before their anniversary the wife, who was not yet 50 years old, had a massive stroke. The vow renewal would take place in the common area of the nursing home where the wife now lived. The day came. The room was decorated. The guests had arrived. The groom and their sons stood on my right. The daughter and daughters-in-law were on my left. And the bride was pushed slowly down the center isle in her hospital bed. They joined hands and began to repeat their vows. His were pushed out through a torrent of tears. Hers were garbled by paralysis. There were no dry eyes because this was not sentimentality or romance. What we were witnessing was love…love willingly embraced though difficult to live into.
I will never forget that day or those people. Romance is easy…Love is hard.
The following is Eugene Peterson’s translation of the apostle Paul’s inspired treatise on love:
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. Love never dies. (1 Cor. 13, The Message)