Love is a tricky thing to wrap your head around.
There are times it can be senseless, overwhelming, and wonderful in the best of ways. It can defy logic, reason, and even extend outside our dictionary, becoming a very strong reality that there simply aren’t words to describe.
It’s powerful, like a drug. It can cause people to do incredible things, yet when misused, the worst of things. The absence of love, or the abuse of love, can break a person into a thousand pieces with the hopeless feeling that they will never again be whole.
Today I find myself contemplating the depths of love within my marriage, all because of a car.
When Adam graduated college, his mom bought him a shiny, new, silver mustang. A car with some muscle. A car she loved, too. A car that Adam’s brother assured him he would find his wife in. I mean, he had a point–who doesn’t love a man in a mustang?
We went on our first date in that car.
We had our first kiss in that car.
Countless memories were made in that car, both before me and with me. A lot of great miles, a lot of wonderful moments.
And two days ago, we sold it.
We knew as soon as we got pregnant the sports car would need to be traded in for something a little more “kid friendly”– you know, a car that actually has a backseat. So Adam did his research and when he was ready, he pulled the trigger.
Mustang out, kid friendly SUV in.
But getting ready for this kind of thing wasn’t easy. Adam’s mom passed away a little over 3 years ago, suddenly, from a short and horrific battle with cancer. The mustang was her last big gift to him. And now he found himself selling the car she loved to purchase a new vehicle for the grandchild she would never meet.
It’s a car, but it’s more than a car.
And get this: not only did Adam sell his car, the car he loved, but the new car…it’s for me.
Yes, we’re married, and yes we share things. We both will drive both. But Adam gave up this piece of himself because he wanted to bless me. He wanted me to drive a safer car in the winter. He looked at cars that “looked like” me. He went a tad over budget because he found a car that he thought was perfect for me (he also called it a “grocery getter” so do with that what you will).
He did this all for me, and our little babe, knowing in the end he would drive my car, which isn’t shiny and new. It still has a crack in the front from when I ran over that stop sign (IT WAS ICY). It still has 100 tubes of chapstick’s scattered throughout in the event of some sort of chapstick related emergency. Sure, it still runs great, but it’s no mustang.
Adam was more than willing to give up something he loved, no strings attached, for me. And it wasn’t obligation or simply the need to please me; he was excited about my gain, regardless of his loss.
You guys, that’s the kind of love that brings tears to my eyes, the kind that I can’t totally wrap my heart around. Because it’s deep. And self-sacrificing. And receiving that kind of love without feeling guilty is hard. Receiving a gift of that magnitude is humbling and wonderfully overwhelming.
It’s a car, but it’s so much more than a car.
Adam’s love for me has me contemplating God’s love for me. This extravagant, hard to fully grasp, worth dying for kind of love.
“And I ask that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all the followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb to the depths! Rose to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”
-Ephesians 3:18-19, The Message
Possibly you agree with this, but possibly you don’t. Maybe God’s love seems too mysterious and intangible. Maybe it has seemed contradictory to the way your life has played out. Maybe it seems too elusive to really grab a hold of, let alone live by.
Or maybe it’s been people who have ruined it for you, made you question or reject it all together. You see the kind of people claiming to live by God’s love and they just seem to be doing it all wrong, full of judgement, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness.
Or possibly the people who are supposed to love you with that kind of love haven’t, and they’ve completely let you down. Which is a shame, because I think that’s the exact opposite of what our relationships are supposed to do.
I believe in demonstrating that kind of love to each other we are to be portals, a sneak peek of what’s to come, a little taste of heaven on earth.
There are glimpses in my marriage, in Adam, of a deeper love, one that is beyond anything of reason, beyond anything our human, selfish nature would be capable of on our own. Something magnificent, something wondrous, and something incredibly real. Something absolutely God.
And showing that kind of love to someone is hard, but I believe receiving it–not earning it or paying it back or working your way up to it–is much harder. To realize you didn’t do anything to deserve it, and you never really could. It’s humbling. And invigorating. And amazing.
And that’s just the beginning of it.
Wherever you’re at, may you plant your feet firmly in love. A love that changes how you speak and think and act and plan and live.
May you find yourself in a place where you can’t possibly reach the lengths of the love God has for you–because, my friend, it’s an ocean. But may you try with all your might to dive into the depths, that you may discover and live a full and satisfying life.
May you experience a love like that.