Here in your midst I feel completely at home; for me, living means being here with you. -St. John Bosco
It is so easy to have a preconceived notion of what romance looks like. Too often, Hollywood portrays a vision of romance that will put any “normal” marriage to shame – it’s rainbows, butterflies, stars in the eyes. It’s overlooking foibles at every turn. It’s being able to change something you don’t like about another person into something you treasure; or, them changing you into something they desire. In fact, most of the “rom-coms” of my adolescence dealt with the ugly duckling girl who comes out of her shell, experiences a massive makeover to woo the man of her dreams, and they ride off into the sunset happily ever after.
Romance novels share similar tales. At the end of the book, everything is wrapped up neatly with a bow. Everyone is in love and all the problems are solved.
And, quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with that version of romance. But, as any mother can attest, love isn’t always quite the happy, naive, bubbly portrayal we see in Hollywood.
Rather, for a mother, love comes in many shapes and sizes. It comes with the dishes being cleaned, or the laundry being sorted and washed for the third day in a row. Love is expressed in the middle of the night with a fussy, teething baby who won’t let you put them down. Love shows when a mother holds her temper just a bit at the spilled milk, remembering the child’s developmental stage. And, love is in the anger mothers face as the mothers set boundaries for their prepubescent or raging, hormonally driven teenager. A mother’s love flows from every late night to early morning, from every driving force that motivates her to do her best to raise her children – with, or without manuals.
Romance and love go hand in hand. And, yet, romance isn’t always the way Hollywood would have it portrayed.
At the end of the weary day, there is one romantic story I feel compelled to write about today. It’s a story that we’ve all heard a million times. Yet, it’s also a story that is so personal, it can be replayed without getting tiring – kind of like the timeless love story of The Princess Bride.
This love story provides the framework of all other love stories. It has intrigue, it has deception, it has an air of mystery, it has tragedy. There is passion, there are miracles, and there is so much excitement. And, at the end of the day, there is endless love that surpasses all others.
Perhaps, it’s the greatest love story of all time, and is just waiting for you to become engaged and involved — even in the middle of the sleepless nights.
This love story? So personal I can’t even describe it for every reader. But, let me try to lead you into considering this love story in a different way.
A long time ago, there was a small baby who was born in a stable. His parents didn’t have much, but they knew He was special. In fact, others also recognized His importance — from kings who travelled from afar, to little shepherds outside the town, to the elderly faithful who waited for Him in the Temple. This Little One was important to so many … and would become important for love of you.
This Babe grew into childhood, learning how to be loved, and how to love from the parents He knew on earth. He learned how to teach others, and learned how to answer even the most difficult questions.
The Boy became a Man, and walked this earth deepening His relationship with His Heavenly Father, while leading others to God as well. People continued to recognize how important and special He was, and continued to flock to Him. And, some people began to plot against Him. While they were planning His demise, this Man continued to preach love toward all. He preached compassion. And, yes, He issued His fair share of warnings.
Eventually, this Man was tortured … and, He was killed. He was dragged through the streets, carrying a cross so heavy that He fell repeatedly, even with the assistance of another person carrying the weight. He was nailed to the same cross and hung for hours until His earthly body had breathed its last.
Throughout the entire ordeal, this Man had one thought — His love for you, dear reader.
For sure, He was no ordinary man … rather, He was fully man, fully divine. And, throughout His life, He showed each of us the exemplary way to love.
Unlike Hollywood, love isn’t cut and dry. It’s not easy. It’s brutally hard at times. Perhaps not the same difficulty as having thorns pressed into our heads, or whips cutting away at our backs, or nails being driven through our flesh, or the feeling of our lungs collapsing.
Instead, the difficulty of love manifests in those painfully sleepless nights. It manifests in the biting of the tongue when our anger wants to come out. The difficulty of love displays itself when we desire something that we know will lead us further from God’s embrace.
We are in a liturgical season in which we are called to pray more, fast from things we have chosen, and to give a little more to others. We are called to return love to One Whose example is so far removed from our everyday lives, that it’s hard to comprehend.
Yet, that is precisely what we should try to do.
We should recognize the beauty that Christ saw in each of us as He hung on the cross. We should strive to live the life of passion, courage, and faith that He knew we would possess today, as He hung on the cross. We should take comfort that He knew what we would be experiencing centuries later, all because of His love for us.
And, He knew all our pains, all our struggles, all our doubts would surface. But, He loved us so much anyway, that He still chose to die for each. one. of. us.
Almost every woman out there wants a good love story. To either be in one, or to hear of a good love story.
Yet, every woman is the center of a love story!
It’s a love story so powerful that the Lover doesn’t care whether or not we wear makeup. He doesn’t care whether or not we have stinky breath or unwashed hair. He doesn’t care if we feel like we’re hanging on by a thread as we move about our days on autopilot.
Instead, He’s offering us a lifeline. He’s offering us more thread.
He sees each woman and says, “You are beautiful. You are radiant. You are glorious. You are worthy of My life.”
As we continue through these forty days of Lent, let us reflect on Christ’s sacrifice — not in a larger sense, but rather, let us focus on that personal connection that He is calling for from each of us.
Let us sit with Him, in His presence, and soak up all the joyous love He offered each of us as He held His arms stretched out on that cross at Calvary.
St. John Bosco wrote those words of love for Christ, but let us instead allow us to receive those words of love from Christ, “Here in your midst I feel completely at home; for me, living means being here with you.”
He wants to feel at home with you. He wants to live by being here with you.
Will you let Him in?
Copyright 2019 AnnAliese Harry