For the past thirty three years I have had only one Valentine, my beautiful, wonderful, talented, godly, funny, artistic, kind, and generous best friend, Brenda Bell Pfohl. We have lived in thirteen different homes, two countries, had three wonderful sons, lost one, changed jobs four times, started David’s Refuge together, became grandparents and are now living in Florida looking for our next great adventure. Through all these changes one thing has never changed; my love and commitment to my bride. Thirty three years ago we stood in front of friends, family, and God on July 28th, 1984 at our wedding. I held Brenda’s hand as she looked into my eyes and I said, “Brenda, by the will of God and the desire of my heart I choose you above all others to be my beloved wife.” It was the best decision I have made in my fifty seven years of life.
Has it always been easy? Not really. We have had our ups and downs like most other couples. We have fought, been selfish, unforgiving, petty, hurt, and demanding. But we have also shared life, laughed, forgiven, communicated, worked hard, sought counsel, and loved. Early on we were taught that love is not a feeling but a commitment. I know there have been times I have done and said some stupid things that made Brenda feel unloved and not feel very loving towards me. Thankfully she stood solid on the commitment we made to each other and before God. I am hoping we are blessed with another thirty three years of life together.
In my past life as a pastor I had the privilege of performing many weddings. In almost every one of them someone got up and read from 1 Corinthians 13, the famous love passage written by the apostle Paul. In this brief passage are some great practical things we can do to love those around us. Just a few days ago I read this passage from a modern translation called The Message at our Valentines Date Night dinner. Here is what it says:
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….
But for right now…we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
1 Corinthians 13 (The Message)
This is the kind of love I strive to have for Brenda, my children, my friends and neighbors. I don’t always succeed but I am trying.
Here are a few things we learned about loving each other as we cared for David:
1. It’s OK to have fun! Give yourself permission to enjoy each other and spend time alone. There is no reason to feel guilty.
2. It’s never going to happen unless you schedule it! When was the last time you walked into the dentist with out a scheduled appointment to have your teeth cleaned. Never! The same is true for time together with your loved one.
3. It’s OK to ask for help to make it happen. I believe you will be surprised to discover that there are people who want to help you but just don’t know how.
4. Make it a habit to appreciate each other. Tell each other, “You’re doing a great job” every once in a while. Thank each other for acts of kindness, for working hard to support the family, for reading one more story.
5. Say I love you daily. Always remember, attention and affection for each other doesn’t have to be reserved for just date nights and special occasions like Valentine’s Day. A little extra effort on both sides can generate ongoing intimacy. A kiss goodnight, a gentle touch as you pass in the hall, a pat on the butt, a love message by e-mail or text. These little gestures can mean so much.
Now go tell someone you love them. I’ll start….