"And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all that I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
Something extraordinary happened to me back on October 2, 1982. I didn't know it at the time, I had no clue whatsoever, but I was about to embark on a journey that would change the course of my life forever. On that beautiful fall day 33 years ago, I had the good fortune of getting married to someone who has been my rock, my confidant, and my best friend ever since, my wife, Janet.
I am not just saying this as a way of scoring some brownie points with my wife. I am not telling you this to try and make you believe that we have had a fairytale marriage for all of these years. I am not even telling you this to say that marriage is for everybody and that it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. No, I am telling you this for a very specific reason. I have come to believe over the last couple of years, as a man who has learned to open up his heart and share bits and pieces of his life with others, that this was a very important piece of my life that needed to be shared.
In both my blog and in my book I have opened up about many different events in my life. I have spoken of certain incidences or periods of time that had a profound effect on me and on those around me. I have done this because it has not only allowed me to come to terms with a lot of stuff that I was bottling up inside of me for so many years, but also with the hope that by sharing some of my life with others, that it would allow for them to do the same thing. To begin the process of letting go.
My marriage to Janet was the beginning of that process for me. But like any new process, there are usually many kinks that need to be worked out of the system. This was no exception. We had many bumps and bruises, plenty of nicks and scratches, and more than our share of broken bones along the way. There were times that we just plain thought that this was just not going to work. That we should just give up and call it quits.
But we never did. Love kept getting in the way. Love has a way of doing that to a relationship. As much as we let our own selfishness, and stubbornness, and hurtful natures take hold of our lives, we could never let go of our love for each other.
There is a reason that God tells us that love is the greatest gift of all. We can all have many different talents and be good, or even great, at so many different things. But if we don't have love, we have nothing at all. It took me a very long time to truly understand this. It took God sending some young kid from Saginaw, MI all the way down to Corpus Christi, TX to meet the person who would show him what love really means. It took a 1300 mile journey and a chance meeting to open my eyes. Only God could do something like that.
As Janet and I celebrate our 33 years together, we are of course much older, and certainly more aware of what it is that we have together. Much more so than those two young kids of long ago. We understand that even though life is a winding, twisting, up and down roller coaster ride, and that you often times have to hang on for dear life, that as long as we hold on to the deep love that we have for each other, nothing will be able to throw us off of this ride.
This was not, and is not, an easy concept to grasp. As a man, this was very difficult for me to understand for a very long time. I was a man! I was a warrior! I was not going to let an emotion like love weaken me. I would of course say the words "I love you" often and buy the obligatory flowers on all the right occasions. I was doing all of the "right" things that you are supposed to do when you love someone. But this was all of the surface stuff that I was so often guilty of falling into.
I had to see for myself and experience what real love was supposed to look like. I had to learn what love was all about and feel deep down what that particular emotion was. Love is not something that we are born with. It is an emotion, and like most of our emotions, it is learned through time and experience. I had hidden most of my true emotions for most of my early life. I didn't want to be hurt, ridiculed, or be made fun of. As a natural introvert, this became easy for me to do. Until, by the grace of God, Janet came into my life.
Janet, as anyone who knows her will tell you, is the extrovert in our relationship. She holds nothing back and lets her emotions run freely. Janet has taught me many things over our 33 years together. One of her greatest gifts to me was showing me what the true meaning of love was. A deep, sincere, compassionate form of love. By her unselfish example of the love that she pours out to not only me, but to everyone she knows, I was able to start to grasp the gift that God gave to us all. The gift of love.
I also finally came to the realization that deep, true, meaningful love does not weaken a man. It only makes him stronger. Jesus, the greatest warrior who ever lived, had the weight of the world on his shoulders and yet loved like no other.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians about the awesome power of love. He states that love is the greatest of all human qualities. My hope is that I can continue to grow in my understanding of love. Also, that by sharing my thoughts and feelings with others that they too will be able to better understand what real love is all about.
In the meantime, I want to say Happy Anniversary to my wife of 33 years, Janet. I want to say thank you for your unending love for me. For the example that you are of an unselfish, ever thoughtful, always caring child of God.
I love you always and this blog is for you.
The Shoe Shine Guy