All of the hearts are on sale. Already.
Maybe you’re still feeling an after-glow from a romantic weekend. Or maybe you feel more like the signs says: It’s over. Woo Hoo. Time to move on.
And maybe that would be a mistake.
It’s easy to live by our consumer-driven calendar. Splurge for the big day, move on to the next one tomorrow. It’s easy to forget that what’s behind the big day has no expiration date.
In this case, there’s a fundamental difference between celebrating a day and celebrating a relationship. Kind of like the difference between having sex and making love.
Let’s start with the sex part.
Sex is a wonderful thing. One of God’s most brilliant ideas. A sacrament, really. As Anne Lamott puts it, sex can be “as sacred as taking care of the poor.” Of course, it also gets manipulated and misused and twisted all around — just like religion, politics, and all things human.
But even in its great gloriousness, sex can only take us so far. It’s always temporary. A rest stop. By contrast, making love is nonstop. It goes on 24/7.
Making love involves the entire relationship of two very human, very messy people who tell each other every day, in their own voice and their own way:
— First and foremost, I am your friend. Always. I am here for you. No matter what the cost. No matter what anyone thinks. Take that as a given. A starting point.
— I’m available when you need me. Although if you need me in the morning, you may want to wait until after that second cup of coffee.
— When it comes to us, I’m all-in. And yes, there are times when I get scared and pull away temporarily, but I’m still all-in. You can tell by how I treat you not just some of the time, but all of the time.
— I want you to show me how to be my best self.
— I will try to make you laugh. Often. Especially on tough days. I’ll tell you a joke after you’ve taken a sip of something, just so that I can see it spray out of your nose when you get the punch line. I love that.
— When things get crazy, I am your safe haven.
— I will share my feelings, my passions, and my dreams with you — even though it’s scary because it leaves me vulnerable and truly naked. Plus, approximately 97 percent of the time, I’m not even sure of my feelings. They’re like rubber bands all wrapped together forming a ball. I want you to help me pull them apart and make sense of them.
— When I screw up (which is often), I will try to remember to say I’m sorry (and actually mean it) without having to be prodded (too much). And when you screw up (which is often), I will try to forgive you (and actually mean it).
— I love WHO you are. The person that you are. The whole package. I will resist the temptation to try to change you in some way. I won’t ask you to be anything other than you, or tell you to do things my way. And if I should lapse into doing that, please stop me immediately.
— You are worth all the risks and sacrifices.
— I will try to give you space when you need it, even though stepping back is oh-so-hard. I encourage you to grow. I want you to have many caterpillar moments when you enter a cocoon and emerge with new wings that I think are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
— I will not only remind you that I love you, but I will remind you of what it is about you that I love. Doing that will remind me, too.
— When we disagree, I’ll do it respectfully. Treating you with the respect and love that you deserve is more important than winning an argument.
— If you need a hug, my arms and my heart are yours. When you feel broken, you have my love to fill in the cracks.
— Challenge me and to call me out when I get caught up in my self-serving bullshit. And I’ll do the same for you. That’s how we grow.
— When you get all messy, I will celebrate your glorious messiness. And I invite you to do the same with messy me.
— When I get frustrated because you’re being selfish and petty, I’ll try to take a step back and remember how incredible you are, even when you’re being selfish and petty.
— And again, I will try to remind you often that I love you. Who you are. Just as you are. Right now.
Isn’t that making love?
It’s an ideal that none of us can live up to fully. But we try, even when we’re totally confused about love and life and relationships and what any of it means.
We try. We try. We try.
And as we try, we enter into something deeply sacramental. Something healing and holy, lovely and loving. Dripping with the divine.
Something sacred that has no place on the clearance table.