My sister is worried about me. I have written here about my struggles. Lately, I can’t seem to complete a long run without bursting into tears.
As a result, she has been contacting me more often, calling, texting, sending me links I might enjoy (like this link to the osprey-cam, which I now check compulsively throughout the day), suggested activities, and funny memes, like the one below.
My husband Bill and I spent a lot of time together even before the Coronavirus crisis. As of last January, we are both retired and at home during the day. We are also running partners, biking buddies, and together we drive for Meals on Wheels.
After a few weeks of following the stay-at-home order, I commented to Bill, “It’s a good thing we kind of like each other.”
It could get unpleasant very quickly otherwise.
It’s also a good thing we are forced to be in such close quarters at this point in our relationship, rather than earlier in our marriage.
Oh, we loved each other deep down. Deep, deep, deep, deep down. But there were numerous times when the air between us was loud and angry and one of us (me) sulked, pouted, and held a grudge when she didn’t get her way.
We had three children before we were thirty. I question now how well we even knew each other back then.
We were consumed with working out how to pay the mortgage, arrange for child care, keep our cars on the road, maintain some semblance of order in our living space, and stay one step ahead of three lively young boys.
When I was still teaching, I used to eat lunch every day with two young women who taught math.
Every Tuesday, they would have an animated discussion about the television show, “The Bachelor” for the entire lunch period, discussing the back-stabbing, maneuvering, and positioning they witnessed the night before by the young women competing to win the bachelor’s hand.
I thought I might watch the show so I could participate in the conversation but after less than one episode, my hubby quickly nixed the idea.
Bill, ever the romantic, was skeptical of the show’s premise. “All 20 of these women instantly fall in love with the bachelor and are willing to participate in fierce competition to see which one he proposes to?”
It’s true. He was right.
These women didn’t know the bachelor. How could they be in love with him?
Sort of like Bill and me when we were first married.
German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer often employed the term, “cheap grace” in his preaching. Initially, I thought this meant grace that was not earned and I was puzzled how Bonhoeffer, a brilliant theologian, could believe we had to earn grace, which is given to us freely, not merited by good deeds on our part. I now believe I have a deeper understanding of the meaning of his term.
When Bonhoeffer spoke of cheap grace, I believe he meant grace received without living a life of discipleship, without choosing to follow Jesus through hardships, turmoil, even heartbreak, dragging ourselves over rocky terrain to follow Him if we must.
Costly grace is what causes us to drop everything we have at a moment’s notice to follow the living Christ, Imago Dei.
In addition to cheap grace, I believe there is also “cheap love“.
When we first fall in love, we often see the object of our affection through a lens that removes faults, erases personal tics, and airbrushes away imperfections. This is cheap love.
Cheap love can be good, it can hold a relationship together for some time, but it is not transcendent.
Being loved by someone who knows you is costly love, this is love that is worth something.
Being loved by a person who can look at you knowing your human foibles, your tendency to exaggerate for the sake of a good story, to be a know-it-all, to need to have the last word in a discussion, to refuse to cook beets (OK, that may be too specific), that is love worth everything.
Time does not always result in costly love. There are plenty of long-term relationships in which the participants grit their teeth and stay for reasons other than love.
To achieve costly love, you must be willing to do the hard work of seeing the other person, of deep listening, of making yourself vulnerable enough to be known.
Then, once you have it, you hang on to this love with every last scrap of your strength, with tenderness, forgiveness, and tenacity. You recognize how valuable and rare your love is. You appreciate it. You revel in it. This love is precious and enduring, wild and ferocious.
This love makes you a better person, it leaves you unprotected, exposed, and it gives you strength. It gives you compassion and it consumes you. It makes you more patient and fills you with hope.
And, who knows? Someday it may be enough to compel you to cook beets for the one you love.
But don’t hold your breath.
You can find the places I link up here.
its good to be loved when you are known. talk about when we were first married,