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True Love

Ahh, true love. I hope you give and receive it. My sweetheart and I have exchanged it since our teenage years—it matures and deepens with age. I’ve used John Lennon’s famous song before:

Grow old along with me The best is yet to be When our time has come We will be as one God bless our love God bless our love

Grow old along with me Two branches of one tree Face the setting sun When the day is done God bless our love God bless our love

Spending our lives together Man and wife together World without end World without end

Grow old along with me Whatever fate decrees We will see it through For our love is true God bless our love God bless our love

For some, words like these and Valentine’s Day itself bring sad thoughts and they want a corner to hide until it’s over. You may be separated by death from a spouse of many years; rejected or abused by someone you love; or a lifetime of searching fails to find a loving companion—a long list of tragedies. If this includes you, I grieve for your loss and pray you won’t lose faith in love. In this life loving relationships are risky. After his wife Joy died from cancer, C. S. Lewis said:

Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more. Only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.

In their biographical movie “Shadowlands”, as Lewis and his wife consider her approaching death after only four years of deeply loving marriage, she quotes this back to him:

We can’t have the happiness of yesterday without the pain of today. That’s the deal.

President Russell M. Nelson, as an apostle in the April 1992 General Conference, said this:

we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.

And the Psalmist says:

weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

But I’m very conscious that weeping can endure for more than one night, and sometimes the dawn never seems to come. There may be some reading this who are silently suffering, who can barely whisper a prayer. If so, my heart goes out to you. There are periods in our lives when we simply have no emotional energy or physical strength to spare. I’ve had my share of that over the years. There’s been times when I just wanted to curl up in a foetal position and shut out the world, desperate for solitude, unable to cope. Sometimes those patches can continue for days, weeks or even months and years. So I realise we can’t always be a fountain of jollity, the life and soul of the party, a giver of Valentines. But it’s my faith and testimony that even in our darkest night, our Saviour Jesus Christ can lead us to a peaceful morning.

Mortal life is an amazing, wonderful adventure but not risk-free. In fact it’s supposed to be hard. It’s a test. A small fragment of eternity with momentous consequences. Holding it all together, weaving in and out of our existence, giving meaning and purpose to life is the principle of love, misleadingly translated charity in the Bible. As Paul told the Corinthians:

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (1st Corinthians 13:2)

Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for all mankind because of his love. This world and our mortality are given because of the infinite love of the Father and Son. “Hang on” I hear you say, “that’s not the same as the romantic love of Valentine’s Day”. Are you sure? All I can say is that my love for my wife seems the same to me. After all, we give our life to each other without constraint. I believe one of the reasons we come here is to learn how to love. We can’t opt out of love to avoid sorrow, so let’s wholeheartedly celebrate the fourteenth of February.

Starting from my middle teens Valentine’s Day has been a big thing for me. I rejected commercial cards but designing and creating my own consumed huge amounts of time and effort. In a pre-computer age finding quotes, scripting the message, sketching an image, finding material, cutting card, creating a collage and so on was demanding. Then there was the gift, on a slender budget not easy and was often a homemade effort as well as the card. For some decades computer creations have replaced glue and scissors, and now I can afford a gift of flowers. Designing the card and manipulating the software is not quick or easy but eats up less time than my teenage creations. But if I had to choose one or the other, the physical product created with my own hands is more satisfying and I’m pretty sure was most appreciated by my true love. I believe she even kept some of them—in a tin box—on a shelf—somewhere.

Hmm, but then I wonder whether cards or flowers are a good measure of love anyway. Only, I think, if they come from caring, kindly, courteously loving hands.

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