In my last post, I posed the question “What is love?” and got some great answers on video as well as from CatholicMatch members’ comments. Because I know you as a CatholicMatch member love and a lasting relationship is vital to you, I want to take the reflection on love a step further.
I spend time on CatholicMatch reading blog articles and forum posts and appreciate everyone’s comments and perspectives on dating and single life. It’s not easy to be single these days, and it’s wonderful when you do find “the one,” so I believe it’s important to have a good idea of what you want your future to look like when the right one comes along.
Here’s my experience: I was married at 26, divorced against my will at 30 and had three miscarriages by then. I was single for seven years afterward, was annulled in 1997 and now remarried for 11 years with three beautiful children that I was not supposed to be able to have due to my medical history.
In our marriage, my husband and I have been through many financial, medical, and spiritual crises in that time and yet, we still dance in the kitchen every so often while I’m making dinner; we laugh heartily at our inside jokes – the ones no one else would get; and are still affectionately playful.
But at 48-years-old, I am facing middle-age and physically am very different than the girl he married in 2000. Since there is so much emphasis put on men and women these days about how they look, what they weigh, what they wear, etc., I just wanted to share this little bit of wisdom with you… not that it came from me, but is something I’ve come to realize is very true and will hopefully keep you motivated as you search for your lasting relationship. It comes from the book The Velveteen Rabbit, a story about a toy rabbit who wants to become a real rabbit. Truly a children’s story but abundant with an important life lesson for us as adults in 2011.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day…
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.” This is a perfect analogy of couples who have a enduring, deep, and intimate relationship.
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse… “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” When you are committed to someone and you know they are committed to you, you are in what I call a “safe environment”… one that allows you to be yourself with all your imperfections and still be loved. Our imperfections mean we will hurt each other but will move forward, confident in our love for and commitment to each other.
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?” “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“You can’t be ugly…”
This last line is my favorite and I’ll tell you why. I do my best to look attractive for my husband. But school lunches have taken precedence over manicures and pedicures at the salon. Even so, my husband still says he loves my cute toes.
I hate stepping on the scale because I’m reminded of what I used to weigh, but my husband still calls me his “hot wife.” I’ve had four C-sections. I take Centrum “Silver.” I have gray hair and gray eyebrows. I wear old-lady reading glasses. I’d scare the entire neighborhood at the bus stop in the morning if I didn’t do a little “damage control” before I stepped out the door.
But my husband still loves me. My children still smother me with kisses. And most of all, when I see the physical imperfections I have because of childbirth or getting older I know that God is happy with me because I’ve donated everything I had to my family – heart, mind, soul, and body. It’s all theirs and they are the ones who have made me real.
So whether you are widowed, divorced or never married, have no fear about the scars that come with living life and sharing them with someone. As you search for a lasting relationship, be on the lookout for the one who understands what real means.
What is love?
Love is making someone else real and letting real happen to you, too.