I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
You may not think that a man who has been single all his life would know about love and romance, but I do. After growing up in the church and over 20 years of ministry I have seen a lot. What I have seen causes me to take love, romantic love more seriously. The media today shows you a shallow love, consisting of plastic faces, plastic breasts and plastic hearts. I have seen way more than that.
I have stood in the hospital hallway with an 87 year old man, who was crying like a little boy because his wife of 67 years lay sick in the room nearby, close to death. She was his life. They never went anywhere without each other. They washed the dishes together every night because whatever the other was doing, the other wanted to be there. Neither of them ever ran to the post office alone. They went together because they loved being together. I ask myself, am I ready for that kind of love? By the way, the wife did not die. She is still alive, but her husband died a few months ago. She still talks about him all the time.
Marriage is for life. If I fall in love like that, will I one day have to mourn the death of my spouse? Or will she mourn my death? I remember a story about an old man standing at the fresh grave of his wife of many decades. As he stood there, he was overheard saying, “It ended exactly how I wanted it to. She died first.” Let that sink in. It may not mean what you think. If I fall in love and get married I will not want to lose my wife and hopefully she would not want to lose me. Selfishness would make me want to die first so that I can get out of grieving her death when she goes. A lot of selfless love was behind the old man’s words when he said he was glad she died first so that she would not have to grieve. He grieved instead. That’s love. I believe that’s what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13.
I have seen a wife taking care of her sick husband day after day year after year. Because of his sickness it has been years since he was capable of doing anything for her. Even when he was well he was not the most faithful. Still she cares for him night and day year after year. Why? Because she made a vow 35 years ago. In her eyes, his lack of integrity on his vow did not loosen her from her vow. She still makes good on that vow every day. Wow! That’s love. That’s romance.
Being single is such a convenient way to be selfish. I am single so I can say that. I am not saying I am selfish, or all single people are selfish. I have heard it said that God gave us the Sabbath and tithing plan to help us systematically overcome selfishness. The Sabbath helps us overcome selfishness with our time, and tithe, the same with our money. Well I believe you can add marriage as another way to systematically overcome selfishness with both time and money.
I see married men and women spending their time and money unselfishly and making sacrifices every day. I may have never married yet, but I know what real love is. I have seen it, not on the silver screen, but in the daily lives of ordinary people. Well, ordinary people to Hollywood maybe, but they are heroes to me. Heroes not because of a one-time heroic effort, but life long day after day heroes.
I am sorry if this post appears morbid or depressing. I just want people to know how I think. In my ministry I see things others may or may not see. When I think about romance, and believe it or not I do think about it, I don’t think about William and Kate in a fancy carriage. I think about the man who spends his last dime to keep his wife alive from some rare disease. I don’t think about the rich doctor who shows up at ritzy parties with his cute little perfectly proportioned nurse. I think about the man who works two jobs and comes home every night to care for his wife who is recovering from a mastectomy. That’s the world that I live in and see every day. That’s what love and romance means to me.