I am not going to write about Valentine’s Day. I have no gift ideas, no perfect words for a sentimental card, no box ‘o chocolates. This has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.
But it has everything to do with love. Which, I admit, was partially suggested to me by the nature of this week in February. But more so, this is an outgrowth of where my wife, Alle, and I are living right now.
It’s a stage of life where repetition reigns: we get up, go to work, take care of kids, work on client projects, take care of kids, eat, put kids to bed, work, collapse into bed, sleep, repeat. We form habits, fall into roles and patterns, and most often just make it through the day. And I’ve got a suspicion that this sort of rhythm defines most of married life with children. The details and schedules will change, but the patterns, the mundane, will continue in perpetuity. That’s how life is. Cycles, patterns, rhythm.
I’m learning to see the value in the repetitive. It gives structure and stability, moments and tasks to count on, roles and responsibilities to expect. But the mundane can also drive us into habits, into going through the motions, into not paying attention anymore. Let the ebb and flow of life drive our actions, fulfill the responsibilities, and check out. It’s something I fight against on a regular basis: staying engaged and intentional during a season marked especially by days that look the same. And it’s always compounded, because routines go hand in hand with busyness–particularly with kids in the house. Things never stop, they never slow. There’s always a next appointment, a meal to be made, cleaning to do, there’s always something.
Time and money get scarce; the schedule doesn’t let up; the kids get sick. Days that used to be set apart just for us–anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, and so on–get interrupted, or postponed.
So I’m learning. I’m learning to celebrate our marriage in the mundane. I’m learning to just lean in, and take it as it comes, and show my wife in the routine that she is still my priority. It’s usually not a big, romantic gesture. It’s the serving. The words. The attitudes toward her and the kids. It’s learning to let the moments, the tasks, the mundane breathe love for her.
I’m finding ways to show that love on a consistent basis. Giving her the afternoon to go out or work; making sure she comes home to a clean house; cooking dinner; bringing home her favorite dessert for no reason. In the routine, it’s building a routine of affection, concern, consideration– merely showing that she’s always on my mind and heart. Small actions accumulated go so much farther to demonstrate love than the occasional all-out gift.
Love is serving. It is laying down my life–setting it aside–for her good. And this happens not on the celebratory days, not the annual remembrances, not the special occasions; it happens every day, in the mundane. In the rhythm of life love grows deep. In the mundane, passion becomes loyalty. In the routine, I learn how to give extraordinary love.