Three Stories on Love
Between a rock and the love of God
When Andrew got ready for work one Friday morning, he announced to his wife that he had finally decided to ask his boss for a salary raise. All day Andrew felt nervous and apprehensive as he thought about the upcoming showdown. What if Mr. Larchmont refused to grant his request? Andrew had worked so hard in the last 18 months and landed some great accounts for Braer and Hopkins Advertising Agency. Of course he deserved a wage increase.
The thought of walking into Larchmont’s office left Andrew weak in the knees. Late in the afternoon he finally mustered up the courage to approach his superior. To his delight and surprise, the ever-frugal Harvey Larchmont agreed to give Andrew a raise!
Andrew arrived home that evening—after breaking all city and state speed limits—to a beautiful table set with their best china, and candles lit. His wife, Tina, had prepared an exquisite meal, including his favorite dishes. Immediately he figured someone from the office tipped her off!
Next to his plate Andrew found a beautiful lettered note. It was from his wife. It read: “Congratulations, my love! I knew you’d get the raise! I prepared this dinner to show just how much I love you. I am so proud of your accomplishments!” He read it and stopped to reflect on how sensitive and caring Tina was.
After dinner, Andrew was on his way to the kitchen to get dessert and he observed that a second card had slipped out of Tina’s pocket on to the ceramic floor. He bent forward to retrieve it. He read: “Don’t worry about not getting the raise! You deserve it anyway! You are a wonderful provider and I prepared this dinner to show you just how much I love you even though you did not get the increase.”
Suddenly tears swelled in Andrew’s eyes. Total acceptance! Tina’s support for him was not conditional upon his success at work.
The fear of rejection is often softened when we know someone loves us regardless of our success or failure. In my experience as a pastor, the strongest encouragement I receive is from the love of our heavenly Father. As long as I am faithful to do my best, God stands behind me no matter what happens. He will not condemn me for my mistakes or failures.
Quite the opposite! He heals my wounds and enables me to make another run for it in the very area where I experience defeat. Another display of the Lord’s acceptance is when He touches me through positive support from my wife.
We can undergo almost any setback or rejection if we know someone else loves us. The first place to start? Begin by discovering the unconditional mercy and compassion of our loving heavenly Father as shown in the gift of His Son Jesus. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV).—Story adapted by Louis Lapides
Love is action
I took my daughter, Helen (eight years old), and son, Brandon (five years old), to the Cloverleaf Mall in Hattiesburg to do a little shopping. As we drove up, we spotted a Peterbilt eighteen-wheeler parked with a big sign on it that said “Petting Zoo.” The kids jumped up in a rush and asked, “Daddy, Daddy. Can we go? Please. Please. Can we go?”
“Sure,” I said, flipping them both a quarter before walking into Sears. They bolted away and I felt free to take my time looking for a scroll saw. A petting zoo consists of a portable fence erected in the mall with about six inches of sawdust and a hundred little furry baby animals of all kinds. Kids pay their money and stay in the enclosure enraptured with the squirmy little critters while their moms and dads shop.
A few minutes later, I turned around and saw Helen walking along behind me. I was shocked to see she preferred the hardware department to the petting zoo. Plus, I thought the children had to wait till the parents came to pick them up. I bent down and asked what was wrong.
She looked up at me with those giant limpid brown eyes and said sadly, “Well, Daddy, it cost fifty cents. So, I gave Brandon my quarter.” Then she said the most beautiful thing I ever heard. She repeated the family motto: “Love is action!”
She had given Brandon her quarter, and no one loves cuddly furry creatures more than Helen. She had watched both me and my wife do and say “Love is action!” for years around the house. She had heard and seen “Love is action,” and now she had incorporated it into her little lifestyle. It had become part of her.
What do you think I did? Well, not what you might think. First, we went back to the petting zoo, since Brandon was by himself. We stood by the fence and watched Brandon go crazy petting and feeding the animals. Helen stood with her hands and chin resting on the fence and just watched Brandon. I had fifty cents burning a hole in my pocket; I never offered it to Helen, and she never asked for it.
Because she knew the whole family motto. It’s not “Love is action.” It’s “Love is SACRIFICIAL action!” Love always pays a price. Love always costs something. Love is expensive. When you love, benefits accrue to another’s account. Love is for you, not for me. Love gives; it doesn’t grab. Helen gave her quarter to Brandon and wanted to follow through with her lesson. … She wanted to experience that total family motto. Love is sacrificial action.—Dave Simmons, “Dad, The Family Coach”
Do it now!
In a class I teach for adults, I recently did the “unpardonable.” I gave the class homework! The assignment was to “go to someone you love within the next week and tell them you love them. It has to be someone you have never said those words to before or at least haven’t shared those words with for a long time.”
Now that doesn’t sound like a very tough assignment, until you stop to realize that most of the men in that group were over 35 and were raised in the generation of men that were taught that expressing emotions is not “macho.” Showing feelings or crying (heaven forbid!) was just not done. So this was a very threatening assignment for some.
At the beginning of our next class, I asked if someone wanted to share what happened when they told someone they loved them. I fully expected one of the women to volunteer, as was usually the case, but on this evening one of the men raised his hand. He appeared quite moved and a bit shaken.
As he unfolded out of his chair (all 6’2” of him), he began by saying, “Dennis, I was quite angry with you last week when you gave us this assignment. I didn’t feel that I had anyone to say those words to, and besides, who were you to tell me to do something that personal? But as I began driving home, my conscience started talking to me. It was telling me that I knew exactly who I needed to say ‘I love you’ to. You see, five years ago, my father and I had a vicious disagreement and really never resolved it since that time. We avoided seeing each other unless we absolutely had to at Christmas or other family gatherings. But even then, we hardly spoke to each other. So, last Tuesday by the time I got home I had convinced myself I was going to tell my father I loved him.
“It’s weird, but just making that decision seemed to lift a heavy load off my chest.
“When I got home, I rushed into the house to tell my wife what I was going to do. She was already in bed, but I woke her up anyway. When I told her, she didn’t just get out of bed, she catapulted out and hugged my neck, and for the first time in our married life she saw me cry. We stayed up half the night drinking coffee and talking. It was great!
“The next morning I was up bright and early. I was so excited I could hardly sleep. I got to the office early and accomplished more in two hours than I had the whole day before.
“At 9:00 I called my dad to see if I could come over after work. When he answered the phone, I just said, ‘Dad, can I come over after work tonight? I have something to tell you.’ My dad responded with a grumpy, ‘Now what?’ I assured him it wouldn’t take long, so he finally agreed.
“At 5:30, I was at my parents’ house ringing the doorbell, praying that Dad would answer the door. I was afraid if Mom answered that I would chicken out and tell her instead. But as luck would have it, Dad did answer the door.
“I didn’t waste any time—I took one step in the door and said, ‘Dad, I just came over to tell you that I love you.’
“It was as if a transformation came over my dad. Before my eyes his face softened, the wrinkles seemed to disappear, and he began to cry. He reached out and hugged me and said, ‘I love you too, son, but I’ve never been able to say it.’
“It was such a precious moment I didn’t want to move. Mom walked by with tears in her eyes. I just waved and blew her a kiss. Dad and I hugged for a moment longer and then I left. I hadn’t felt that great in a long time.
“But that’s not even my point. Two days after that visit, my dad, who had heart problems, but didn’t tell me, had an attack and ended up in the hospital, unconscious. I don’t know if he’ll make it.
“So my message to all of you in this is: Don’t wait to do the things you know need to be done. What if I had waited to tell my dad—maybe I will never get the chance again! Take the time to do what you need to do and do it now!”—By Dennis E. Mannering
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