Our house is a very, very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard,
Life used to be so hard,
Now everything is easy cause of you…
I’ll light the fire,
You place the flowers in the vase that you bought today.
(still my favorite love song…)
Dear Matt and Simona,
Saturday was your wedding day. A beautiful, romantic day you have both dreamed of for many months. Today the two of you are flying across oceans and mountains, glaciers and jungles… to a place just for the two of you. Alone.
And I sit here in my tiny cottage in the woods trying to condense all that I want to say into these few words on a screen. I type and I delete. I walk around the block and think of too many things I want to say. I try again.
And there is only this:
A love that lasts a lifetime doesn’t happen by accident.
It is not a romantic ending to a good story. It is not in the stars, not because you found the One. The kind of love you hope for isn’t because of good luck or good personalities or good timing. It does not wear out or go away. No one falls out of this kind of love.
A love that lasts a lifetime is a love that is lived on purpose.
It is a love that is gone after. A love that is done daily. A love that is thought about, sacrificed for, worked towards.
Even on bad days. Especially on bad days.
Yes, love is a gift. But perhaps more, real love, the kind of love that all of us long for, is a skill. A vocation. A calling.
And that is why I am writing these letters. Because I dare to believe that this is a kind of love that is possible. I believe that you two and anyone else can have a love that lasts for a lifetime. I believe that any of us— all of us— can become excellent lovers.
And more, I believe we are called to do this kind of love.
For the rest of forever.
That is what these letters will be about. The doing of real love. The craft, the skill, the expertise it takes to navigate real life and cultivate true love. I want to pass on what I am learning about how to “walk in the way of love” (Ephesians 5:2) so that when you are both old… with all the inherent greying and sagging and wrinkling and slowing that old age brings… you will still be in love.
Because I believe it’s possible, this whole-life love. Maybe not normal, but possible. And I don’t believe it has much to do with luck, though no doubt about it, some people have an easier time at it than others. And though I may have started off life as a dreamer, a romantic, a head-in-the-clouds innocent… I now have three plus decades of church ministry under my belt and all the inherent sad, tragic, disgusting, horrifying real-life-marriage stories to off-set my fairy tale take on life.
And I believe more than ever in the theory of redemption: that our God is a fixer of broken things. That your mess-ups and mistakes do not define you.
Nor is all that messiness a predilection for future failure. I read it in God’s Word and I see it in real life.
I have seen people tuck their broken, repentant, honest selves right into Jesus. I have seen Him exchange their sorry state with His glory, with His beauty. I have seen—close up—two people collide and fall on their faces and call out to God. I have seen the beauty He brings out of the ashes of fire-ravaged lives. How He melds two people into one.
And I am one of those: broken, selfish, spoiled, self-indulgent, and… redeemed. And so is your dad. You know that.
God doesn’t automatically make repentant, dependent people good, instead He fills them with God. With Himself. And then He slowly begins that painstaking process of smoothing off the ugliness. Something like the way He used glaciers to craft great swaths of smooth tundra, so slowly the movement is almost imperceptible.
The key, I have come to see, is patience. Patience with each other first, but also patience with yourself. We learn to love well. God Himself trains us in the way of love. Scripture is filled with wisdom to get us started and then to stretch us further until His way becomes, if not natural, at least a whole lot easier.
So, before the letters even officially begin, let me leave you with just a couple of things to tuck away.
- A love that lasts a lifetime is possible.
- A love that lasts a lifetime is not natural or easy or automatic.
- A love that lasts a lifetime requires the humility of daily brokenness before God.
- A love that lasts a lifetime involves skills that can be learned.
- A love that lasts a lifetime takes a lifetime.
A love that lasts a lifetime is worth it.
From my heart,
P.S. While I am writing these letters to my son and new daughter, they have agreed to let you read along. What I am hoping, is that you will bring your stories and wisdom and questions and comments with you. I get tired of talking all by myself. So please, let the conversation begin.
 Published and recorded in 1970, by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I’ve been whistling this one under my breathe for longer than you’ve been alive!