I have a confession to make: Sometimes I don’t like my kids. The same thing goes for my husband, Mark, too. And I’m pretty sure they would tell you the same thing about me. And that’s OK. Because we never promised to like each other all the time. We promised to love each other, and there’s a big difference.
That’s because liking something is fleeting. It can ebb and flow, such as what my kids are willing to eat for dinner. We tend to like things such as food, music, movies, TV shows, and sports teams. It is the reason that kids usually talk about liking each other rather than loving each other. Like gives us an exit plan. When we like something, on any given day, we may decide that certain thing no longer serves a purpose for us, and we move on.
But I don’t think love is like that. Love is a permanent commitment. Love sticks around, even when we would rather turn and run the other way as fast as we can. Like would run. Love stays put and stands on the shaky ground. That is because love requires putting in the work—even when you don’t feel like it.
Love Never Fails
Whenever I think about the idea of love, I always think back to when Mark and I were planning our wedding ceremony almost 27 years ago. When it came time to pick out the readings for the Mass, there was one, in particular, that I wanted. We both wanted it, actually, but I’m not sure about his reasoning. I knew mine, though.
The reading was the very popular reading for weddings from 1 Corinthians 13. I’m sure you’ve all heard it. In fact, most people can quickly quote the final line, “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (13:13). And, while I think the whole reading is beautiful, that’s not the message that drew me in.
The words in the reading that stuck with me were ones I thought spoke so eloquently to the love Mark and I were getting ready to promise to one another. Those words were: Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (13:7–8). They seemed to dig down a little bit deeper into the reality of love for me. Maybe it was the word endures that caught my attention. It seemed to imply that this journey we were starting wasn’t going to always be as magical as our wedding day.
In hindsight, I can see that my instincts were right. Endure is a very good word for summing up a marriage—and parenthood, for that matter. But it doesn’t work without the other part. For instance, when I was diagnosed with MS, I knew that Mark and I would have to endure some rough times. Even in those times, though, Mark’s love and support have softened the trials a bit.
When my kids haven’t liked me or Mark because of something that we’ve made them do or not do, we take comfort in knowing that love was 100 percent behind our decision. Love is the key word. For, even on days when we don’t really like each other, and it seems as if we’re just putting up with each other, we can take comfort in knowing that love is right there to help.
So, no, my family doesn’t always like each other. In that, I suspect we’re not much different than most people. What I do know, though, is that we love each other. And that endures.