“Memory is the diary we all carry with us.” -Oscar Wilde
We are what we remember. Our memories are the framework in which we paint our current life. When we forget or we choose not to remember, we are similar to a sailboat who has lost its sail out in a stormy sea – no direction, no control, and you don’t know where you’re going to end up. You hope you’re going to land in a good spot, but there are no guarantees.
Memories serve to anchor us. Memories should be harnessed; we should use them to learn from and move toward growth. This is true for us as individuals; it also applies to our love lives. We fall more in love with one another as well as navigate conflict resolution, time management, financial decisions and even romance when we learn from what we have already done.
It’s no surprise that at the beginning of our love life, we intentionally do things to attract and enjoy our partner. We put a great deal of focused energy and make choices to nurture the relationship, to flourish both in our behaviors and our emotions. We do what we do so love can be grounded and grow. We want to make it work, usually at all costs.
This focus is exactly what Revelations 2 talks about in regard to the church of Ephesus. The relationship between the church and God isn’t about their ability to do the necessary hard work that is required for all relationships to survive nor their ability to survive the hard times; it is that they forgot the winsome, adoring behaviors that were done in the beginning of their love life. “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Rev. 2:3-5
Reviving our love lives means we take a hard look at what we did in the very beginning. We learn from HOW we fell in love and repeat that which made our love thrive.
- Communication – “Lots, frequent, consistent about everything” are how we could honestly assess our conversations at the beginning of our romantic relationships. I remember my husband and I spent hours in the middle of the night talking on the phone as we started seriously dating. We could not get enough “air time” as we wanted to know everything about the other person. And it wasn’t about bullet point facts – we wanted to know who the other person was in their being, in their heart, mind and soul.
- In our relationships today, do we put the same effort and attention into wanting to understand and explore the other person’s thinking and desires? Is my attitude one of “I still want to know you more?”
- Time investment – It takes time for relationships to become established. It takes time to preserve our relationships and help them become healthy and strong. Quality and quantity of time are not enemies, nor do we choose between one or the other. Both quality and quantity of time are required for relationships to prosper.
- In our relationships today, do we invest the time both in quality and quantity that is required for our love to develop in a resilient and sustainable way?
- Focus on the “lovely” – When I was dating my husband, if you had asked me what I loved about him, I could have gone on and on for days. And honestly, I still could. Yet, like most relationships, it is easy to get into the habit of a critical viewpoint and notice the challenges more than the charms of the relationship. By nature, we as people can be very judgmental. Making sure that our negative judgments are not larger than our positive ones is a key to a thriving love life.
- In our relationships today, do we practice the discipline of positive regard in which I build up the one that I love more than tear them down, both when I am speaking to them or when I am thinking about them?
Dear Reader, I encourage you to think back in time and to remember what you did in the beginning that caused you to fall in love in the first place. Make your memories work for you both in your love life with people and with your God. Let us be doers of the word in Revelation 2, not just hearers. What wisdom we can glean from our memories if we but take the time to inventory what “we did at first” when love was new and awe-inspiring?
Praying this year’s Valentine’s Day brings joy to your soul. You certainly bring joy to mine!
Blessings and Love Abundant, Elizabeth