No Shades of Grey: Real Love 50 Ways in Old Love Letters

Fifty is a good number. When you’ve been married 50 years, it’s your golden anniversary. The Bible calls every 50th year a Jubilee. Personally, I feel splendid in my 50s. The fabulous 50s. Our culture seems to be obsessed with this number when it comes to destroying marriage and sexual purity. Some may recall when Paul Simon sang about 50 ways to leave your lover. Now there’s 50 shades of grey that sound so depraved it’s hard to fathom anyone would be enticed by it.

An artist’s palette blends black and white to make grey. While it’s useful for making shadows, it is rather dull and forlorn. I don’t like what lurks in shadows. Grey can’t be trusted. Grey is undecided. I prefer absolute distinctions. Wrong or right. Love me, love me not. No in-between. There are no shades of grey in love.

We need a renaissance of real love. Put the electronic devices away. Stop the curt, lazy texting. Look away from the deviant culture of contemporary literature and film. This Valentine’s Day, write a love letter.  What a lost art! Love letters can be tied with ribbon and saved in shoe boxes. They are monuments of heartfelt love and passion. Real love. Once again, we go back to the past to rediscover such relics of love.

Love letterMay I present to you fifty ways to say you love her/him with the following snippets from old love letters? This is an example of real love:

“…the passing of the years does nothing but deepen and intensify my love for you…and yet I see that there is no end to love…there is no lover, anywhere, writing to his girl who is quite as mad about her as I am. ” — Ever yours, Martyn   (Martyn Lloyd-Jones to his wife, Bethan)

Try constructing a letter, on real paper, this Valentine’s Day. Pick up a pen and express unfeigned devoted love to your spouse. (Honey-do lists don’t count.) I know you’re busy this weekend so I’ve pulled out 50 words and/or phrases to inspire you. These were taken from The Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Love and Marriage in the Letters of Believers. Here is a great review of the book by Tim Challies. I highly recommend adding this little treasure to your bookshelf.

  1. deep

    renoir_dance1883
    Renoir: A Dance in the Country, 1883
  2. intense
  3. endless
  4. mad (about you)
  5. ever yours
  6. your letters are more efficacious to cure my headache than all the drugs of the  apothecaries’ shops
  7. delight
  8. loving kindness
  9. I now covet your heart
  10. the prospect of calling you my own
  11. the life of my life is bound up in your love
  12. abound
  13. beauty
  14. unaffected modesty
  15. fire enkindled
  16. burning and increasing ardour
  17. real regard
  18. sincere affection
  19. anxiously await
  20. felicity
  21. temporal blessing
  22. my dearest friend
  23. communicate your thoughts with freedom
  24. invariable affection
  25. pray for me
  26. humble servant
  27. unfeigned friend
  28. honorable esteem of a wife
  29. he loved her soul
  30. constant
  31. often thought of you
  32. most fondness
  33. many comfortable days and weeks and years with you
  34. perfectly happy
  35. I long for
  36. reading…your letters is more to me than any other company or entertainment which books or friends can here afford mevalentine3
  37. remembering you
  38. to be much together
  39. cast myself at your feet
  40. your devoted servant
  41. great pleasure to find you love me so tenderly
  42. let us stir up each other to return sincere and vehement love for all His benefits
  43. ardent desire
  44. genuine piety which eminently adorns your person
  45. spend my life in happy union
  46. dearest of mortals!
  47. I sincerely love you
  48. my sweet love
  49. pleasing painful passion
  50. passions are blind and dangerous leaders, but when they faithfully follow conviction they preserve their proper place and are not amiss…

Note that last one! It was written by Thomas Charles to his intended wife, Sally Jones, in the year 1780. What wisdom. Thomas Charles is also quoted in #6 about Sally’s letters as a cure for his headache. I bet you thought a woman wrote that one!

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and remember to express real love to your spouse using the ancient form of communication known as the love letter.

Red rose on love letter

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Communication Breakdown? Lessons from the Mirror

So why did the Savage and the Witch (read my previous post if you don’t know what I’m talking about) have such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? According to Fox News Magazine, the #1 marriage problem is poor communication. Really? I never watch Fox News or anything related to Fox, but this article came up in my internet search. The article speaks of a survey done by the ‘digital leader in love and relationships’ – YourTango.com. Please don’t check them out. They don’t have a clue about love. And I say phooey to the Fox, who, by the way, was the animal least trustworthy in fairy tales. The problem goes much deeper than communication.

Was communication the not-so-fictional fairy tale couple’s problem? Let’s get to the heart of the matter.

good-and-bad-heart-vector-illustration_M1eVR0ud18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.  – Matt. 15:18

Therefore, the problem is not communication itself, but the heart – a heart full of love for self.

The idolatry of SELF. It’s a cancer in marriages and society in general. When we put our own needs and desires above those of our spouse, everything crumbles. Including communication. So you see, it’s not more lip-flapping that’s needed. It’s not even communication skills. One could be a fabulous communicator but only be communicating narcissistic hot air ala Savage, or bellowing out bossy instructions like the Witch. Our ugly insides spew out through the mouth. We hurt the one we’re closest to – our spouse. They get the brunt of all our irritation, even when we’re upset with ourselves we take it out on them. Here is more of the lesson to be learned from that fairy tale.

Matthew Henry says:

“The use we are to make of God’s word may be learnt from its being compared to a glass, in which a man may behold his natural face. As a looking-glass shows us the spots and defilements upon our faces, that they may be remedied and washed off, so the word of God shows us our sins, that we may repent of them and get them pardoned; it shows us what is amiss, that it may be amended. There are glasses that will flatter people; but that which is truly the word of God is no flattering glass. If you flatter yourselves, it is your own fault; the truth, as it is in Jesus, flatters no man. Let the word of truth be carefully attended to, and it will set before you the corruption of your nature, the disorders of your hearts and lives; it will tell you plainly what you are.”

Communication flows from our hearts. We get defensive. We want glory for ourselves. We think we’re great. The Apostle Paul says:

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. — Romans 12:3

Paul Tripp says:

“Instead of using the mirror of God’s Word to keep our judgment sober, we see an aggrandized version of who the Bible says we actually are.”

I came across Tripp’s article after I wrote the fairy tale. It’s like the Lord is affirming these thoughts and teaching me further. Pretty amazing! Paul Tripp further explains:

“Do you examine your character daily by humbly placing your heart before the one mirror you can trust, the mirror of the Word of God? Or have you fallen into the habit of looking into the distorted mirrors of knowledge, experience, success and recognition?

I understand why it’s tempting to run to these mirrors instead of to Scripture. These mirrors will give you a partisan view of your character and a false sense of approval, while Scripture will expose your weaknesses, flaws and failures. But remember this – the Cross of Christ liberates you from fear of that exposure, because the grace of the Cross has made provision for everything the Bible reveals about you.”

Amen! Please read Paul Tripp’s More Highly than You Ought.

IMG_1178A good question to ask your spouse is “do you like your life with me?” Ask it humbly and accept any criticism gracefully. No lip-flapping. Just listen.

Life is a series of moments. Most of them are not spectacular but rather ordinary. There are sad moments, busy moments, happy moments. In What Did You Expect? (a highly recommended read) Paul Tripp says:

“you must have a little-moment approach to your marriage…the quality and character of our life is forged in little moments.”

Why create horrible moments? Instead create an atmosphere of love. Not fake, but unfeigned, with the help of the Holy Spirit. I must constantly drink from that river for more grace so that I might be tenderhearted toward my husband.

Guard your heart and your tongue. Look to the mirror of the word of God every day.

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