Love Is Not A Feeling.

Tonight as we walked out onto the beach, we heard a crowd to our left clap and cheer. It turns out there was a wedding taking place. The most gorgeous, intimate gathering to witness what looked to be a middle aged couple exchanging vows. We laughed about what it would be like to have sandy buttcheeks just beyond your well dressed guests in the wedding photos. But I could tell they didn’t care. This moment didn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Their faces made that clear enough.

Not a half hour later, to the right of us, we watched two girls with red and pink signs and a bouquet of “I Love You” balloons rush to crowd a young guy on one knee before his overjoyed girlfriend. All around them people erupted in applause and cheers just the same as for the married couple on the left.

I looked out at Justin who had carried Savannah to explore the waves crashing as I laid on the sand and read a book. It was no coincidence we were positioned right smack in the middle of these two major life celebrations. To one side of us was the beginning of a journey. Sparkly and new like the engagement ring placed upon a young girl’s finger. So many hopes and eager expectations layered in joy and innocence. To the other side of us was a journey redeemed. I don’t know if this marriage occurred after many long years of loneliness or the pain of divorce. I don’t know how many nights were spent wondering if the right one would ever come. But here they were, old enough to have experienced the weight of the “for better or worse” they now recited, and not at all scared to shout it out anyway.

And then, here were Justin, Savannah and I. Living out the days that exist right in the middle of these two milestones. Messy and yet miraculous. Earning our right to recite those “for better or worse” words all over again. This time knowing full well what they mean. To look each other in the eye and say the raw moments were the foundation to the true romance.

Love is not a feeling, friends. It is a commitment. A decision to grab hold of someone and say “whatever it takes, we’re not letting go. We’ll come through this together and we’ll both be better for it.” Not every moment is one worthy of cheers and celebration, at least not to others gathered around you for it. But, in some strange way, those will be the very moments you find yourself sitting back in the sand and silently cheering yourselves on anyway.

Love endures all things. Vows recited without really knowing what they mean, wedding photos with sandy buttcheeks, the seasons you’re tasked with working through the hard stuff. Happy Valentines Day. Keep going.

(originally written February 13, 2021)