I’m re-reading C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity for our Tuesday morning men’s Bible study here at Legacy. Today’s chapter on “Christian Marriage” was centered on the promises we make — to God, to the Church, to our families, to the witnesses, to ourselves, and to our spouses — when we get married. The vows.
He focuses, of course, on the permanence of marriage. He refers to divorce as “something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation…it is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment.”
But my real interest lies in the distinction he makes beween “being in love” and “doing love.” He doesn’t use that term, “doing love.” That’s mine. What I hope it communicates is that love is a verb, not a feeling. It’s an action, not an emotion. Here’s Lewis:
The promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things I can do, about actions; no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.
Love is not merely a feeling. It’s more honestly realized and experienced in the doing.
I recall a huge fight Carrie-Anne and I had in our first year of marriage. We were going at it. Raising our voices. Saying things to each other we shouldn’t have been saying. We yelled and screamed at each other in that little rent house on Magnolia Lane in Pampa to the point that there was nothing else to say. And we both went into that silent mode. We didn’t talk to each other for several hours. She in one part of the house, me in another. Upset. Mad. Not liking each other at all.
And then when dinner time rolled around, Carrie-Anne started cooking. For an hour, she made dinner. You would think she was making dinner only for herself. That’s what I was assuming, too. It would only make sense. I was being a punk. Why would she cook a meal for me? I was on my own. That’s what I fully expected. And then she brought me a plate. A hot meal. A really delicious meal. She didn’t say anything, but she made my dinner and served me. My heart was broken by her act of kindness. At that moment Carrie-Anne was not in love with me. But she still loved me. She showed me that love, that fidelity, that proof of her vows, by taking care of me, looking out for my best interests. She loved me with a verb. She was doing love.
And I fell in love with her all over again. And we talked and kissed and prayed and made up.
I can’t remember for the life of me what we were fighting about that day. I have no idea. But I’ll never, ever, forget Carrie-Anne’s act of love for me right in the middle of it. It changed my life. It changed my outlook. It radically impacted the ways I treat her.
We’re still in love. Not the crazy excitement of the in love that you feel the day before your wedding. As C. S. Lewis says, who could bear to live like that for even five years? No. Our love is much better than that now. Our love is manifest in the doing of thoughtful and gracious deeds, an active love that seeks the other’s best interests. It is a “deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.”
It’s not pefect. But it is underpinned by our growing understanding and appreciation of love as an action verb.
There are 54 days left until the Cowboys kick off their historic 50th NFL season. I’m sure there’s a commemorative patch out there that they’ll wear on their shoulders all year. I haven’t seen it yet or read about it anywhere. Does anybody have any info on that? Will the patch, will the team, pay more homage to the new stadium than to the 50 years of Cowboys history? My money’s on the new stadium being prominently featured in whatever patch they’ve designed. As my dad says, “hide and watch.” (I still have no idea what that means.)
As we count down the long summer days to that first game against the Bucs in Tampa Bay on September 13, we recognize the second-best players in Cowboys history according to jersey number. And while the debate usually centers on the merits of second and third and fourth best players, with the top player generally being very obvious, that is not the case today. The Cowboys have employed two of the best #54s of all time.
And the KK&C Red Ribbon Review is going with Chuck Howley as the second-best.
Howley was drafted out of West Virginia in the first round of the 1959 draft by the Bears, the seventh selection overall. After two seasons in Chicago, Howley retired from football with an injured knee and, incredibly, began working at a gas station near Wheeling. The expansion Cowboys, desperate for any kind of help, called Howley and worked out a deal with the Bears in which Howley would attempt a comeback in Dallas.
Howley went on to play 13 superstar seasons with the Cowboys. He was an integral part of Landry’s Doomsday Defense, taking the Cowboys to two NFL Championship Games and two Super Bowls. As a super-quick and super-strong outside linebacker who played sideline to sideline, Howley was highly respected by his peers as a five-time All-Pro and a six-time Pro Bowler. In the Cowboys first ever Super Bowl appearance, Howley collected two interceptions and forced a fumble, earning him game MVP honors. He’s still the only Super Bowl MVP to be named from the losing team.
Howley was the fourth Cowboy inducted into the team’s famed Ring of Honor. He’s the one against whom all Cowboys outside linebackers are measured. And he’s still only the second-best #54 in Cowboys history.
I’m borrowing from Kipi’s blog while she’s at Three Mountain taking pictures of the Legacy kids at camp. If you want to see pictures of your children, click here. If you just want to see pictures of mine, click here.