.extravagant.love.

November 21 of 2008 was a pretty significant day for me.

I came home from student teaching, just like any other day.  Sat down and watched Gilmore Girls after classes, just like any other day.  But somewhere around 5:00 that evening, this ordinary day became completely extraordinary.  In fact, it became the first day of the rest of my life.

I remember the air that night being cold and crisp, and yet when a blue Elantra pulled into my driveway, I ran out barefoot with no jacket to meet the driver.  He was tall and dark and handsome, and when he wrapped his arms around me and squeezed tight, he smelled and felt like home. 

And we had the most ordinary weekend.  Sipping coffee and eating pasta and baking cookies and watching movies and reading books.  Talking about life and sharing life and loving life.

That Friday night, by the time my head hit the pillow, I had this soul-deep inkling that I quite possibly never wanted to be with anyone else, ever again.  By Sunday morning when I watched him drive away, I had no doubt that his heart was an answer to prayers I’d been praying for years.  A few days short of a year after that, our dear friend and pastor, Rustin, asked him if he would have me as his lawfully wedded wife, and he replied, “Fo sho.”

Joshua Hibbs is my home down here.  I have never been so comfortable with anyone else in my entire life; and yet, no one’s ever pushed me harder to become a better woman.  He is my very best friend. 

And, even more than all that, he is the closest thing I get down here to a tangible representation of the way Christ loves His church and, thereby, me.  And what I have come to know of Christ is that He loves me with a love that is nothing short of everything.  A love that is so uncalled-for that it is nearly ridiculous.  A love that’s appropriately described by words like “lavish” and “extravagant.”

And sometimes, I confess that my love for Josh and his for me may come across as that borderline-ridiculous display.  I take great delight in showering him with love and affection in my words and actions.  And he’s unbelievably faithful to do the same.  And, sadly enough, the response from Christian couples we’re surrounded by generally sounds something like, “Give it a year,” and “You guys are giving all us old married people a bad name.”  And I’m pretty sure we’re not the only newly married couple who’s heard that.

And it’s always said with a tone of jest…but some deeply rooted truth.  And what concerns me is this: this is what we’re supposed to be shooting for? This is what we’re to emulate? We’re just supposed to sit around and wait for mediocrity to become the expected standard? I mean, I get it, guys…life happens and things get busy and feelings have natural highs and lows.  But it just keeps coming back to me that Jesus actively demonstrated His love for us on a level that was in no way easy or convenient or cheap on his part.  And if our love for our spouse is to mirror His love for us? WOW, that’s a high calling.  And it takes away from me all excuses to not love my husband well.  Love is likely not love if it doesn’t cost you something, if it’s always neatly packaged for your own personal happiness and convenience.  I think we get so busy with the ins and outs of life that we stop feeling love; and we forget that even when we don’t feel love, we can still DO love.  Love is much more an action than a feeling.

And here’s what I know: I know that this world has its fair share of things in it that could be described as uncalled-for and ridiculous and lavish and extravagant.  Unfortunately, most of the things in our culture that could be labeled with those words are signs of a fallen generation.  Can we take a step back from ourselves for a second, long enough to BE salt and light? Long enough to put our candle on a hill that’s worth dying on? I feel like we’ve been given a huge gift here, this chance to represent the way Christ loves in the way we love each other, starting with the people closest to us.

My challenge is this: take a moment tomorrow to openly, extravagantly love someone.  Whether it’s your spouse or child or parent or friend.  Take the time to lavish love on someone the way Christ has lavished it on you.  I have this crazy dream that these might be the small things that reveal a living God to a dying world.

And I’m going to continue telling the world through words and actions of my answered prayers and my ever-deepening love and respect for the man I married.

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