How much is love worth?

How much is love worth?

I had never thought about the question, “How much is love worth?” But one day, when my grandson, Jack,  was small, he asked me about it. He usually came to our house every day, but it was a holiday, and he spent the day at his mother’s house.  The day after the holiday, when he came to my part of the house, I said to him,  “Jack, I really missed you yesterday.” His five-year-old response was, “How much?”

“Well,” I said, I missed you a lot because I love it when you’re here.”

“How much?” he asked again.

“Oh, honey, I missed you a lot because I love you a lot.”

” How much? Can you put a number on it Gramma?”

“What do you mean, Jack?”

“How many numbers did you miss me?”

” I can’t put a number on how much I miss you or how much I  love you, Jack. There just aren’t enough numbers.”

“Oh, O.K.” And off he went to see what his dad was doing.

I’m sure he forgot that conversation, but I didn’t. That was some years ago, and I’m still trying to answer it.

I think of women I have known who said to their husband,  “If you loved me you would buy me …” Or, “if you loved me you would …”

Ideas are not always expressed

Maybe those ideas are not expressed but merely kept in mind. “If she loved me she’d lose weight.” “If he loved me he’d spend more time with me.” The stores encourage us to give diamonds, gold and other expensive gifts to show our love.  Does that mean that the bigger the diamond,  the greater the love? The bigger the house, the greater the love? Does the lack of gifts symbolize the lack of love?

Love is not about that, although the person who loves wants to please the beloved—to make him or her happy, to give things that represent the giving of the heart.  What about acceptance? Love accepts its partner just the way he or she is and does not try to make him or her into something that isn’t authentic.  This thing we call love is about acceptance, respect, and cherishing—even in the rough times.  Love is about forgiveness.  Love goes the extra mile without complaining. It pitches in to help when needed and knows when to back off.  Contrary to what we learned in “Love Story” love is about saying you’re sorry and being the first to make peace.

What IS love anyway?

The Bible says it best in Corinthians 13 :

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails.

As a minister who used to do a lot of weddings, I learned that love that leads to successful, happy marriage involves three entities: him, her and us. She and he must stay who they are as individuals, be true to themselves, allowing change to take place gracefully in self and the other. They don’t try force change or require it in the partner.  And the “us” makes a whole new entity. Love builds this house of “Us”  and fine tunes it over the years of trials, challenges, great times and hard times. They grow as unique individuals, and the “Us” grows together. This is the kind of marriage that lasts.

Here’s a quote that expresses this perfectly:

Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.
– Captain Corelli’s Mandolino’s “Love is the beauty of the soul.”

So how much? How many numbers. What’s the price of love? It is priceless. And I’ll stick to my first answe— there just aren’t enough numbers to express it.

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