“All’s fair in love and war” … or so goes the old saying that traces back to John Lyly’s Euphues written in 1578. For centuries, the adage has granted individuals license to cheat on the battlefields of ground and heart.
Ironically, any solider who has fought for his or her country will tell you that there is nothing fair about war. No matter the reasons for entering a fight, terror and ugliness abound savagely. But I’ll leave the subject of war for other writers to discuss. Love now weighs heavily on my mind.
Contrary to Lyly’s famous line, the only commonality I know that exists between love and war is that neither is fair. Yet, unlike war, it is the unfairness component of love that can add unfathomable beauty.
Love, in its purest, sacrificial form has never been fair. I don’t think it was designed to be fair. As God sculpted Adam from the fresh earth, He knew that His most glorious creation would break His heart. Yet still, God breathed man to life. It was not fair, but the beauty surrounding such love cannot be denied.
When the world knew only darkness and despair, God sent hope in the form of His son, Jesus Christ. The sinless man and true embodiment of love was scorned, spat upon, rejected, beaten, and killed by a method that glorified cruelty as sport. The image of my sweet Savior nailed to a brutal cross swells a lump in my throat. It was the greatest atrocity committed by mankind, one in which I bear some of the blame.
It. Was. Not. Fair.
But the beauty … the stunning, breath-stealing beauty pouring from such sacrifice cannot be denied.
Fourteen years ago this week, my life changed when my boyfriend of only four months sent me on an elaborate treasure hunt that ended with him on bended knee. The night I agreed to be his wife, as well as during the wedding-planning months that followed, delusions of fairness occupied an enormous space of my mental real estate. And as we exchanged vows, slivers of cake and many kisses I envisioned all the bliss the next fifty years could possibly hold. Oh, I knew that our life together wouldn’t be perfect, but I was confident that it would at least be fair.
Less than two weeks after my wedding day, I learned that my previous notions were laughable. Fifty-fifty? Equal give-and-take? Those are just good-intentioned, but flawed concepts. Our marriage experienced illnesses that rattled our faith, emotional pain that rammed us to our knees and losses that ransacked our haven. Not only did life hit us with some unjust blows, we also dealt each other some unscrupulous punches. That’s what human beings sometimes do when life gets gritty. We mess up. We make mistakes. We get angry with each other. We cause unwarranted pain.
My marriage is not and has never been fair, but it is worth fighting for and it does hold beauty that cannot be denied.
Arms open to embrace one in need of forgiveness … beautiful.
Fingers entwined as a new life swallows her first gulps of air … beautiful.
Tears cried for the one who aches … beautiful.
Hands steadying the one whose body is ravaged by pain … beautiful.
Laughter echoing throughout corridors … beautiful.
Feet that stumble as they walk a rugged path, but also glide as they dance … beautiful.
Lips that touch softly as evidence to both passion and commitment … beautiful.
Love. Unbridled, agape love, a love that is taught by its Creator, is not fair. But its glorious beauty cannot be denied.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13: 1-3 (NIV)