I originally came across this great little story in August of 2007. In composing and posting today’s 2nd Cup, I was reminded of it several times. That usually means a few of you need its insights again. I probably do, too. I want to share it and some time-modified comments with you as Valentine’s Day approaches. Please–read on. . .
Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived: Happiness, Sadness, Knowledge, and all of the others–including Love. One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all repaired their boats and left.
Love wanted to persevere until the last possible moment. When the island was almost sinking, Love decided to ask for help. Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said, “Richness, can you take me with you?” Richness answered, “No, I can’t. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There is no place here for you.”
Love decided to ask Vanity who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel: “Vanity, please help me!” “I can’t help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat,” Vanity answered.
Sadness was close by so Love asked for help: “Sadness, let me go with you.” “Oh….Love, I—I’m so sad that I just need to be by myself!” Happiness passed by Love, too, but she was so giddy and preoccupied that she didn’t even hear when Love called her.
Suddenly, there was a calm voice: “Come, Love, I will take you.” It was an elder. Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that he forgot to ask the elder his name. When they arrived at dry land, the elder went his own way.
Love realized how much he owed the elder and asked another elder, Knowledge: “Who was that who helped me?” “That was Time,” Knowledge answered. “Time?” asked Love. “But why did Time help me when no one else would?” Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, “Because only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is.”
People will forget everything you say; and people will forget most of what you do—but people will never forget how you made them feel. And therein lies the magic of this 2nd Cup originally shared in February of 2007.
Love takes time to mature. Think of Knowledge’s potent words: “. . . only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is.” If over the passage of years what you feel towards another has shifted from GottaBeAroundEm24/7 to HideMeIt’sHim/HerAgain, that might not be Love, love. It’s entirely possible you are experiencing gastroenterological events. Listening, young ones? 7 minutes does not a marriage make (7 minutes being the average time between TV commercials, you understand). 7 years is just getting started. You may well have grown up believing life’s norm to be the dissolving of any nonthriving relationship. Guess what? All relationships occasionally hit a patch of maintenance and coasting. It’s normal to the ebb and flow of any human interaction. Nevertheless, quitting isn’t the norm. Perseverance is. Love takes time to mature. If over the passage of years what you feel towards another has shifted from mild appreciation to a dawning awareness that to lose personal contact with that person would carve a huge hole in your heart–well, now that there’s LUV, love. It’s the real deal, on-purpose, Time-proven; the stuff of great friendships and terrific marriages.
“. . . only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is.”
I wonder how long it took Love, standing there with eyes unfocused, to understand what a huge compliment the brilliantly-influential Time had paid him? Do you understand? Given the choice to be Love or Time, most would choose Love. What’s not to love about Love? Everybody loves to be loved. “How sweet it is to be loved by you… “I need your love— I need your love— God speed your love to me.” Less by far are those who choose over time to create Lovers in their wake. . . That’s what Time was doing.
Time isn’t an elder by virtue of age. Time’s an elder because he has established his own niche: Time is a creator of champion lovers. Wherever Time goes and whatever else may be his task, he is forever and always alert, watching for those into whose lives he can pour some of himself and his own ever-widening dimensions of love for others.
And Time’s focus is precise. His intent is to create within the hearts of any who will pay attention to who and what he is an extension of himself.
How often do you need to hear someone tell you they believe in you before you begin believing in yourself again? There is no easy answer, for some never do believe in themselves to the point they climb above where they’ve been and begin moving toward personal and spiritual excellence.
And how often do you need to hear “I love you” before you start loving yourself again? Once more, not an easy thing. Some never do escape their own loveless gravity and allow the love of someone else in until they can shock their own into beating again.
How often do I need to tell you I believe in you? And how often do I need to tell you I love you? As often as you need to hear it. And what happens when you are so fed up hearing it that you snap and bite in response? That’s when one must allow the silence to replay the last things you heard in your mind.
Does that guarantee you’ll ever believe, that you’ll begin to love yourself again?
No. No guarantees accrue. You are the sum of your own choices. It can be disarmingly easy to emplace landmines, calibrate laser tripwires, install infrared sensors and just keep everyone at attitude’s-length. It is possible to live an entire lifetime convinced that your perpetual loneliness and surface-deep friendships is the way you always intended to live. It also will eventually push away the very ones that Time will reveal were your best allies.
Time is a creator of champion lovers. Time softens locked jaws and impacted notions. Time reveals that things are rarely what they seem. Like a laser, it will soon sear straight through nonsense and popular opinion. Time is a creator of champion lovers, because “only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is.”
If you’re like me, this will take awhile to soak down into the richness of the kind of Love for ourselves and for others that far too many have given up ever experiencing again. My challenge to you is the same one I meet in my mirror: dare to become an elder who steers young and idealistic Love away from The 7-Minute Dazzles to a lifelong steadiness that redefines what real Love has always been. See 1 Corinthians 13 in the Bible.
Oh–and seek Wisdom as you do. Loving people who are not always lovely is no simple task. It can be overdone or underdone, and often both. Sometimes your best won’t work and your worst will, and only Time and prayer will ever make a difference. And sometimes people choose to walk away from God, and your best isn’t enough, and “Good-bye” is forever. That doesn’t mean loving others doesn’t work. Sometimes the most loving thing you’ll ever do is to watch them go and never call them back.
I encourage you to love anyway. Become a creator of champion lovers–men and women who dare to run counter to the vapid, lip-deep, politically-advantageous and cynical “love” tossed around by the world and way too much of the Church.
How? One of the ways I’m addressing my single 2007 resolution is to ask God to help me love others more like He does. I actually asked Him to help me with that. Oh, boy. . . To do that, He began revealing things about others to me, little by little, which made me at times back away–and every time He gently said, “Remember? You want to love others more like I do. I remind you: I know EVERYTHING about you and I love you with everything there is in Me.” Well, there is that. God brought to mind this verse:
Oh, how can I give you up …? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you … My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows… for I am God and not a mere mortal.
(Hosea 11:8-9 NLT)
Valentine’s Day, huh? I’d rather love those who love me back. I, like most people, heartily dislike rejection. It is way too easy to mentally write off those who cut-and-slash. But if I am serious about loving like God does, I can’t do that. Neither can you.
So, I challenge you–work to become a creator of champion lovers by being one yourself, patterned after the greatest Lover of all eternity. And while there’s Time? Well. . .
“Only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is.”
I love you, and I believe in you–because He does.