How about it? Valentine’s Day is right around the corner once more. Stores are loaded with red and pink hearts, sweet chocolates and red roses as gifts to loved ones to show how dear they are to you.
So what really is love? Where does it come from? Who designed the beautiful bond of love and the amazing power of it? Does love last in a long-term perspective? I’ll give you my thoughts on these questions in this column. But first, do the Amish allow divorce? To us, it is not an option. Our endeavor is to live in unity to a degree that there is no desire to be severed from our spouses.
I’ll give you part of our story of when love began between Daniel (who is now my husband) and me.
I was 17 years old when I got to know him. Our mothers had known one another for years. Even though we didn’t personally talk with each other, I sensed that he was a respectful young man who loved the Lord. My 19th birthday had just passed when he asked me to begin a special friendship with him. I was surprised, yet excited. I felt so unworthy. At first it almost felt unreal that a godly young man loved me, was praying for me and seeking my friendship. It all seemed too good to be happening to me. Time and again, he hired a driver and traveled from Danville, Ohio, to Flat Rock, Illinois, to spend time with me as we visited, prayed and studied the Bible together. We got to know one another on a deeper level.
I sensed his love and commitment to me, which in return motivated me to honor and respect him. After 15 months of courtship, we had one of the most special days of our lives as we were united in marriage.
Now I’ve had the question, “What does it really take to have love that lasts?” I’m not referring to the type of relationship where a couple simply tolerates each other after several years of marriage but, instead, at the age of 70, there is still a glow in their eyes and a warm smile as they look at their companions, the ones whom they have loved through thick and thin for the last 50 years. What really takes place in the hearts of a couple with this kind of enduring love? There are no two people exactly alike, so undoubtedly no one is exempt from facing challenges.
And I am yet to find a perfect person. Yes, we all have weaknesses. Now, what is going to happen when we fail one another? Will we cling to our right to be frustrated and feel cheated or will we simply tell God that we choose to forgive our spouses and that they don’t owe us anything? Even though it may feel extremely difficult, which of these paths will ultimately lead to joy and unity?
It’s been close to six years that Daniel and I have been married, and we’ve had many wonderful times together, yet we’ve also had times where we needed God’s grace and forgiveness to work through our differences. At our wedding, someone shared a thought that has been valued by us. It was something like this: If your spouse tells you anything negative about you, never take that as an opportunity to return a negative about the other.
Something that we have found to be a tremendous asset in our marriage is to genuinely be out for the absolute good of the other, even if it means making personal sacrifices to do so. Along with that is the concept of understanding how your spouse feels, not just listening to what he or she is saying. Asking detailed questions about how he or she feels about any given situation can clear up many misunderstandings.
Ultimately, if Jesus is our foundation (Luke 6: 47-49) we can be assured that we will be blessed with a strong marriage. With the Lord as the founder, we will rest in His divine love, which enables us to freely love our imperfect partners.
Now for the question you may have of whether the Amish celebrate Valentine’s Day? The answer would vary dramatically from one community to the next. For Daniel and me, it is a special day to celebrate our love for each other by exchanging cards or doing any extraordinary act of kindness. Last night, Daniel admitted he had a plan of something he’d like to do but, of course, he refuses to give me details. I’m eager to see what he has up his sleeve. He certainly managed to get me curious, that is for sure.
How about trying out my husband’s favorite bars? Actually, I think candy bars would be a better name for them. I plan to make them for Daniel on Valentine’s Day and use the chocolate chips to spell a special message. These bars are absolutely delicious and you may use whatever flavor baking chips you prefer. This is Daniel’s favorite version:
HUBBY’S DELIGHT BARS
1 cup flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup pecans (optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Combine everything except topping ingredients and pat into 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Sprinkle with pecans. Melt butter over medium heat and add brown sugar and syrup. Boil one minute and then pour over unbaked crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup butterscotch chips and chocolate chips immediately upon removing from the oven.
Cool and enjoy.