Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Tag: Valentine’s Day

Sihouette of couple

How Deep is your Love?

Silouette of close couple

The L word gets tossed around so easily: I love ice cream, I love summer, I love football. I’m at fault for using it flippantly, unfortunately doing so devalues its meaning. As a romance writer, I get to ponder about love daily, but even more so, with Valentine’s day right around the corner. It got me thinking about what the definition of love means to me:

  • Love is a connection, an intimate knowledge of one another, mentally, spiritually, and physically.
  • Love is sacrificing your needs over theirs, and the secure feeling of knowing that if the situation were reversed, they would do the same for you.
  • Love is setting aside pride, grudges, and being right because you value the other person above those things.
  • Love is believing in someone and seeing their potential sometimes, even when they don’t.

The Bible doesn’t leave us in the dark. It tells us specifically in 2 Corinthians 13 what love is and what love isn’t.

Love in scrable letters

Let’s start with what love isn’t.”

  • Love doesn’t envy
  • Love doesn’t boast
  • Love isn’t proud
  • Love doesn’t dishonor others
  • Love isn’t self-seeking
  • Love isn’t easily angered
  • Love keeps no record of wrongs
  • Love doesn’t delight in evil

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs writes in his book Love and Respect about a couple who were given a tour of a brand new home with lots of amenities. The wife without thinking says to her husband in a joking manner, “You need to get a second job.” I can imagine the husband, wife, and homeowners chuckling, but the husband’s smile is a little tight. His wife has no idea she just dishonored and wounded her husband.

In the process of looking for a laugh, we can put our self-seeking desires first and say unkind things that break the trust of our loved ones. In the same way that we flippantly use the term love and devalue its meaning, hurtful words are tossed around that devalue the people we should be protecting.
Now, what love is:

Grandparents holding grandkids
  • Love is patient
  • Love is kind
  • Love rejoices in truth
  • Love always protects
  • Love always trusts
  • Love always hopes
  • Love always preservers
  • Love never fails

Love never fails. I believe the reason the U.S. has a 40% to 50% average divorce rate is that people have forgotten the true definition of love. Read up on what the Bible says about love. Love doesn’t try to catch our spouse, child, or family member doing something wrong. Love tries to catch them doing something right. Love gives the benefit of the doubt. However, it’s more than just a behavior change—it’s a heart condition.

The words always and never aren’t casually added to 2 Corinthians, because our God isn’t haphazard. It means love always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres, and love never fails. You don’t fall in and out of love. It’s more than a whim—even more than a decision. Love is a mandate. God is love, and if we abide in God, then we too should radiate love. We each have an ugly side that rears every now and then, but God has loved us not only despite our ugly sin but also through it. Let that be the example we follow. God pours His unfailing love upon us so that we can do the same.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.             
2 Corinthians 13: 4-8

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Stone art people passing a Valentine

Love Because You Are Loved

Stone art made to look like people passing a Valentine

If you hang up the phone first, then you’re in control of the relationship. I don’t know why I thought this when I first started dating. My husband and I met over summer break during college and continued to date after I went back to school five hours away. Somehow, irrationally, I got it in my head that I could protect my heart from rejection if I could be the first one to say goodnight and get off the phone. The problem was he beat me to it every time. As soon as I’d pause and say “It was good talking—” he’d jump in with, “Yeah, miss you. Talk to you soon,” and then he’d hang up.

I’d stare at the phone gritting my teeth, torn between astonishment and outrage. Anger is often a coverup for a deeper fear—which in my case was rejection. We dated long-distance for two years. In all that time, I never was able to get off the phone before him. But he continued to call and, over time, his love and devotion allayed my fears. Now, I realize just how silly I had been.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18). In my manuscripts, all of my heroines start with a fear:

  • the fear of not being good enough,
  • the fear of not being loved,
  • the fear of rejection,
  • the fear of their past defining their future,
  • the fear of lacking purpose.

We all can relate to these fears in some way because they are real-life struggles. How many of us ever …?

  • Checked our phone wondering if he or she will call you back?
  • Pushed a proposal across the table praying it will be considered?
  • Walked into the class reunion dressed to impress, hoping they won’t remember you as the dorky, shy, or strange kid from third period?

There are a hundred other scenarios. With my stories, somewhere around the midpoint to the last third, the heroine realizes she is loved. It gives her the confidence to drive out fear and leads to the happily-ever-after.

girl dressed as a princess in front of a play castle

Happily-ever-after isn’t just for fairy tales.

My husband says I won’t argue with anyone except for him, and he’s right. I like conflict in my story characters’ lives not in my own. So why would I argue with my husband? Because he loves me. His love has driven out my fear of conflict. I can argue with him knowing he’ll still love me. Most people might not find that romantic, but I do. I love my husband all the more because I have the security to speak my mind.

It is this kind of love that sets us free, not a box of chocolates, nor a bouquet of flowers (even though those are very thoughtful and much appreciated). But love is even bigger than that. We live in freedom without fear because God loves us. His love has removed the sting of death and the guilt of sin. We have confidence in the day of judgment because of Jesus’ sacrifice and his love for us. When we understand the depths of God’s love, fear shrinks back and looses it grip.

His love is so overwhelming, it fills to the brim, overflowing. Not only do we have plenty of love to give away, but we also have the confidence to do so. You’ll see Love Because You Are Loved on my website and in my emails as my tagline. It stems from 1 John 4:18 “Perfect love drives out fear,” and 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.” Because we know he has our best interest a heart, God’s love helps us relinquish the struggle for control. His love gives us freedom from fear and the courage to love one another.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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So, go ahead and love because you are loved!

Bridal bouquet pink

Love Beyond the Grave

I know my title sounds like the name for the next Twilight movie, but bear with me. I came across this magazine article clipping on the internet.

The text reads: “My sweet husband, John, and I were married for 46 years. Each Valentine’s Day, he’d send me the most beautiful flowers containing a note with five simple words: ‘My love for you grows.’ Four children, 46 bouquets and a lifetime of love were his legacy to me when he passed away two years ago.

“On my first Valentine’s Day alone, 10 months after I lost him, I was shocked to receive a gorgeous bouquet addressed to me… from John. Angry and heartbroken, I called the florist to say there had been a mistake. The florist replied, ‘No, ma’am, it’s not a mistake. Before he passed away, your husband prepaid for many years and asked us to guarantee that you’d continue getting bouquets every Valentine’s day.’ With my heart in my throat, I hung up the phone and read the attached card. It said, ‘My love for you is eternal.’”  – Sue Johnston, 68, Houston, TX

Even as I retype this, tears well up in my eyes.

Yet, there is an even greater love story than that of Sue and her husband, John. Let me tell you the story:

Once upon a time, there was a Prince who fell in love with an indentured servant. She resided just outside the castle gates and toiled for her master. The Prince loved her instantly. Despite the squalor in which she lived and the hard callouses on her hands, he saw her inner royalty, so he donned peasant clothing and left the King’s castle to spend time with her.

He offered her his name and protection, but to the servant woman, the Prince’s offer seemed too unbelievable to be true. She feared her master would laugh at the very idea or become enraged. In fact, when her master saw the Prince paying attention to his servant, the master grew angry for he feared the Prince would take his servant from him. To disillusion the woman, master offered her rich food scraps and wine from his table. He misled her with lies that she was too poor, too weak, and too ugly, to ever leave his home. He lured her into his bed, and when he grew tired of her, he cut her hair and sold it to a wig maker. Her appearance now disgusted him, so he sold her to another master to fill his coiffures.

This master was even harsher than the last. However, the Prince’s love for her never diminished. He pursued her to the lowest valley of the region. He asked her to come to his kingdom, become his bride—his princess, but she couldn’t meet his gaze. She stared at her dirty bare feet and the rags draping over her abused frame. Shame rooted her to the spot.

The Prince wasn’t deterred and asked her master the price of her freedom. The evil master saw his opportunity to thwart the king. He told the Prince the only way for her to gain her liberty was for the Prince to take her place. The Prince immediately removed his signet ring and slid it onto her finger. He covered her rags with his royal robe. The evil master had his men seize the Prince and beat him until he was bloodied, raw, and barely recognizable. They strung him up in the main road for passersby to witness and scoff at his humiliation.

Word reached the King who arrived with a vast army. He lowered his son to the ground and clasped his son’s battered body in his arms. The Prince’s eyes remained steadfast on his beloved. With the last of his ebbing strength, he stretched out his hand in her direction as his hoarse voice scratched out his final words, “Father, I have paid for her with my life. She is now your daughter. Love her as you would love me.” 

This is our love story. We are the servant woman, and Jesus is our Prince. His unfathomable love has no end. Because of his infinite love, He endured a humiliating torturous death, to pay our debt, to set us free, so that we can be welcomed into His family. One day He is going to once again ride out of heaven this time on a white horse. He’s coming to collect His bride—His eternal love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Bridal bouquet pink

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