We are now in the month of February. It’s the month of love. It’s the month when lovers express their feelings for each other and typically the month when we begin Lent, the greatest season of love in the Church. It can be a cold month, when this part of the world can be blanketed in snow, when much of nature is dormant or dead, and when the sun is often obscured by clouds or rain or snow. I think it’s also a month of hope, a month of looking forward to spring, the month when vacations and summer camps are planned and colleges are chosen. It’s a month to love and be loved. American journalist Linda Ellerbee once said, “In the coldest February, as in every other month in every other year, the best thing to hold on to in this world is each other.” The power of love will get us through the coldest of times. It is the greatest force in the universe.
On those winter nights when snow falls silently in a barren world, it’s easy to desire nothing more than to crawl into a hole and retreat from everyone. I say, like Ellerbee observed, that it is at those times, when we feel the coldest, that we should reach out to others, pull them to us, and love them fiercely. It is the power of love which creates the warmth we so desperately need, and I don’t mean just on that one day of year that comes in the middle of this month.
We live in a world that seems to believe that love is nothing more than the sugary-sweet outcome of a Hallmark movie, but true love is so much more than that! True love is the food of the soul, the opening of the mind, and the completeness of the body. It is a powerful thing indeed.
Ken and I got engaged in February–February 13, 1993. We had decided that we wanted to have formal pictures done, so we got dressed up for a photo shoot and dinner afterward. While we’d talked about marriage, I didn’t know when, where, or how our actual engagement would take place. I was truly surprised when, between the photos and dinner, Ken got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. We were so young then, barely adults, and hardly knew what we were pledging to each other when he presented and I accepted the ring I still wear today. It has not always been easy, and I’ve gone to bed angry more than once (don’t lecture me–that’s what I need to do to get myself past whatever has upset me). We’ve had our share of fights, but we’ve had so many more joys. After twenty-eight years of marriage, I wouldn’t change a minute of it. That’s the power of love.
“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get–only with what you are expecting to give–which is everything.” –Katherine Hepburn
Why is love so powerful? Because it flies in the face of everything our world professes to be true. It is totally and completely selfless. Only when we die to self and live for another can we achieve true love. The Catholic Church defines love as “willing the good of another.” It sounds so simple, yet it can be the hardest thing we do in life. To spend our days only wanting what is best for another person does not feel normal. It feels as though it goes against our nature. It feels wrong. And that kind of thinking is where love loses all meaning.
If you live your life for another, you know what happens? That other can’t help but live his or her life for you. When you are truly selfless, truly willing only the best for another, truly doing all that you can to help that person achieve real happiness, you will feel the power of love reciprocated back to you. This isn’t becoming a doormat. It isn’t giving up your own dreams or forgetting who you are. It’s the ability to see beyond yourself, to love unfailingly, and to keep the rewards. Love is looking into the eyes of another and seeing your own feelings mirrored back to you.
Living as a servant or doormat is not selfless love. It is not dying to self for another, for it is not reciprocated. True love should always be a reflection of what you are giving. Likewise, if you are not giving that strong, steady, faithful love to another, he or she cannot give it back to you. Aristotle said, “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” We need to treat each other as though we are one in the same, for through the power of love, we are.
“Where there is love there is life.” –Mahatma Gandhi
Almost three years to the day that Ken proposed–February 12, 1996–we welcomed Rebecca Kathleen into our lives. Oh, the power of that love! To conceive and give birth to another human being out of love is to participate with God in the act of creation. There is nothing that can compare to the love between a parent and child except the love of God for all of us. It is awesome, to say the very least. Talk about dying to oneself! For the next eighteen years, and even beyond that, one denies herself over and over and over again to give a child all that he or she needs. How many mothers go without–without food, without sleep, without peace, without time, without solitude–for the love of a child? Why do we do this? It’s the power of love.
Zelda Fitzgerald once said, “Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold.” I thought I could never love another more than I loved Ken, and then we had Rebecca. I remember, three years later, crying myself to sleep because I knew that I could never love anyone else as much as I love her. I was so wrong. There is no capacity for the amount of love within the heart. With the birth of Katie Ann and then Morgan, the heart I was afraid would explode from trying to love too much, expanded to hold more love than I ever imagined. Once agin, this is the power of love.
“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” –Victor Hugo
Love is willing the good another, and sometimes it’s loving the unlovable. There are times we will need to remind ourselves of that powerful love we felt in the beginning. Sometimes we need to forgive and forget. Sometimes we need to remember that none of us is perfect. And often times, those reminders need to be directed toward our own behavior.
I don’t know about you, but I screw up a lot. A LOT. I screw up with my husband, with my children, with my parents, with my fiends, and with God. I blurt out things I should never say. I get frustrated or impatient when I should be kind and compassionate. I yell and argue and fight against what I know is right. Yet somehow, I am still loved. I am loved by my family. I am loved by my closest friends. I am loved by God. Oh, that power of love!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” –John 3:16
At the conclusion of this month, we will begin preparing for the season of Lent. We will spend 40 days trying to become better people, better lovers, better parents, better children, better friends, and better Christians. Why do we do this? So that we can sacrifice and suffer be made worthy of the greatest and most powerful love of all. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Though we may never obtain that level of love on as grand a scale as actual physical death, we still need to die to self, to live for others, to will the good of another. We must take into our hearts, minds, and souls, the magnitude of God’s love and try as best we can to give that love to others. For in all of life, as in marriage, we must be mirrors of God’s love.
May you spend this month of February realizing the power of love and sharing it with those around you, and may you see the reflection of that love in your lives. Love should always make you say, “I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you” (Roy Croft). Love makes us bigger, stronger, lovelier, bolder, and more powerful. True love makes us who we are.
Come see Amy on one of these dates:
March 9, 2022 – Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, Wayne, PA 6:00PM – Lenten Reflection
April 9, 2022 – First Landing Wine and Arts Festival, St. Clement’s Island Museum, Clements, MD
June 4, 2022 – Christ Church 350th Anniversary Fair, Broomes Island, MD
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. The Good Wine, the sequel to Whispering Vines was released in June of 2021. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s chapter book is The Greatest Gift, and her most recent suspense novel is Summer’s Squall.
Amy’s second book in the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, was awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019. Amy’s book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain begins her new Buffalo Springs series. Book two, Under the Summer Moon, was released in December of 2021.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020), The Good Wine (2021), Under the Summer Moon (2021).
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