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Fill-in-the-Blank Love

Mother HeartFather’s Day was approaching, so I printed out a set of “coupon cards” my kids could give their father. They included promises like:

  • “Good for One Hug”
  • “Good for helping around the yard with dad”
  • “Good for helping dad take the trash out.”

One coupon, however, consisted of blank lines. Choose your own gift. One of my kids wrote, “Take out the laundry.” One filled in, “Cook dinner when you are feeling tired or not.”

But one of my kids asked, “Mommy, is it okay if I leave the lines blank, without filling anything in?” I didn’t understand what he meant and asked him to clarify. “I mean, can Daddy put what he wants in the blanks?”

“That’s a great idea,” I told him. So that’s what he did.

And I wondered, Is that ever what my love looks like? For my children? For my husband? For my friends? For God?

Fill-in-the-blank love. Not, “On my terms, when I have time … and it’s got to be my idea.” But love that allows the other person to fill in the blanks. Reading a story to my son when I’d rather read something I’m more interested in (not involving vehicles). Biking with my daughter when it’s a little too hot outside for my comfort. Visiting a friend when I feel like a hermit and would prefer to stay home. Watching a Saturday-night movie with my husband when I’ve reached the second-to-the-last chapter of a thrilling page-turner.

Fill-in-the-blank love. That trusts the unspoken power of giving to create and build and maintain a relationship. Any relationship. I read somewhere recently that love is an outcropping of faith. In other words, love is the fruit of faith. Plant faith. Plant trust. Reap love.

It takes trust to give a loved one fill-in-the-blank power over you.

But maybe that’s what love really is. Hazarding the unknown and plodding through the mundane, together.

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