January 28, 2022

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

A lesson about icebergs and love, and a goodbye to readers

Patti LambRecently, I received two “save the date” invitations for weddings in May and July. The couples are giddy with excitement and busy planning the details of their special days. It’s refreshing to witness dating couples being so delighted about committing to spend the rest of their earthly existence together.

Along those lines, Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and the store shelves are chock-full of cards, candy, bouquets of gorgeous flowers and stuffed animals.

So many folks are celebrating love—and it’s beautiful. They make it look so easy. Today, however, I’m writing with a message for those who don’t feel like they are members of “the love club.” If you’re not enjoying personal and emotional fulfillment in a relationship, you are not alone. I feel like it’s my obligation to speak up here.

I’m learning that authentic love requires work—hard work. Sometimes that work means compromise and navigating through life’s storms. Genuine love is repeatedly giving grace and accepting it.

In one of my favorite passages from a book titled Mindset, author Carol Dweck states it eloquently, in my opinion.

“A no-effort relationship is a doomed relationship, not a great relationship. It takes work to communicate accurately, and it takes work to expose and resolve conflicting hopes and beliefs. It doesn’t mean there is no ‘they lived happily ever after,’ but it’s more like, ‘They worked happily ever after.’ ”

The author’s words provided validation about my feelings. Occasionally, I think we all need to be reminded that love isn’t necessarily manifested in roses, romance, jewelry and exotic trips.

Shouldn’t people in relationships be getting along swimmingly with no bumps or hiccups—like a fairy tale?

The answer I hear in my heart is “no.” The way I see it, those who make love look easy and romantic and blissful (especially on social media) aren’t telling the whole story.

I saw an excellent illustration of an iceberg and at the tip was “love.” That tip of the iceberg is obviously all we can see, and underneath were a hundred other words about what is also part of love that we don’t see. I couldn’t find the graphic, but I created my own so you get the idea.

Above the waterline of my love iceberg, you see what you see.

Underneath the waterline are things you don’t see, such as: moments when we just need to walk away before we say something we can’t take back; gratitude; fervent prayer; inside jokes; attempting to acquire the recipe for your husband’s favorite Keto dish at a local Italian restaurant; respecting boundaries; paint selection color fails (after the room was painted with two coats); the ride home from Riley Hospital that night after the kids’ eye surgeries; time spent with God together and alone; the three-level house flood of 2018; three broken ribs; sequestering a bird that unexpectedly flew into the house between a window screen and a lamp shade just before midnight; saying I’m sorry; the grace of the sacrament of matrimony; working on a science fair project with your child until 1 a.m.; constant help from God to be at the center of the relationship. … That’s just to name some.

If each of us were to draw a “love” iceberg, they would all look extremely different. That’s because there’s much below the surface of love as we see it without context. What I hope to convey is that love is hard—it’s not as whimsical as a stroll through the Valentine aisle at Target might suggest. But it’s worth putting in the work. God knows our hearts, and he sees everything below the tips of our icebergs. The best course of action is to invite God to be the divine third in relationships, especially those in which we struggle.

Friends, this is my last regular column. It’s been a pleasure during these past 13 years to write and reflect on finding God’s presence among us in simple ways on ordinary days. This has been a difficult decision, especially because of kind readers with whom I’ve connected or old friends with whom I’ve reconnected through “It’s All Good.” Between obligations at work and home, however, this timing seems best to focus my energy on an expanding role at work, and to make the most of my time with the family.

With appreciation, good wishes and prayers for God’s blessings on each of you, Patti.

(Patti Lamb is a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield.)

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