Love is boring.
Really, it is, and it hit me recently as my four year old complained while I brushed his teeth. “I know it hurts,” I said, “and I’m sorry about that, but if I don’t do a good job brushing then the owies won’t go away.”
That’s when I said the kicker, “I have to brush your teeth like this because I love you.”
Wow, that’s not what I thought about love as I was growing up. I mean, really, I brush teeth because of love? When I dreamed about my future wife and children, not once did I think about brushing anyone’s teeth. I don’t know, maybe you did, but I didn’t.
No, I never thought about brushing teeth. I also never thought of love in terms of grocery shopping. I never thought of love that looks like doctor’s appointments. Or changing diapers. Or making meals. Or teaching school. Or washing dishes, cleaning the house, or doing laundry. Or the sleeplessness that comes from chasing away bad dreams.
I never thought of love as any of those things. In fact, the mundane, every-day actions that family requires to thrive never even crossed my mind, yet what I have learned is that these are the most important actions that love takes.
These love-driven actions are so important because they are what make life happen. As I told my son, if I don’t brush his teeth, the pain gets worse and eventually his teeth would rot right out of his mouth. If I didn’t make food for my kids, they would starve. If I didn’t clean the house, our health would suffer and we might end up on the TV show Hoarders. Even training my children to do these things for themselves is an act of love because it equips them for powerful independence.
My relationship with my wife is no different. We may not have to brush each other’s teeth, but the cleaning and maintenance of the home still expresses love. Small words throughout the day matter. The tone with which I speak and what I communicate with my facial expressions carry immense weight and can cross a huge chasm between love and indifference.
It all comes together to communicate one message: I care. You matter to me. You are important in my life and I will adjust my life to care for your needs and what is important to you.
Even when it’s monotonous. Even when it’s boring. Because that’s what love looks like.
Yes, love does have its firework-like moments and I think they’re wonderful. But for the sake of my family, I can’t afford to live only for those moments. Even more, I can’t afford to think that love disappears in between the firework bursts. I can’t allow myself to limit my definition of love to just those sometimes-fleeting moments when love feels like what I always thought it would be as I dreamed of family.
Let me say it more clearly. This firework-moments idea of love is called Hopeless Romanticism, and boy, I was the king of that growing up. And again, I’m not saying that the fireworks are bad! They just can’t sustain life in your relationships.
Why not? Well, if I don’t expand my definition of love to the faithful execution of the mundane things of life, then when someone does those things for me I won’t feel loved. I’ll be more likely to take it for granted and less likely to be thankful for those most significant relationships in my life.
I might also begin to do those mundane things begrudgingly, out of obligation. “Well, someone has to do this for them because it just has to be done,” could crowd out thoughts of joyful thankfulness for my family. Instead of seeing opportunities to love, I only see demands that need met. Instead of being in charge of my love, I’m a slave to my circumstances.
All because of one little change in how I posture my heart.
Love really is boring. Consider that by the time Israel reached the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership, they had eaten manna for more than fourteen thousand six hundred days. Let me tell you—anything becomes mundane after you’ve seen it fourteen thousand times.
Yet God was intentional in this because He knew His daily faithfulness would prove His trustworthiness, so that as two million people stood on the edge of their new home they would believe Him when He said, “Don’t be afraid of those who will fight you, because I will fight for you so that you win every time.”
The mundane made room for the fireworks. The boring laid the foundation for the big stuff. It was true for God and Israel and it’s true for you and your family.
Will you embrace boring love today? It’s quite possibly your first step toward a more joyful and life-full family.