By Libbo Crosswhite
Great Big Love
Oh sweet February. It seems we can’t go anywhere without a reminder of Valentine’s Day. Giant teddy bears and ridiculous amounts of candy fill the aisles so that we can show someone that we care enough about them to spend $49.99 at Kroger on the night of February 13th.
I will never forget my first Valentine’s Day with Clay. We were in the 9th grade and his mom drove him to my house to bring me flowers. When I opened the door, all I could see was the enormous bouquet of (what I thought) was a dozen roses. Before I could say anything, he quickly popped his head around the flowers and chimed in, “They were on sale—there’s only 11 of them.” Junior high love is the real deal, people.
If we’re honest, there is a part of all of us that longs for a great, elaborate act of love to fill the deep rooted void of our hearts. There will always be this part of us that constantly seeks to be affirmed and be shown these big acts of love.
I had the pleasure of attending Passion in Atlanta, Georgia, with a group of our seniors from MRA during the recent holiday. A Christian mega-conference designed for 18-25 year olds started by Louie and Shelley Giglio with the intent of raising up the next generation of believers, it’s one of the coolest experiences I have ever been a part of. And I’m convinced that it’s impossible to leave Passion without feeling refreshed and hopeful for what God is doing in this broken world through His followers.
Among the captivating speakers at Passion were Jay and Katherine Wolfe. If you aren’t familiar with them, they have an incredible story of heartache, healing, and hope. After Katherine suffered a major brainstem stroke, Jay was left to walk through an intense recovery with her all while raising their infant son. Jay has now become Katherine’s full-time caretaker. We hear that, but can we truly imagine living it? Having to do everything for our spouse from the moment they wake up to the moment their head hits the pillow at night? Helping them learn to walk, talk, and eat again among many other tasks. A beautiful picture of the vows we take on our wedding day. Living out the promise of “in sickness and health” that is such an easy promise to say, but a much harder promise to keep.
One particular moment of Katherine’s encouraging words struck me when she noted that, “The real challenge of marriage is not just to stay in body, but to stay in spirit with your spouse.” Words that immediately took me to my own mother. My mind can’t help but go to her story when I think of an act of love that was both sacrificial and extravagant.
I’ve heard before that grief is the last great act of love. What beautiful words; the greater the love the greater the grief. When my mom lost her soul mate after 20 years of marriage and three children together, she continued to love my dad well by loving us well. She worked three jobs, made a point to keep my dad’s memory alive through her stories (the same ones. Over. And over.), continued to teach us the importance of kindness and grace and always had the same response when people would ask her why she hadn’t remarried (and now that I am semi-adult, I realize how rude that question is; another example of her kindness and grace). Her response has stuck with me and paved the path for my own motherhood journey.
My mom would always tell people, “I married the love of my life when I was 21 years old, and I won’t settle just because he isn’t here with me on earth anymore—my job right now is to raise his kids to the best of my ability.”
My mom has used her motherhood as her big, extravagant act of love for my dad. People tell me all the time what a gift motherhood is and I totally believe that. But we cannot forget that our motherhood is also a gift that we give.
What if we loved extravagantly and sacrificially even in the hardest of days and seasons of our motherhood? I thank God for my mom’s example she has set for me and my siblings and hope and pray that one day, my children will see the goodness of God through my motherhood as I have seen through hers.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Brandon and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 2 years old and a son, Russell, who is 6 months old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy.