My parents eloped, keeping their marriage secret for almost year. The story, as I heard it, started after a broken engagement. My mother returned every gift my dad had ever given her. My dad, feeling the sting of the breakup, signed up for the army and was gone. Within three months the two had worked things out and decided to elope. Telling my maternal grandparents, they were going to the Minnesota State Fair, instead, they had an appointment with a judge to marry them. They never quite explained why they decided to elope just a few scant months after the break up. Because getting married certainly complicated their lives.
First, my mother didn’t want her parents to know they were married. I’m sure there was a story behind that. Second, my mother was teaching in a one room rural school. Married women in 1940 were not allowed to be teachers. In that long year of keeping the secret, my youngest aunt found evidence of their marriage, adding another layer of stress and a bit of blackmail to their relationship.
Love can get messy and complicated. C.S. Lewis says of love, “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
The apostle Paul puts it another way, “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:1-3
Risking love, whether in a romantic relationship or in friendship, adds meaning to our life and joy to our days.