to Love Extravagantly
-- While writing Celebrate Your Path, a chapter in Youve Got
What It Takes about the value of a mission statement, I looked at my own
life. I had a defining statementthemefor my professional ventures, but
I did not have a personal one. I knew how valuable my professional statement
was, so I could see the importance of a personal oneeven recommending
this to my readersbut I did not have one myself. I mulled this over for
several days, focusing on the need for a personal purpose statement, the
path of my personal life.
At the time I was attending a womens Bible study on the book of Ephesians.
As part of my preparation for the study, I would read the assigned chapter
in several different versions of the Bible. One night I read Ephesians
5 in The Message. I wasnt looking for a personal mission statement, although
it was still in the back of my mind. I was simply preparing for the lesson
the next day.
as I read, this verse jumped out at me and I instantly knew it was my personal
pathat least for now; Observe how Christ loved us. His love is not cautious
but extravagant. He didnt love in order to get something from us but to give
everything of himself to us. Love like that (v. 1). As I read that, I knew that
my personal mission is to love my husband with extravagance, not to get, but to
give everything of myself. As I cook breakfast or dinner, as I do the dishes,
as I do the laundry, I can give something of myself, not expecting to get in return.
My husband has had a rough time in the last year. He has not been in a place to
be able to give much. But I am. I wrote that verse on my bathroom mirror to remind
me of my mission.
I find that I have to frequently repeat this verse to
myself, as it is contrary to my human nature. As Glenn T. Stanton says in his
Marriage Matters, The depth and quality of love can only be sustained
by a conscious act of will; it never simply happens.
Shortly after embracing
this idea of loving extravagantly, I had to put it to the test. Chuck has a large
radio-controlled model airplane that has been a part of his life for over thirty
yearshe started building it when he was sixteen and finally finished it twenty-five
years later. We have painstakingly moved it from house to house. He has too much
of himself invested in it to risk flying it. With a five-foot wingspan, you cannot
just tuck it any place. In our current home it hangs near the peak of the cathedral
ceiling in the family room. Bright red with Red Baron-like decals, it is sure
to be noticed. Since it is important to Chuck, I have accepted it as a conversation
pieceand you can be sure it is! It has traveled with us to eight different houses.
Recently he took the airplane to a model airplane show. He spent hours
cleaning off the accumulated dust that had firmly attached itself to every surface.
The plane was very popular at the show, and he discovered how valuable it really
is. Before he put it back on its hook, he wanted to protect it. So he covered
the body and wings with plastic dry cleaning bags, advertising and all.
like my home to look like a showplace; even having the airplane there is an act
of compromise and love. Having it covered with baggy dry cleaning bags with words
on them went too far. Ill never be able to entertain again! I wailed to him.
After my outburst, which I knew was an overreaction, I went outside and trimmed
my roses. As I took a deep breath, love extravagantly came to mind. Does it
really matter if the airplane has bags over it? What is more important, that my
husband be happy or that I have a lovely home? Hmm ... that was tough. Love extravagantly,
I told myself. I came back in and apologizedready to accept the dry cleaning
bags. Meanwhile, he had decided that I was right and it really was ugly. He had
taken the plane down, removed the dry cleaning bags, and was replacing them with
clear plastic wrap that clings tightly to every horizontal curve and doesnt even
Ah, the power of a personal mission statement: not cautious but extravagant,
not to get but to give. What changes do you need to make to love your spouse extravagantly?
Make it your personal purpose statement. Love extravagantly.
I told this
story in Youve
Got What It Takes, and I include the story every time I speak on that
book. Repeatedly after I share the story, people tell me that love extravagantly
is what they needed to hear.
The first time I shared it I was speaking
at a womens conference in Oregon. At the end of the day, a woman came up to me
and said, Out of everything that has gone on here today, love extravagantly
is what I am taking home with me. I thanked her and smiled. I realized I had
hit upon something that wasnt just important to me; it resonated with my audiences.
I shared the same message with a group of women in Phoenix. At the end, an older
woman came up to me and said, What you shared about loving extravagantly was
for me. She explained that her husband was terminally ill and she was his caretaker.
She needed to remember to love extravagantly.
After hearing the love extravagantly
story at a womens conference, a woman sent me the following e-mail:
has given me an opportunity to love extravagantly!!! While I was at the conference,
he must have gotten bored, because he decided to take all of his old LPs out of
their box in the garage, along with his old turntable. The turntable has replaced
our cassette deck on top of the stereo in our living room (for all to see), and
his albums are stacked in the hall. Im not talking five or ten or even twenty-five
albumsIm guessing there are at least two hundred or more (I dont have the heart
to count). They are not something you can pretend to overlook. So ... before I
called him at work to ask how long they would be sitting there, I decided to love
extravagantly, as you have challenged me to do, and not say a word.
I continue to speak on the message of Youve
Got What It Takes, Ive found the need for the love extravagantly principle
to be universal. What began as a small part of my previous book has grown into
a book of its own. On the following pages you will see snapshots of many marriages
and how following Christs examplenot to get but to give, not cautious but extravagantcan
make a significant difference. From their examples, you can apply the same ideas
to your own marriage and expect similar results. With all the changes in todays
family structure, couples need something more than just love to make their marriages
work. They need to love extravagantly!
For Better Opportunities
your copy of Love Extravagantly: Making the Modern Marriage Work
from Marita Littauer
Littauer is a professional speaker with over twenty years of experience. She is
the author of ten books including Love
Extravagantly:Making the Modern Marriage Work, and You've
Got What It Takes. She is the president of CLASServices
Inc., an organization that provides resources, training, and promotion for
speakers and authors.
Excerpted from: Love Extravagantly: Making the
Modern Marriage Work by Marita Littauer & Chuck Noon
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
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