I received an email from one of the women who reads the “On Fire” blog. Honestly? This weekend has been such a whirlwind of news that initially I was like, “I’ll get to it later” because just all of the stories on Whitney Houston alone (sigh), I found myself in a bit of information overload. I’m glad that the Comforter (John 14:16) had something else in mind. He gently nudged me to click on the link. I’m glad that I did. Here’s why.

A couple of days ago, I also read a piece on one of my other favorite websites, It was talking about the crisis that marriage is in. This is (partially) what drew them to this conclusion:

“The statistics are eye-opening. From 1970 through 2008, the U.S. marriage rate has declined from 76.5 to 37.4 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women. Not only is the marriage rate declining, but the rate of decline is accelerating. Creating a trend line, Martel comes up the astounding conclusion that if the current tendency continues, sometime between 2028 and 2034 the U.S. marriage rate will reach zero!

Preposterous? Of course. People will surely continue to get married. But we can’t ignore the reality of the precipitous decline in the numbers of those choosing to walk down the bridal path.

In 1960, 72 percent of adults (over the age of 18) were married. According to Pew, the prestigious American research center, that number today is 51 percent, and five percent of that drop occurred between 2009 and 2010. Marriage rates declined even more for young adults. In 1960, 59 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 were married; today, it’s only 20 percent. The average marrying age is 26.5 for women and 28.7 for men, compared to 20.3 and 22.8 in 1960.”

They’re citing that a big part of all of  this is due to the fact that people have too many options now. Yeah. I’ll let *y’all* have it on that part (LOL). But then as I read the article that the spiritual sistah in my life sent me, I thought about the *power of love* in relationships and how, although it seems like we discuss the problems that lead to the end of relationships more than the blessings that come from the union of two people (Genesis 2:23-24, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12), covenant love still serves an *extremely divine purpose*. Even for two imperfect people in crisis. Here’s an excerpt of what I read:

“Their separate stories of decline into drugs and violence are nationally known: Mr. Andrews was the inspiration for the character Omar Little, a ruthless thug who stalks dealers on the HBO series ‘The Wire.’ Ms. Boyd was the protagonist of ‘The Corner,’ an HBO miniseries that chronicled her fall into addiction.

But the story of their shared redemption is less widely known. On Aug. 11, they are getting married after a lengthy courtship that was as much about turning their lives around as it was about finding each other. Over a decade in the making, their union is a source of inspiration for the grittier parts of West Baltimore, where few people who end up on the corner using and selling drugs manage to break free, and even fewer return to make a difference.

‘Donnie and Fran are a street version of Cinderella and Prince Charming, but when they fell in love they didn’t have any magical dust in their eyes,’ said the Rev. Frank M. Reid III, pastor of the Bethel A.M.E. Church here, who will perform the ceremony. ‘They also show us something about salvation, since now they’re using their skills from the corner to pull other people through.’

When Mr. Andrews and Ms. Boyd met more than 10 years ago, each was a prisoner — although only one was behind bars — and each began helping the other get free. Ms. Boyd, 50, has been clean for more than 10 years, in large measure, she says, because Mr. Andrews, 53, saw her through the worst times, using all he earned in the prison factory to make daily calls to her. When another man was living with her, when she was too high to make sense, when she screamed at him to stop calling, he called anyway, all the while gently nudging her to get her life back.”

They started out as addicts. They fell in love without fairydust. Even when Fran was “too high to make sense”, Donnie kept calling anyway. *Gently nudging her back to life.* If that ain’t a present-day depiction of godly love, would someone please tell me what is? So many of us claim to be Christians, but in reading about Christ’s love for us, I don’t really recall any stories that reflected that it was easy for him. We’re a mess. SIN IS A MESS. He loved us then and he continues to love us now, anyway. If any relationship should reflect this kind of love, it should be covenant love.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, here is an email that I received from one of our guest bloggers. His girlfriend has stage four cancer. They haven’t even given her a year. Some months ago, after going through a very painful divorce, sent me a piece that he didn’t know any godly women. My how the tune has changed:

“There is a song playing over and over in my head today by Kenny Rodgers titled ‘She Believes In Me’. The words, over and over again, telling me how she believes me. She has faith in me and she waits for me, her prince. She believes in fairytales and happy endings and I do too… How I wish I could change her world and maybe, just maybe on some special night, the dreams we have will come true.

Sometimes, though, regardless how gallant the prince may be, he may not save the princess.

I’ve come so far on a journey of healing. Healing from repeated sexual abuse and many many years of porn addiction. I’ve failed in love and marriage. I struggle to be a good father. I am a good man, however. How do I know? She believes in me. I may never know what she sees in me. That’s OK. I have her love and that’s enough. That’s all I want. That’s all I need. That’s all I desire.

She is the most beautiful woman in the world to me. I’ve shown her pictures to others and they all agree she is gorgeous, but that is not what attracted me. It was what was inside her. Her spirit is so beautiful. I want to tell the world of her. How did she become the object of my desires? I was drawn in by the words she has written. For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Out of the pain and the tragedies in her life she has found the love of God and she has shown it to me.

She knows all of me. I’ve hidden nothing from her. I have kept nothing back. If ever a woman like her could love a man like me, I have experienced the love, forgiveness and acceptance of God. If I never see her face or kiss her lips, I have experienced the type of love a man desires from a woman. The type of love I’ve never been able to experience before because through her love I have healed so much. She believes in me.

No one, not even myself, may not understand what she sees in me. They know of my past. They think they know me today. They maybe think that there is no way I’ve shared all of me and I’m holding out sharing the the ugly side of me and only showing my best side. It is all OK. She doesn’t care what others think. I may not be able to change her world, but she has forever changed my life. I may never be able to be with her physically or sexually. I may never be able to marry her for reasons I can’t explain right now, but I found something that transcends all of anything I can express in words; how I fell so deeply in love for the first time in my life. I’ve connected with a woman on a deeper level than I ever thought possible.

I know the years of sexual abuse and porn addiction has taken a toll on me, but just as I have faith in my children and this woman has faith in me. I’ve had faith in God to heal me and set me free from all the negative affects sexual sin has caused me, the sins of others against me and the sins against my own body, mind and soul.

So I say the love of this woman has done more for me in the past year than anything I’ve experienced previously all my life. Isn’t that what the love of God does? It covers a multitude sins. The love of God has covered me.”

And then to me he said, “It’s funny how this letter has turned out. I wanted to say so much more about the Godly woman. I finally found her.”

Love bears all things. BELIEVES ALL THINGS. Endures all things. Love never fails.

The Love Chapter tells us this and what I adore about these two stories is that they’re not fairytales, but they are beautiful stories of what *redemptive love* can, and should, do.

I’m not sure where you are in your own love story, but if you’re at a breaking point, before making a decision to end it, I do encourage you to process its purpose. Sometimes remembering the *why* provides to fuel to continue on. If it is God’s will. Indeed, the last line of Donnie and Fran’s story says it best:

“No, it’s not a happy-ending story,” Ms. Boyd said, “because we’re just getting started.”

Mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24). Hmph. Words to live by.

Love heals, y’all.

Happy Valentines’ Day!