Gilland: One word revolutionized Valentine’s Day for me

Mike and Cindy Gilland
Mike and Cindy Gilland

Valentine’s Day—on a Sunday! It is on a day like this that I tend to wax just a wee bit sentimental, as I look back on 45 Valentine’s Days with my wife Cindy, who is truly the love of my life.

Today, I am especially thankful for her and all of years that we have enjoyed together. But it wasn’t until we had been married for 10 years that a most amazing thing happened in my heart.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I loved my wife, even through those first 10 years of marriage. I loved her deeply, and my commitment to her was beyond question.

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Still, something was missing. And whatever that missing component was, I had no clue. At least, not until one very special day in September 1986.

We had moved to Florida from the Midwest a year earlier, and I had been spending some time talking to a relatively new friend. It was during those talks that I began to discern the missing ingredient.

I noticed that whenever he talked about his wife, even if it were a passing comment, there seemed to be a twinkle in his eye, an expressed fondness for her and an almost giddy light-heartedness in my friend’s countenance that was very noticeable to me.

After a while, I began to realize that, as much as I thought I loved my wife, I was not actively experiencing that kind of feeling. I wanted to do so, but…how?

I began to pray about it, asking God to change my heart from where it was, to love my wife more deeply and lovingly, to be more internally affected when I was with her, or whenever I would talk about her to others. I longed to have that same kind of sparkle in my eye, the one that I had to admit was lost.

Somewhere in the middle of those prayers, the Lord answered my desire, and gave me a word to use in my asking for a greater appreciation and love for her, a change that not only others would notice, but that SHE would notice.

That word was cherish. I began to ask God to help me cherish my wife.

He answered that prayer directly, and I was soon able to discern the difference in my heart. It was almost as if a lens had been removed from my thinking, one that had somehow filtered out the kind of loving emotions that had filled my heart and mind when we first met, and during our first year of friendship.

Suddenly, deep feelings of gratefulness, love and excitement about our relationship displaced those other rather stoic thoughts that were more about our day-to-day life, or my commitment and loyalty to her.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with commitment and loyalty—but they weren’t supposed to be the sum total of my thoughts about my wife. I found myself absolutely smitten with her on a daily basis, like I was when I first met her.

Now, looking back, that amazing answer to prayer happened more than 34 years ago, and the answer that God gave me then is still as fresh and alive as it was in 1986. I am so grateful for the example that my friend was to me back then, even when he wasn’t aware of the impact that his exuberant love for his wife would have upon my life, and our marriage.

My prayer for all of you on this special day is that you too will yearn to adore your spouses, to regularly thank God for giving you not only a faithful wife (or for you ladies, a husband), but also a deep and abiding ability to cherish them for the gift they are to you.

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