Elizabeth Barrett Browning is one of my all-time favorite poets. And her love story is one for the ages. A late-in-life romance, a daring escape from an emotionally abusive home, a secret elopement, and then a wonderfully happy marriage to a man she had never dared to dream would come into her life. During their courtship, Robert and Elizabeth wrote many letters back and forth, and the things they talked about often made it into Elizabeth’s poems. Not the poems she wrote for publication, but the ones she wrote for herself. Expressions of love overflowing from her awestruck heart.
On her honeymoon, Elizabeth shyly presented these poems as a gift to her new husband. He insisted that they were too beautiful to keep to himself and begged her for permission to share them. They were later published under the title “Sonnets from the Portuguese” (Robert used to call Elizabeth his “little Portuguese” — an affectionate nickname inspired by her dark eyes, dark hair, and olive complexion.) Even if you’re not a huge poetry fan, you know at least one of these sonnets. It begins:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
I’ve been thinking about my own True Love lately… and how infrequently I remember to express my love for Him. I often pour out my frustrations, my complaints, my tears, my fears. I seek Him out when I’m longing for His comfort and strength. I ask Him for His help — His wisdom and direction, His provision, His forgiveness and mercy and grace.
But how often do I lavish my love on Him? How often do I pour out my heart in praise and worship? In adoration?
Not nearly as often as I should.
In a day and age in which His Name is most often used as a swear word, when all over the world the people He created — the people He died to save — constantly mock Him and revile Him, when they (in essence) spit on Him on nearly every major news or entertainment website, movie or television program… how grieved His heart must be.
What might it mean to Him to hear me express my love and gratitude? To hear me, to hear you lifting up His Name in praise and adoration?
Today I’ve already started with a list written in my journal: “Ten Things I Love About You!” I’m going to read it to Him over and over. And I’m going to put some worship music on … sing it to Him with all my heart! I’m going to use my cell phone alerts to remind me to stop and pray throughout the day — not to request anything, but to simply reaffirm my love and gratitude to Him.
Will you join me? Will you remember to tell Him that you love Him today?
Today’s Question: I’ve shared ten things I love about Jesus… What’s something you love about Him?