The first time Josh bought me flowers we were still in college and in the infamous geting to know you stage. We had been dating for a couple of months when I got a phone call in my dorm room that a delivery was waiting for me at the front desk. I had never before had a delivery so my curiousity was piqued, and I remember grinning from ear to ear when I saw a small but beautiful floral arrangment of lillies.
I love flowers. Something about their beauty mixed with the fact that they are both fragile and alive at the same time speaks to me about a God who is creative and caring. Flowers are unique and add color to the world. I also like getting flowers from a boy. And at this point in my life, receiving flowers from a boy other than my father had probably only happened a handful of times. So I was elated!
As I walked down the hallway of my dorm giddy with excitement, I became the center of attention. It was a mixture of joy and concealed jealousy - afterall, we are talking about a floor full of college age girls who all wished they would get a call from the front desk that a delivery is waiting for them.
As I got to my room, I immediately called Josh and absolutely swooned over the lillies that I had just received. I told him they were gorgeous, smelled divine, and that I loved his creaitivity. Most college boys would get roses or carnations, but he had really thought about it and gotten a flower that was unique! He was quite proud of himself, no doubt, and as we were both poor college students, I knew that this a big splurge for him.
I hung up the phone, bent down to smell those divine lillies and breathed in all of the lilly goodness. What followed was a litany of sneezes and the startling realization that I am allergic to lillies.
I am allergic to lillies!
Within 30 minutes my eyes were red and watering, I continued to sneeze at an impressive rate of consistency, and friends started to stop by to see just what was happening in my room. It was decided that the lillies would have to live in my friend Wendy's room across the hall, and that I could only visit the lillies from a distance.
Of course I refrained from telling Josh any of this, but continued to nurture our new relationship with flattery and the occasional stretching of the truth. I LOVED the lillies I told him! They are continuing to bloom! You are such a thoughtful boyfriend (afterall, I wanted the arrival of flowers to continue as this relationship progressed).
Now my Josh has one trait that I know well after 15 years of marriage. If he finds a proven formula that makes me happy, he will not veer from it. And so the next time that he sent me flowers (a few months later) - guess what appeared at my door? LILLIES!
Again...he sent me lillies.
Did I say anything about the fact that I would now be miserable for the next week? Nope! Because I didn't want to come across as a liar that first time. So instead I did what most women would do, I tried to send other subliminal messages. I said things like, "You know how much I love these lillies, right?! And you know what else I love? ALL flowers. I love tulips and roses and hydrageas and peonies. I just love ALL flowers!" And guess what Josh heard? "I love these lillies."
Because the next time he sent flowers...he sent lillies.
He said something about it being "our special flower" and that for the rest of our days he would send me lillies just so I'd know he was thinking of me. Although I smiled bright, inside I was cursing! For the rest of our days?! Are you kidding me? Have you ever omitted something or stretched the truth "for the greater good" only to watch as your plans unravel? I didn't want to hurt his feelings or for him to think I didn't love the gesture!
But after the 4th delivery of lillies I decided to bite the bullet. I told him I had a confession, and I think he braced himself for something truly aweful, and then I told him - I'm allergic to lillies.
To this day, I've never received another lilly until yesterday.
I walked into my office yesterday and was taken aback at the most delightful spring bouquet sitting on my desk. It had pink snap dragons and purple spider mums...and yellow lillies. Lillies?! I glanced down at the note he left via yellow sticky notes and smiled as I read these words...
I was doubtful that one could remove pollen, but 24 hours later I'm happy to report that I'm clear eyed and sneeze free, and I'm enjoying these beautiful flowers that were hand picked by this boy that I love and our small Haven Joy.
And I started thinking this morning that love isn't always butterflies and special delieveries. Most often, love is yellow sticky notes and simple gestures that say I love you "just because." Love that lasts is honest even when you just want to protect the other person's heart. It is faithful in the big and small, and it is putting in the work of love - going farther than is necessary...like removing pollen from lillies so you can remember the joy of the past while enjoying the beauty of today.