50 Shades of Love


February is the month for love! There are many proposals, all over the US being planned for this month, many coming on Valentines Day. I even proposed to my wife in February, although I wanted to make sure it was a surprise so I proposed a week before Valentines! We are seeing all the card displays, and the seasonal candy come to the front of Targets and Wal-Marts alike, and to the chagrin of many men, February is when the pinnacle of “chick flicks” are out in full force!

While on the treadmill today, I saw a preview for one such movie, it is called Fifty Shades of Grey. The trailer that was shown flashed some words that provoked deep emotion from me. The captions said, “Love is not always black and white,” hence the need for “fifty shades of grey.” The movie is being billed as an intense modern love story, but my heart was deeply grieved by the lies this movie promotes.

I’ve been married now for almost a year and a half, so I don’t pretend to know everything there is about marriage or love or anything related to the two. I’m not an expert; I’m obviously a novice, but there are truths I have learned about the two, even before the day Ezzy and I took our vows. Most importantly, during our courtship and engagement, the Lord deepened these truths in me. I believe He is deepening them even now. These truths are this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

I wish I could say that I lived out each one of these superlatives to their fullest, my wife would really appreciate it. But as many times as I fail, I try again. If I were to sum up my understanding of this verse it would be “Love is Selfless.” That’s basically what my senior pastor told me. He was in the middle of a difficult time in his marriage and he was gracious enough to speak to me consistently through it. I’ll never forget what he said while we waited at a stoplight one day:

“Anthony, marriage is not about you, it’s about the other person. You become focused on what is best for the other person–what pleases them, what makes them feel loved–and it is only with this mentality that marriage can reach the unity that God had intended.”

He shared many truths with me and to this day, Ezzy loves it when I am able to spend time with him because she says I always come back “better.” I would agree with her. He is one of the most selfless people I know. He has taught me that there isn’t a “his or her” problem, there is only an “our” problem. Everything you face, you face together, but ultimately it is millions of decisions based on a commitment you made once. You either chose to or you choose not to. The reasons are limitless, but the choice is one or the other. There is no middle ground.

I am really blessed to have married my wife Ezzy. If you were to look on my Facebook profile, you would agree and wonder how in the world I was able to marry her. I wonder the same thing sometimes. I used 1 Corinthians 13 to decide to marry her. I asked myself if the feelings I had for her lined up with what Paul said love was.  If we say there are fifty shades of love, then we would have to say there are fifty definitions of love, but there isn’t. There is one definition and when we hold our feeling or emotions up to the light of God’s truth, it is clear and evident as to whether or not we really, in fact, love someone.

Anthony Calabro

Anthony Calabro ministers nationally, serves as an associate evangelist with Sean Smith Ministries a.k.a. Pointblank International as well as locally at his home church in Oakland, CA as its Outreach Director. He grew up in a high crime neighborhood in Stockton, CA, which God used to cultivate a heart for inner-city ministry. Anthony became a 2-year graduate from Lakeview School of Ministry in 2001, graduated from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in 2005 with his B.A. in Church Ministries, and became an ordained minister with Pointblank International in 2005. In 2013, he married the love of his life, Esra “Ezzy” Calabro. Since his conversion at the age of 6, Anthony has regularly been involved in evangelism and has remained active in the harvest fields of the inner-city. Anthony’s heart is to inspire new passion in people’s heart to relentlessly pursue intimacy with Christ. Anthony and his wife currently reside in San Ramon, CA.