Tag Archive | marriage

What is love?

1 Corinthians 13:1-7, 13

I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

 

 

One day my husband and I got in a huge argument and I do believe the “D” word was tossed around. He was sharing his struggles with me about ending the affair and he told me that he loved the other woman. Automatically, I got mad. Very mad. I told him that if he loved her, then he must hate me. I told him that a person cannot love two people like that at the same time. It is impossible. He told me that he knew what love was and he knew that he loved her. I looked at him and said (not at all calmly, but rather more like screaming), “That ain’t love. Love is not deceptive and does not lie. Love rejoices in truth.” I went on to say that love does not keep secrets and manipulate and act so selfishly or callously towards someone else. If he wanted to say he loved her, then what did he label his feelings for me as? I mean, honestly, he was treating me so harshly and kept hurting me, so he must have hated me.

I told him that I was not going to stay in a loveless marriage and he had to decide who he wanted to be with. If he did not love me or want to be with me, then HE could go file for divorce. Yes, I spoke those things, and I meant those things. But talking to my husband at that point was like talking to a brick wall. His mind was so deceived and so twisted that he could not see the truth. I really think he was in as dark and painful a place as I was, only his darkness and pain were totally different from mine. I can see all of this now, but back when I was in the midst of it, things were not nearly as clear.

However, by arguing with my husband about what love is and is not, I had to confront my own love for him. Love is patient, kind, unselfish, truthful, bears all things, believes all things, does not give up, and is persistent and hopeful (1 Corinthians 13:1-7).  I realized that I was trying to force change and truth on my husband, when he was not quite at that point yet. How much was I willing to bear? How long was I willing to fight without giving up? Was I going to believe that somehow out of this horribly ugly and twisted mess that good could come? Was I going to believe for restoration and healing despite how things looked at the present? Was I going to walk by faith and not by sight (Hebrews 10:38), speaking to things that are not as if they are (Romans 4:17)? These are the kinds of thoughts that went through my mind as I wrestled with God over staying in my marriage.

Love does not bail just because things get hard or things are not going as you expected. Love does not simply give up because your love is not some fairy tale. No, actually, it is in the hard and challenging situations in which love is tested and proven. True love can withstand tests and trials and will come out stronger because of those things. We live in a society where people walk away from their marriages and families so easily. The word “love” is thrown around so haphazardly. Frankly, I do not think we really know what love is until the love has been tested and proven. I do not think we can truly realize the nature of love until that love has been tried and gone through some times when the other person is unlovable, when it would have been so easy to just walk away and find someone or something better. When I spoke my marriage vows before God, I took them very seriously. I realized that the part “for better or worse” was now being tested. An adulterous affair is the “worse” part, and I had made a promise to my husband, to God, and to those who witnessed our sacred vows that I would be faithful and true to my husband for as long as we both should live–no matter what.

Love may begin as feelings, and those feelings can be incredible. You are deliriously happy and stay on a high. You honestly don’t have to eat or sleep; you can live on love. But, it is not possible to stay in that state. Reality steps in. We have to work, we have to eat, we have to sleep. We have responsibilities and obligations to fulfill. At some point, love must go beyond those giddy, up in the air feelings. It must become an act of our will by which we commit ourselves to someone and enter into a covenant relationship with that person. It must become a way of life in which the needs of others are more important than our own. It must enter into a place of being able to look beyond how someone is treating us and feeling towards us to choosing to love that person in spite of those things. You see, by very nature, love is unselfish and giving. It keeps going and loving, believing that there is hope and that redemption can come and will come. I guess that is why I kept going, why I kept loving, even though I felt like I was the other woman. Fifteen years earlier I would have just walked away. Wow! Where God has brought me and the things I have learned!

Not called to walk on water, but close enough

There were times that were so dark and lonely, I honestly didn’t think I would survive. The darkness and pain were suffocating, and the nights seemed so very long. It just kept raining and raining, and the storm clouds grew darker and more ominous. I had no idea how long this storm would last, or even if I would survive it, but I had to keep going. I know the strength that kept me going could only have come from God, and he also spoke peace to me many times in the midst of the storm. Make no mistake, God carried me through the whole sordid series of events, and that is the only reason I am emotionally sane today.

Many, many times, I could not pray. All I could say was “God, help me.” At others times all I could do was cry, “God!”  I am so thankful that others were lifting me up in prayer when I was unable to do so for myself. Believe me–that kind of despair is engulfing. It sucks the life out of you. I felt like a zombie–just walking around, lifeless. A part of me died with my husband’s confession, and there was more death to come. During this whole time, I developed a fear of the dark (ok, maybe I’ve always been a little afraid of the dark…lol), and I could not sleep no matter how hard I tried or how much I needed to. My bed was soaked in tears and awful, ugly thoughts would not stop racing through my tortured mind. I remember one night very clearly: Sleep was eluding me yet again and I was in so much pain. I was confused and scared and beyond desperate. I got out of bed and walked into the den. Everyone else was asleep, so the house was dark. I walked over to my rocking chair and sat down. Tears began to stream out of my eyes and I sat there in the dark and cold and cried for several minutes. I felt so alone, so suffocated by the darkness. I began crying out to God, telling him how scared I was, how much I was hurting. I told him that I wanted to trust him. I said, “God, I’m scared. It’s so dark and I can’t see where I’m going.” Immediately, the spirit of God whispered to me, “That’s why I’m carrying you.”  And then he put a mental image of Jesus picking me up and carrying my tired and weary body. It was the first bit of comfort I had had in quite some time and it was a very tender moment. Even though the storm was far from over, I knew in my deepest heart that I was not in it alone. I knew that Jesus was with me, and that no matter what happened, he could control the storm.

I felt instant peace, and I knew that no matter what I would face, I was not going to go through it alone. You see, I was too weak to walk on my own at this point. I was amazed I was still standing and not lying in bed, an emotional wreck, feeling sorry for myself. I knew in that instant that God spoke to me that He was carrying me. I saw Him, picking me up, and carrying me like a mother carries her infant, close to her heart. I knew then that I didn’t have to see where I was going, I didn’t have to know what the next step was or even how I was going to make it, because God was carrying me and He could see what lay ahead, even in the dark.

If it had not been for that tender moment with God, with hearing his voice clearly, I do not know if I could have faced what was to come. I am not going to lie and say that I never asked God where he was in all the chaotic mess that my life had become, because I still wrestled with very real fears and doubts. I still had many unanswered questions. But, deep in my spirit, I held on to the words that God so mercifully spoke to me. I am reminded of the verse in Hebrews that tells us the just shall live by faith (Hebrews 10:38) and that faith is the evidence of things not seen, and the substance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). With my natural eyes, I could not see what was in front of me, but my spiritual eyes tried to stay focused on Jesus. I certainly took my eyes off of Jesus at times, but that did not change his character, and it did not void the promise that God gave me. Even when I felt that I was all alone, God had told me that he was with me and that he was carrying me, and he remained true to his promises.

Even the apostle Peter, who was so bold that he dared to step out on water to go to Jesus, suffered from doubts and got his eyes off of who Jesus is, of the power available to Peter through faith. And, because of his doubt, because he forgot for a moment who was calling to him, his faith was shaken and he began to sink. But notice what happened afterwards. When Peter cried out, Jesus reached out to Peter so that Peter would not sink (Matthew 14:22-33). Let that truth sink in for a moment. Despite Peter’s lack of faith, Jesus refused to let Peter sink. He did not let Peter drown. Now, God did not ask me to walk on water, but He was asking me to trust Him even though I could not see his hand or his purpose in all that was going on in my life. He asked me to hold on to his promises in spite of how hard and scary things had become. Like Peter, I faced a dilemma, a crisis of faith. I could either keep my eyes focused on the Author and Finisher of my faith, on the One who is Faithful and True, or I could focus on the stormy sea and the raging winds. Like Peter, I failed to keep my eyes on Jesus at times during this trial, but Jesus never once let me sink or drown. Instead, he gently called out to me and extended his hand. It was up to me to take his hand and hold on to it.

My physical eyes could only see the surface; they could only see the obstacles. My natural body heard the cruel and hurtful words of my husband; it saw his callousness and selfishness. It felt the very real pain and fear. It asked the questions “Why?” and “How long God?” It wanted to cave in to the overwhelming emotions even to the point of death. But, in the spiritual…things were different. The Bible states that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). It also states that the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). In my flesh, I didn’t understand. In my flesh, I did not see. In my flesh, I felt defeated. But that was not what I experienced in my spiritual man. No, I did not understand; I did have questions. I was afraid, I was hurting, and I was struggling. In spite of those things, though, I knew that God was holding me. I knew he hurt for me. I knew he had a plan that was beyond my understanding. And, I knew that no matter what became of my marriage, I was going to be okay, as long as I continued to hold fast to God. God was not giving me any guarantees about my marriage, but he did give me his promise that if I would listen to Him, if I would seek Him, if I would obey him, He would take care of me. God always honors obedience—always. I could not control my husband or change his heart or his actions, but I could choose to give all of those things to God. I did have control over where I would place my trust and faith, and I chose Jesus. I had to be encouraged many times to continue to focus on Jesus, to continue to trust him; it was definitely a decision I daily faced, but it was never a choice I regretted.