Jesus laid down His life for us and we know that His love is unconditional. He is perfect and He is love...but I am not love and it comes much harder for me to love unconditionally. I am filled with expectations for my dear husband. My husband is not perfect and so it is easy for my expectations to be let down. Expectations destroy a relationship, whether it be with your husband or others. So, how do we love unconditionally like Christ??
Photo Credit: Haven of Rest
Each week (or so) I have been reading through the excellent book, The Love Dare by Steven and Alex Kendrick. There are many, many books on marriage and books written especially for the wife. For a couple years, I have been trying to do specific things to encourage the life of my marriage. It needs to be nurtured, like any marriage because today, we constantly fight the tide of marriages failing in divorce.
I remember a statement a college professor once told me: "Marriage is 100%/100%; Not 50%/50%." Marriage is one partner giving 100%, their ALL, whether the other person gives anything at all!! Here we go again...Love is not based on selfishness. Basing our love on the other person giving even 10%, is a selfish love.
What do you base your love for your husband on?? Is it because he is handsome, his personality, hardworking, godly character, or because he is generous?? What if your husband stopped being any of the things that you admire so much about him?? What if once you were married you found his actions changed towards you and he was often cross and angry with you?? What would you do?? Many circles, even some Christian circles would not give the best advice!!
Unconditional love is a love that lasts a lifetime. A marriage cannot survive without the kind of love that loves because at least one spouse chooses to love. The Bible calls this sort of love agape love. It is good if your marriage was established on phileo or friendship love and it is wonderful if your marriage has an eros or sexual love, but these types of love will not fare well enough through the storms of life.
The love that God has is agape love, the kind of love that will weather the stormy days. It is the "in sickness and health" love, "for richer or poorer" love,"for better or worse" love. It is the only kind of love that is true love. (The Love Dare, p. 47)
After we had been married ten years, I got to the point that I really, really wanted things to change. I began to realize that it depended on what "I" did much more than anything my husband did. We started to homeschool our two children and many things began to change. I initially thought that things changed because we were homeschooling and thought my friends would also see wonderful things happen in their marriages. Sadly, at least five couples I knew got divorced!! I learned from this how important it is to guard your hearts, and your marriage from utter destruction.
As time went on, I came to realize that it wasn't homeschooling that would save or improve a marriage but that "I" as the wife would change. It wasn't my husband that should change...it was, "Change Me, O Lord!!"
In so many ways it is the women, the wives who have gone wrong in marriage. That is not to say that there is not any responsibility placed on the husband but that there are many areas where wives have left the original plan that God had for marriage. Wives are not submissive, not letting their husband lead, they have left the home for work, they are feministic in their thinking and actions, they have lost their femininity, they have become independent from their husband and children, are not diligent to care for their home, and the list goes on.
Over the years, I have found how slowly I have made progress in becoming the wife God intended me to become. I have read myriads of books on the subject and studied the Bible on related topics. Head knowledge doesn't transfer into heart knowledge as easily as I would have liked and I found that I continually fell short!!
Until I realized that I was to allow God to transform my heart and life into the kind of agape love that He shows us, I made little progress. I was like the pharisee or hypocrite who knew all the right things but did not have the deep understanding of the publican. I did not tap into the Power to carry them out.
I began learning to depend on the Holy Spirit to literally direct my thoughts, words, and actions when things don't go my way. Doing things for my husband even when I am too tired to feel like doing them, is what Christ would want of me.
Lest you think I am what I am not, I still don't always feel like doing for my husband or family when I am tired, or just simply lazy. Giving a foot rub, bringing ice tea to my very exhausted husband (he gets up at 3am most mornings), will bring joy to my heart. Continuing to bask in my lazy attitude (which always seems to lurk just under my skin) doesn't bring anything more than selfishness and that "I" deserve the foot rub, or ice tea brought to "me" because after all.....!!!!
Here is a practical way to do something about what I have shared:
Do something out of the ordinary today for your husband,
Something that proves (to you and to them) that your love is
based on your choice and nothing else.
Make his favorite meal, put notes in his lunch,
if you are late getting home with the children buy him a sub-sandwich,
and make sure your home is clean and inviting.
Demonstrate love to them for the
sheer joy of being their partner in marriage.
(Adapted from The Love Dare, p. 49)
These verses demonstrate the Christ-like love we ought to share with our dear husband:
"But God commended his love toward us, in that,
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
"We love him because he first loved us."
I John 4:19
(Love) Bereath all things,
believeth all things,
hopeth all things,
endureth all things."
I Corinthians 13:7
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, not things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
How is YOUR marriage faring?? What are YOU doing to bring change??
You might be pleasantly happy to find that when you love as Christ loves, your husband begins to respond in like manner. It takes just one person choosing to love!!
In Christ Alone,
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