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Thanks to Kate from One Flesh Marriage, we parents have another opportunity to remember our spouse and and the covenant relationship that is the foundation and container for our adoptions. This is worth our time dear parents, as we attend to the needs of our children so diligently!
We have all been to weddings where 1 Corinthians 13 is read; there is a good chance this scripture was at your own ceremony! I know that Brad and I used it and had stars in our eyes as we thought about how amazing our love was going to be in our marriage. After all the Bible talks all about it. Yes, we also knew that there would be hard times, and yet we thought that this amazing love would sustain and would only grow. We thought that we would have no choice but to love in this manner. That’s what love was after all.
Not long into the first year of our marriage, it became clear that we had bought into a lie that is not God’s plan for marriage. A lie that gave us a very unrealistic, romanticized worldly version of love. Love that gave totally unrealistic expectations about romance, sex, communication, finances or forgiveness. Don’t get me wrong, all of these things have a place in God’s design for marriage. Yet to have an expectation of love getting us through everything simply because it is love, is naive. So what can we learn from 1 Corinthians 13?
We have the amazing privilege to be a part of the marriage ministry at our church, and to be using a revolutionary curriculum. As we were going through our section this past week with our group, I felt God prompting me to share a section with you.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 teaches that love: (from the ReEngage Curriculum, created by Watermark Community Church, Dallas TX)
Is patient and kind. It doesn’t look for instant gratification or immediate change. Rather than wounding or reminding of failures, it encourages. It is always thoughtful in actions, attitudes and speech.
Doesn’t envy or boast. It celebrates when another is celebrated. It doesn’t have to one-up the other to somehow be better. In fact, love actually admits failures and shortcomings rather than making excuses or pretending they don’t exist.
Isn’t rude or insisting on its own way. Rather than demanding or manipulating to get what it wants, real love actually finds joy in serving the other and putting their needs first. It even studies the other’s needs and wants so it can meet them.
It’s not irritable or resentful. It can handle interruptions, shortcomings, and disappointments without becoming angry and agitated. It gladly overlooks small offences and graciously forgives larger ones without bringing them up later.
Bears and endures all things. It sees the other’s hardships as its own and takes them on in selfless ways. It stays completely and actively committed regardless of how it feels or what it is received in return. (emphasis added)
Believes and hopes all things. It acts in a trustworthy manner with no secrets, which leaves no room for suspicion. It believes the best about the other, and does everything it can to make the relationship work.
Each time I read this it is like I my eyes are being opened fully to the reality that this won’t happen until I see Jesus. Yet, each time God challenges and shows me a different way I can love my hubby better.
So how can we take this list, make it a positive and not become overwhelmed?
Identify where you struggle. Which of these do you struggle with the most? Why do you think that is? How can you seek Jesus on changing that? If it is your biggest area of struggle, you may think it is too hard, but God has a plan for that and will bless you. Also it is good to remember that small steps are ok. You don’t need to radically change overnight, but you can make smaller efforts and see how God grows them and blesses both of you!
Identify where you thrive . Which of these is your loving strong suit? How can you continue to thrive in that area of loving your spouse? Making a mental note of these things is more helpful then you can imagine! Being “aware” of your strengths and weakness is important to moving forward in your own walk with Jesus as well as your marriage. And even more powerful, being aware of who Jesus is in you, in your spouse, and in your marriage will set you free to walk in the place of blessing you so desire.
Put your spouse before yourself. We all say we want to do it, but in practice it is very hard to maintain. I believe selfishness is one of the plagues killing marriages today. Thinking about my hubby before myself regardless of what I am getting in return is not the way I lived those beginning years of our marriage. Now I aspire to live and love this way and it is revolutionary! Not too surprising since it is the way Jesus loves us. Look to Him and you will see that in Him you be able to put your spouse before yourself.
Remember you are LOVED. Remember that in all things you are loved most dearly by Jesus. Perhaps you are like me and failed to do any of the above in part of your marriage. Perhaps you have done well, but feel so unloved by your spouse. Remember that God loves you so much no matter what and He desires to bless you in your marriage. Keep seeking to love your spouse the way he asks, because that is all you can do. I believe that God blesses our faithfulness and obedience. It may not always be in the way we expect, but there are great blessings, none the less!
Reading the list above, what are your first thoughts? Do you struggle in one specific area? How have you brought about change in your own life?