I have a scrapbook of love letters my husband wrote to me while we were dating. I look at those cards and notes occasionally, and honestly, I laugh a little—not because of anything funny in the letters, but because of all that has happened in the twenty years of our marriage since. The letters he wrote were just beautiful, but our love was so naive and untested then, know what I mean? Our biggest trial at that point was the year we spent apart while we worked in separate states after graduating college, each of us saving money and making plans for our wedding and future.
We’ve had a few challenges along the way just a bit more difficult than time apart. I mentioned in my last post (click here) about saving to purchase our first house, but I didn’t mention the tiny cottage that we rented during that time. We could stand in the middle of the narrow living room, stretch our arms out to the sides, and touch the room’s side walls. Our entertainment? A tiny television given to us by my husband’s uncle, which we set on a cardboard box in the corner of the living room. The basement would have been an ideal setting for a horror movie. Admittedly, the place was better than most apartments (once our family helped us scrub it clean), and the rent was CHEAP. And that was just the beginning for us.
I recall someone telling us that if we could survive our first year of marriage, we had much better odds of making it as a couple. When we took our vows, we believed marriage was forever, but that first year was indeed difficult. Though both of us were twenty-three, we were so young in life experience. We had no idea that as much as we loved each other, we didn’t love each other in the agape (ancient Greek word signifying the highest form of love) way that God intended for all mankind to love each other, particularly married couples. We didn’t know how much sacrifice, service, and unselfishness it would take to make our marriage not only work, but thrive.
Twenty years in, I feel that we have come out on the other side, into a new phase of life together. Our children are grown past the point where they need constant attention and intervention. Finally, we can make time to go on “dates” again. Not the type of destination dates that we went on so long ago—my husband rarely brings me flowers and whisks me away to a fancy restaurant, although we still do that sort of thing occasionally. Instead of buying me a bouquet of flowers, he might plant flowers with me in my beloved perennial beds, shoveling compost by my side while we talk about college funds and home renovations. He doesn’t know a daylily from an Asiatic lily, but he helps me because flowers are important to me.
According to Scripture, that’s true love. Ephesians 5:1-2 says this:
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.
Whether married or single, we all have loved ones to whom we can extend the type of love that Jesus did to us, sacrificially putting others first. I encourage you to meditate on these well-known words from I Corinthians 13:
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.
How has the love of Christ worked in your life or marriage? I’d love to hear from you.
Credit goes to my lovely daughter for the featured image of her dad and I, taken July 2017. Read her blog at teenmeetgod.wordpress.com.