“Love covers a multitude of sins.”
What a statement, right? This seemingly impossible definition of love is what we are called to live out here on earth, especially in our most intimate relationships, like that with a spouse, child or parent. God describes the kind of love that easily forgives and looks past someone’s most glaring flaws, with continual hope.
It’s easy to get caught up in societies obsession over “perfect love” and “eternal romance” this time of year, (Valentines Day, am I right?) and ever more important to stay grounded in the truth. Perhaps the first step in true love is to remove the unrealistic expectations of “forever romance” and complete fulfillment from our partners.
When we say “for better or for worse” we have to remember that this doesn’t just mean external circumstances. Most often, the heaviest burdens we carry are those we bring into a marriage ourselves. I know I’ve brought all my own emotional and spiritual baggage to sort through and wouldn’t expect anything different from Luke. We have to ask ourselves, are we the partner too prideful to ask for help, or too hard of heart to offer it? Have we grown bitter from unforgiveness, or blinded with self love? Instead of making demands on a partner who is equally imperfect, perhaps we should place our eyes on God and HIS PERFECT LOVE.
What a BEAUTIFUL illustration of love and mercy Jesus Christ provided for us. While it’s revealed throughout the entire Old Testament, Jesus came and set the ultimate example of Gods faithfulness and mercy, when he chose to send His son to live a perfect life, then die for us and pay our eternal debt.
In God’s outline for marriage, we are called to let go of every expectation and judgement, to forgive every slight, even when no apology is offered. We are called to uplift and encourage, no matter the circumstance. A difficult time in our relationship is no excuse to falter in our own faith, but rather to call upon God’s strength. We get to call upon a God, who will provide unending comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding.
God calls us to lean on one-another and carry one another’s burdens. He calls us to submit to one another, for Christian men to love and cherish their wives “as Christ loved the church” and women especially, to submit, respect and honor their husbands as unto the Lord. As women, we inherently yearn for these manifestations of love, just as many men crave our physical respect and adoration. But what happens if you have a partner who refuses to support and encourage you? What if they stop loving you the way God calls them to? Surely God gives us a free pass, or asks us to teach our men a lesson, right?
For those of us who look for excuses to focus on our partner, instead of our own spiritual growth, it’s important to look to the scriptures where we are clearly called to respect our husbands. Yes, even through the worst of times. 1 Peter 3: 1-2
Perfect love in our relationships is not necessarily the goal here, but rather, the perfecting of our own hearts as we seek God first. Laying our pride aside for the moment, can we all admit our own worst failures and ugliness? Yet, in His grace and mercy, God works in each of us to mold and shape our hearts into a reflection of His own heart- IN HIS OWN TIME.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
In our weakness, He is made strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Life is not perfect. Even the most perfect reflections of life are just that- reflections. A truly perfect life is only attainable in the next life, when we are reunited with God. But hey, here’s the Good News! While we may not achieve perfection in and of ourselves, we do get to experience God’s PERFECT LOVE.
“For what manner of love is this, that He would call us His children?” 1 John 3:1
God can empower us with that same gracious love for our spouse, that caused Him to love us while we were yet sinners, if we only ask for it. So, there ya go…
I have to praise God for his faithfulness in my own life, because as crazy as it sounds, I’ve begun to change my prayers from “deliver me from this situation” to “deliver me from temptation.”
The difference is this: one is a demand for execution of MY plans, based upon MY understanding, while the second is submission to GOD’S plan toward GOD’S infinite wisdom. He promises to be my strength in times of weakness, not for me to be strong on my own. He promises comfort in times of pain and despair, not for me to shut down and shut off my heart from experiencing pain. He promises to be my refuge and stronghold, not to brace myself for unsheltered storms. This slight shift in prayer, removes all the burden from my ridiculously limited shoulders, to those of my all-mighty God and creator of the universe!
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
May God continue to test each of us, disciplining us in love, so that His strength may be magnified.