How My Love Loves Me – Day 12

Love NEVER ENDS.
1 Corinthians 13:8

Before Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross start singing “Endless Love” on your mind’s iPod, I want to step back a bit. I do believe that my Love and I will eternally love each other as fellow heirs of salvation, but I don’t believe that we’ll be in this blissful state of eternal romantic love together with each other because, well, Jesus said that we won’t. While I like to imagine that my Love will hold a special place in my heart for all eternity, I know that eternity will be all about God: worshipping Him, loving Him, enjoying Him, and honoring Him with my gifts. So to me, that’s what this verse is ultimately about. That endless love.

John told us that God is love, and that the only way we know how to love is because He loved us first. So that’s how I see our marital love: it’s a symbol of the eternal. Inasmuch as my Love loves me and sacrifices for me and shows me that I’m worth fighting for, I know that God does all of that and more. Over the years, my Love has been painting a picture of how Jesus loves His Bride, the Church, and gave Himself up for her. It’s a beautiful picture, and it’s serving to help me love not only my husband more, but my Savior more. That impacts eternity, don’t you think?

I love you, my Love! Happy Valentine’s Day!

How My Love Loves Me – Day 11

Love always PROTECTS, always TRUSTS, always HOPES, always PERSEVERES.
1 Corinthians 13:7

I just – oh, this verse! It’s so perfect! It should be on a plaque or something. Wait, I’m sure it is. I need to check Hobby Lobby. Anyway, I should really make four different entries to do this justice, but I’m running short on time since today’s Valentine’s Day and I already started a day late to make this pan out properly. (There’s one more tomorrow! Think of it as a bonus.) Let’s just take it one verb at a time:

PROTECTS:
Check out this definition of the original Greek word for protect – “by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear”

I love it! Our marriage faces many threats every day; the enemy wants to destroy every good and holy thing, and Christian marriage is high on that list. Any way he can get a wedge in, he’ll take it. Love is fierce, though, like a mama bear. My Love, I guess that means I’m calling you a mama bear! (I mean, I can’t be too far off; the definition says “to bear up against.”)

TRUSTS:
Also translated as “believes.” I love the placement here after “protects,” because it necessarily implies that this belief is not passive. It’s not an, “Oh, God’s got this. We’re good. We’ve got a great marriage.” That’s a recipe for disaster and maybe even divorce. While keeping his eyes open to any possible threats and protecting against them, my Love continually trusts God with our marriage and believes that He brought us together for a reason. My Love knows we have a purpose together, and that we are worth fighting for.

HOPES:
I’m going to share the definition on this one, too, because it’s too good – “in a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence.”

What does marriage have to do with religion and salvation? EVERYTHING! That’s why it exists in the first place, to point us to salvation and to Jesus’ love for His Church. So together, my Love and I wait for salvation with joy and full confidence. That’s what it means to have hope – in marriage or out. In any situation, there is hope in Christ. When I’m down, my Love reminds me of our hope, and I do the same for him.

PERSEVERES:
Well it’s not all roses! And no one wakes up every morning and lives every second feeling excited and motivated to protect, trust, and hope in love. This last one is really the key to everything: we push through the hard times – the misfortunes, the injuries, the unfairness, the sorrows, the fear, the anger – and we endure. The definition even includes the adverbs “bravely and calmly,” which I would like to change to adjectives and put into the encyclopedic entry for my Love. He is brave and calm. He bravely and calmly perseveres, not just in marriage – which can get hard sometimes – but in life. He’s resolute, he knows what God has called him to do, and he will not give up.

He is an amazing example to me, and I am so filled up!

I love you, my Love!

How My Love Loves Me – Day 10

Love DOES NOT GLOAT OVER other people’s SIN, but TAKES ITS DELIGHT IN THE TRUTH.
1 Corinthians 13:6

“I told you so.”

Ooooo how we hate those words! The thing is, they usually come after some colossal act of pride, immaturity, and short-sightedness, and so their truth is what stings so badly. The salt of the truth turns to acid when the other person gloats over being right. I may have been wrong, but it can’t be right that the person is enjoying it so much!

It’s true. They may have “told me so,” but once I learned they were right, the secondary lesson I learned was that this was a know-it-all person who just likes knowing it all and rubbing it in people’s faces. Did I feel loved? NO!

Well, I hope you know where this is going because my Love is not like that at all! Has he ever “told me so”? Of course. But the difference is in his reaction when it all falls apart; he doesn’t gloat.

Here’s one of my favorite verses:

Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
~Proverbs 3:3

That’s my Love, right there. He tells the truth, kindly. When I think he’s wrong and find out later that he wasn’t, he still tells the truth, kindly, and he loves me and helps me figure out what to do with the mess I’ve made. If he gloated – or, as many translations say, “[rejoiced] at wrongdoing” – he would be building a wall between us. But we’re supposed to be one, right? He’s supposed to love me as Christ loved the Church, right? How does rejoicing over my sin help this along?

Instead, he sees the situation as an opportunity to help, to reinforce truth, and to grow with me in righteousness. Now THAT’s something to rejoice over.

I love you, my Love!

 

How My Love Loves Me – Day 9

Love KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS.
1 Corinthians 13:5

Oh, my. I am so thankful that my Love doesn’t keep a list (that I know of!), because it would be LONG. Wouldn’t everyone’s? We all fail; we’re all selfish; we’re all thoughtless at one time or another. Thinking specifically over the last (almost) 8 years of marriage, though, I see many ways I’ve failed my husband.

I’ve been disrespectful. I’ve lacked common courtesy. I’ve snapped, snubbed, and sniffed. I’ve chosen to miss opportunities to show love and viewed them instead as unfair inconveniences. I’ve been really immature. I’ve hardened my heart and hurt his.

Although I would like to say I’ve come a long way since those early days, it wouldn’t take much effort to tally up ways I’ve done all of these things in the last month, or maybe even week! Yikes.

But my Love? He keeps on loving. He keeps on forgiving. You see, he know that this is what makes a marriage; this is what makes love love. If you hold on to the past and pile up hurts in your heart, all it does is crowd out your capacity to love. After a while, all you will have is hurt, and you end up alone – at least emotionally, and maybe even literally.

It takes real strength to open your heart and your arms and to truly forgive – again and again. Someone who loves like that is rare, because only a heart truly changed and filled by Jesus can give such grace. Wow, I should go kiss my husband now.

I love you, my Love!

How My Love Loves Me – Day 8

Love is NOT IRRITABLE.
1 Corinthians 13:5

My Love is REALLY good at this one! It takes a lot to exasperate or to provoke him. Of course, we’ve had our disagreements here and there, but I would be hard-pressed to think of a time when he was just plain irritable or came home easily angered. It’s just not his nature.

One of the things I love about him is his even temper. Unlike me, he is consistently able to withhold any immediate reaction he feels in a given situation; instead, he thinks and then responds. This quality undoubtedly makes him an excellent physician, the kind you want handy in an emergency situation!

I think it speaks volumes about him that this is one of his favorite verses:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
~James 1:19-20

While I can’t say that I’ve always felt like he was quick to hear whilst in the midst of arguing with him, (because I was busy arguing and telling him he wasn’t listening), I can honestly say that he has always been an amazing example to me of the kind of temperate and gentle spirit that the verse above describes. Being slow to speak and slow to anger does not come remotely naturally to me, so God has truly given me a very great blessing in my husband.

I love you, my Love!

How My Love Loves Me – Day 7

Love DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN.
1 Corinthians 13:5

Looking over our nearly 12 years together, my Love has faced many major crossroads:

  • Where to go and what to do after earning his master’s degree? To move or to stay? To go to more school or to get a job?
  • Where to apply for residency after medical school? Which program is best? Where do we move to?
  • Which job to take after residency? The one in San Antonio, or the one near Dallas, or something else entirely?
  • What to do when it was time to move on from that job? Move again? Where? How?

In every decision, my Love would have made radically different choices if he were seeking his own. Being selfish. Vying and trying to get ahead. Looking out for number one. Living for himself.

Frankly, if that had been his heart, we would have been one of the many couples that didn’t survive long-distance. In fact, the naysayers warned that we wouldn’t make it. It’s a long way from Dallas to Miami, and two years can feel like a lifetime. But the thing is, my Love went to medical school knowing that he was there for us. As much as he was pursuing a dream, he was faithfully laying the foundation of our family’s future. It wasn’t about him; it was about us and our future children.

With every decision, he asked me. He considered me. He valued me. He listened to my thoughts, concerns, and dreams. Never wanting me to merely follow him around on his journey and forget about my own, he diligently and tenderly discussed every crossroads with me, and we prayed through them all. He never approached me with an agenda, with a list of academic or professional reasons why we needed to do this or go there; instead, he has always been open. “Here are the options so far. What do you think?”

Another way to translate the verse above is to simply say that love is not selfish. When you’re not selfish, you’re acknowledging that you’re not the only self in the room. Your hopes, dreams, logic, intelligence, accomplishments, fears, failures, faith, doubt, abilities, talents, weaknesses, rights, and present needs do not trump anyone else’s. Rather, Love seeks to know and understand as much about the hearts of other selves as he knows about his own. Now THAT describes the way my Love loves me, and I am so blessed!

I love you, my Love!

How My Love Loves Me – Day 6

Love is NOT RUDE.
1 Corinthians 13:5

New American Standard says love does not act unbecomingly; NIV says it does not dishonor others.

I’m just going to get really honest here: Sometimes I am completely appalled at the way husbands and wives (mostly wives) talk about their spouses – in front of them! Of course it’s completely wrong to say hurtful things behind their backs, too, but doing it in front of them shows that the offender has zero interest in respecting them. I mean, if they would say THAT in public, how do they treat them in private?

This kind of sarcasm and “joking” has become the norm for many people, but let’s call a spade a spade. It’s RUDE. It’s UNBECOMING. It DISHONORS OTHERS. How is this love?

I’m deeply thankful I don’t have to wrestle with this question on a personal level. I have no doubt about where my Love stands on this, because he always honors me with his words. If he does joke about me or to me, (of course we joke around!), it is never about anything that would injure me or disrespect me. Because he knows me better than anyone, there’s certainly plenty he could say that would be true (maybe even funny), yet it would be hurtful or demeaning. He would never go there. Why? Because it’s rude, unbecoming, and dishonoring. He LOVES me. LOVE doesn’t behave this way, period.

I love you, my Love!

How My Love Loves Me – Day 5

Love is NOT ARROGANT.
1 Corinthians 13:4

True, this is pretty similar to yesterday’s assertion. However, while bragging and arrogance are similar and often related, they are not really the same thing. Bragging is openly making much of yourself through embellishment and boasting, but arrogance is an attitude of the heart that doesn’t always express itself verbally. I think that’s why the Apostle Paul listed them separately, and so this is why I also address them separately.

The arrogant person is focused on himself, or, more rightly, he’s focused on a puffed-up version of himself he created in his own mind. As such, his view of the world is distorted – his own fat head is in the way – and he is unable to truly love. Everything and everyone else has to squish in around his big head so that they even fit into his field of vision, but he’s still mostly loving himself.

To truly love is to focus not on yourself, but on the person you’re loving. My Love does this. You could say that he squishes everything else around my big head! Ha! More than that, however, is how he’s been an example to me in his relationships with others. While my heart will rage against unfairness on his behalf, he will just humbly serve. While I see that he doesn’t deserve to be treated a certain way, or pressured to do this or that when something else seems more important, he simply responds in love and kindness without a second thought.

I don’t think I’ve ever known him to say no to someone because of something he needed to do for himself instead.

I also don’t think I know anyone else (especially including myself) that I could make that same statement about.

Of course, the funny thing is that he really has so many gifts, talents, skills, and accomplishments that it would be nearly understandable if he were a little arrogant. That he is not is what makes him such an amazing gift to me and to our son; he teaches us so much.

I love you, my Love!

How My Love Loves Me – Day 4

Love DOES NOT BRAG.
1 Corinthians 13:4

I looked up lexical aids to help me really understand the meaning of the Greek word used for “brag.” Of course there was the obvious association with boasting, but here’s my favorite part of what I found:

a self display, employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one’s self excessively

HA! I literally laughed out loud(*). First of all, I laughed because of the linguistically beautiful description of something so heinous and offensive. Cheers for good writing, even in a dictionary entry! And if you happen to know my Love personally, you already know the second reason why this made me laugh.

He is the LAST person to put himself on display, and he does the complete opposite of embellishing. He has so many honors and achievements that it’s easy to think myself a cotton-headed ninny-muggins compared to him. Still, he doesn’t talk about these things. If someone finds out about something great he’s done, he downplays it, excuses it, re-attributes it, or simply changes the subject at the first opportunity. He even has a beautiful plaque honoring an amazing achievement that extremely few people in the world could claim, and it’s on the floor behind me, tucked beside the filing cabinet.

Why? He earned these things. He’s brilliant. He worked his tail off for 13 years AFTER HIGH SCHOOL to achieve his position. Still, he never chooses “Dr.” in the title section of any paperwork we fill out. He would never in a million years even dream of correcting a person who says “Mr.” instead. It’s just not who he is. He would say that he was not brought up to make much of himself. He would say it’s how his dad is, and he has always respected that about him.

True.

But it’s more than that – it’s a deep humility in knowing that making much of yourself makes other people feel unloved. It makes it apparent that you love yourself more than you love them. It shows them that you believe you’re better than them. It alienates them.

My Love would never do that. Even with me, he tries to encourage me by saying I could achieve everything he did if I wanted to. That he’s not smarter than me. That he’s not better than me. To that I always say, “Yeah right!” but he is sincere. He really believes it.

My Love doesn’t brag because it would really get in the way of loving others and helping them to see how brightly they can shine. He always makes ME feel like a million bucks, that’s for sure!

I love you, my Love!

*I will never use the acronym for that expression, because it’s usually a lie in common usage. If I really did laugh out loud, I’ll tell you plainly!

How My Love Loves Me – Day 3

Love is…NOT JEALOUS.
1 Corinthians 13:4

Confession: I had no real concept of a healthy, godly relationship when I met my Love. While I had a lot of theoretical ideas based upon sermons and Christian books on dating and marriage, my actual expectations were very influenced by my culture. One of these expectations was jealousy.

I actually believed that a boyfriend expressing anger when another guy looks at his girl was an expression of his love for her. (It’s not, by the way. It’s an expression of his insecurity and, well, anger issues.)

Since my Love never exhibited this behavior, I interpreted it early on as his loving me less than he could. Or, more personally, as my not being worthy of being jealous over. Ah! What a GIANT LIE from the enemy! The Bible says that love isn’t jealous, and I certainly could have cited chapter and verse for that even in those days, but I just didn’t get it.

My Love did. He knew that I loved him. He knew that God loved him. He knew that if God had picked me for him to marry, then it would happen. He knew that if some other guy looked at me lustfully and I responded to it, then that would be a clue to him that God HADN’T picked me for him to marry! He was secure in that truth, and he just… loved me.

Still does. He trusts God, and he trusts me, and he just loves.

But there’s no “just” about it – his love is a rare one.

I love you, my Love!