Marriage is [and can be] AWESOME
If someone only listened to popular media outlets and read the statistics about marriage, it would seem that marriage as an institution is dying out. And then, if one spent some time watching films about marriage and other television shows, one would think that those in marriage tend to be unhappy with the arrangement. Adultery, spousal neglect, and idiocy that makes comedy work – also creates an accepted norm for marriage that devalues the relationship.
We’re talking about “love” in our youth group, and I’ve been thinking about how our culture sees love in a 1 dimensional way. Love is often seen as merely a feeling, and it can come and go. If I hear someone on television say, “I just don’t love your mother anymore,” or “He doesn’t make me feel like he used to,” I’m going to walk out of the room. Love is more than a feeling.
After 7 and a half years of marriage, Amanda and I are still finding new ways to be in love. In fact yesterday we had another “first” as we bought a second bike, and for the first time, took a bike ride together around the neighborhood. At the end of the evening we were both talking about some other “firsts” we could do together – and I realized that every day there are more firsts, more exciting adventures, and more things to discover about my amazing wife – who I value because she grows into a more amazing person each day right in front of me. I just have to keep my eyes open and my mind aware to recognize it. I realize also that the second that I stop paying attention to her, is also the moment that I stop treating her like she deserves. If I truly LOVE my wife, I will know her, and connect with her each and every day in every way that I can. Other than my relationship with God, she should be (and I try to make her) my highest priority. Its amazing what a bike ride together can remind you of. Hopefully our next first together will be going on a vacation out of the US together. That’s a dream of hers.
More than my own opinion, in 1 Corinthians 13, love is presented by the Apostle Paul, as more of an all encompassing worldview rather than an emotion, or something that comes and goes on the wind:
1 Corinthians 13, (NIV, Emphasis added)
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Here is the same scripture read for you if you would like to watch as a moment of devotion:
Honestly, if love, as presented in 1 Corinthians 13, became the foundation for marriages, it would remain the rock of a strong culture as it has been in the past. Unfortunately, like all things, we forget over time what the simplest of things mean. Living a life in LOVE, and not for oneself, is a difficult task – it is more than a task – it is a process. A process of perfection, in which we realize our imperfections and realize that we are not always loving and course correct ourselves, rather than continuing to drive towards cliffs that will inevitably destroy our relationships. A marriage that is not making progress towards the goal of being better is going to disintegrate. It is always a work in process, as we prioritize our lives [God -> Spouse -> Family ->Work/Church/Education/Friends]. Our order of operations need to flow from the strength of God’s love, and not our own. One day, working on our own, we will run dry and that is why we must go to the source of life itself to replenish ourselves for the “other” person in our lives that we have promised to be One with.
The fact is – Marriage is [and can be] Awesome. But like all things, there is daily maintenance that needs to be done. Doug Fields, a youth pastor in California, recently talked about marriage and how couples really want to connect more (as opposed to just talking all the time). In order to connect, you have to set aside good portions of time with no agenda other than your spouse. Put aside the “To Do” lists, stop thinking about your kids or your job for a while, and look into each others eyes. Hold each others hands. Feel the wedding rings click together and remember putting them on one another and promising to live your life together. And ultimately, rely on God’s strength by praying for one another and caring about needs without asking anything in return. Connect and remember how to love.