Let me firstly apologise for not blogging here for a few weeks. I’ve been otherwise occupied! During that time, my mind has been busy mulling over a number of thoughts. However I’d like to take some time to let these thoughts settle in my mind before presenting them – and perhaps it would also be wise to actually remember what they were! I do remember that there were very profound and/or funny!
The thoughts I am going to present here only just occurred to me very recently, as in yesterday. It is not as if they came to me as a profound revelation, as many of my thoughts do come. Rather, I sat working these thoughts out in my own mind. However, what I’m going to express here is an answer to some questions that I have asking myself and tussling with in my mind for some months now. (I note even as I am writing this that I have been asking these questions of myself, rather than God. Hmm – can that be good?!)
I remember that in practically every Christian discourse on relationships, that I have ever attended or listened to, or read, from every flavour of Christian denomination to which I might reasonably expose myself: Pentecostal, Baptist, Evangelical, Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian – some of these overlap, and perhaps there are a few others that I cannot think of right now; the same message has always been preached: “Love is not about you, love is about the other person!” When people say this, they are 100% right. I am not writing this post to disagree with people – for a change! However, I am going to phrase my post so that it sounds as if it contradicts this statement, by saying: “Love is not about the other person – love is 100% about you!”
Now this might sound as if I am contradicting what other people say, but I hope that you will see as I write it that it does not contradict at all what other people say, but is actually in total agreement. I hope as I write it you will also see why I find it more valuable to phrase it this way.
When people talk about love, when someone has found someone else whom they decide to marry, for instance, the impression that tends to be given, is that there is something so phenomenally special about this person that has provoked in me a desire, a wish, a longing to love them with all my effort, my commitment, my passion, my faithfulness, forever. The point I am making in this post is that that is simply not true of any human being, that they are genuinely that phenomenal to that extent. Even if someone starts off looking amazing, because they are human beings, we can trust that they are desperately flawed as we all are, and we can trust that we will encounter those flaws, especially in the close proximity of marriage. (It pains me to write this as I am obviously waiting for a man who is identical to Jesus in terms of Christlikeness. I prefer to dream that somewhere out there, and bound to cross my path sometime soon, there is a man who is not quite so desperately flawed!)
So my point is that if I am going to love someone in this way; if I am going to continue loving someone in this way throughout marriage, as his various flaws are revealed one after the other in dazzling technicolor, it is not because of him. It is not because something in him renders him “worthy” of being loved to such an extent. So many times he might demonstrate that he is not worthy of being loved this way (as I will likely demonstrate the same thing to him). Rather it is because of me, because I have already made up my mind that I am going to love this man this way, come what may.
This is what love truly is in this context. It is pushing yourself to difficult sacrifices for the sake of this man. (If it is not difficult, then it is not a sacrifice!) It is when you give of what you don’t truly have for the sake of blessing someone else, and they throw your effort into your face…but you carry on giving anyway. You carry on wishing the best for them. You carry on praying. If I made a sacrifice for someone, if I gave of something that cost me a lot to someone, and they totally despised it, or me, or failed to show gratitude, normally speaking I would not make the same sacrifice again. My tendency would be to just ditch the person altogether, for not respecting my time or my effort. So then, for me to resolve to carry on loving them, to carry on making the same sacrifices endlessly, it is not merely difficult, it is actually impossible. If my commitment to love my husband was based on an ongoing evaluation of his worthiness, then at that point he would definitely have shown himself to be completely unworthy. So at that point then, continuing to love him is not about him. It is entirely about me. It is about my own commitment to love, to forgiveness, to commitment itself. So whenever someone says or implies about their “intended” that there is something about them that inspires this great love, that is so wrong. Because there definitely will be times – this is an absolute certainty – when they clearly and irrefutably demonstrate that they are not worthy of this extent of love. If you are going to demonstrate this level of love in your marriage, it can only be because you have made up your mind that this is how you are going to love them – full stop. Love is all about you. Let us get this thought fixed firmly in our heads: “The love I will demonstrate in my marriage is all about me!”
1 Corinthians 13v8:
Love never fails…