Love –God’s Gift

Tomorrow is my husband and my 30th wedding anniversary.  I remember the first time I saw my husband.  We were both on staff with Cru, (a Christian ministry), working with college students in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin Staff were taking college students down to Florida for a conference being held over Spring Break and we were riding on Greyhound Buses.  My roommate pointed out the new staff guy in Wisconsin from our bus window.  Rich was standing out in the parking lot talking to some other staff.  He was tall, athletic looking, with dark curly hair, and I thought he was the most handsome man I had ever seen.  I was not looking so lovely, in my sweats, with my hair pulled back in a ponytail, and my thick round glasses on.  (I had decided to forgo my contacts and attractive clothes for comfort.  I was not looking for a husband or a boyfriend, finally happy with my single status at the ripe young age of 27.)

Rich ended up riding on our bus, and sitting in the seat right next to me, (I’m still not sure how that happened).  We talked for the entire 24-hour trip.  We had so much in common; we shared about our families, our college experiences, friends we had in common.  One of the weirdest things that we discussed is that when I graduated from college, I got a job in Columbus, OH.  Rich was finishing his degree at Ohio State University.  We went to the same church for a while, had many of the same friends, babysat for the same family, remember being at certain places at the same time—and we never once met each other or remember seeing or even hearing about each other.  It’s as if God blinded our eyes to one another.  It was not time yet for us to meet.

I remember thinking after that bus trip, “this guy is going to be one of my best friends”.  I felt so comfortable with him, like I had come home.  Rich told me later, that he knew from that bus ride, that he was going to marry me.

Forward to the night before our wedding—I stayed up until 3 a.m. talking with my friend who was one of my bridesmaids, trying to decide if I was really going to go through with the wedding.  There was a storm outside, thunder and lighting and rain—weather truly suitable to the turmoil I was feeling inside.  Could I do this?  Could I really commit my life to this man?  The fear I was experiencing was palpable.  Finally, I went to sleep, and the next morning, I woke up to sunny skies and a feeling of absolute joy and peace exploding within my heart.  God was giving me reassurance that this man was for me, and He would be with me, every step of the way.

I realize now that the reason I was so fearful about making a commitment to one man for the rest of my life, was because I was terrified about letting one person see who I really was and seeing another person for who they were.  I was nervous about the soul intimacy of marriage.  Marriage is about becoming one with another person, which in my mind meant becoming vulnerable to that person, while that person became vulnerable to me.

I did not want to do this– to be vulnerable is to open oneself to being hurt.  I had been hurt in the past and was not eager to be hurt at that level again, at the same time I did not want to hurt Rich.

Before Rich and I got engaged, I prayed and asked God, “Do you want me to marry Rich?”  God answered me, “This man needs to be loved.”  I knew God was telling me that if I married Rich, I was not to hold anything back.

The Holy Spirit has been my faithful teacher.  Nudging me to apologize when I’ve been wrong.  Spurring me on to act out love—even when I do not feel love.  Giving me the courage to be vulnerable, and share who I really am, even when I am filled with fear.  Giving me the faith and patience to accept my husband, realizing it is God’s role to transform my husband in His timing, just as it is God’s role to transform me.

In addition to all these things, God has brought other brothers and sisters in Christ into our lives to help us along the way.  There are times in our lives that I don’t know how we would have endured without this help.  Particularly after our son, Sean died.

I must be honest and say that while at times the Body of Christ has been amazing, it has also been disappointing.   The Body is made up of people, and people—the people to whom we are married, or the people with whom we go to church are not perfect – not by a long shot.  (I include myself as part of the “People”).

Therefore, I have come to glory in what Jesus has done on the cross in dying for us amazing and many times broken people. 

Jesus’s death on the cross is the perfect expression of love.  He sees us for who we really are, and He loves us anyway.  He demonstrated that love by dying for us, so we could belong to Him, and be with Him, forever.

In the movie, “Sleepless in Seattle”, there is a scene where the woman in it describes a scene from another movie—a classic, called “An Affair to Remember:.  In, “An Affair to Remember”, the heroine is in an accident and is paralyzed, and the hero finds her, (after searching for her for a long time), and finds out she is paralyzed, and they embrace and he cries, “I wish it had been me, not you”.  (I always, always cry during this part, as it hits that part of me that recognizes true sacrificial unconditional love—the longing within each human heart.)

This is the love that God has for each of us.  He sees us for who we truly are and loves us unconditionally.  He loves us sacrificially.  So even when others disappoint, God does not.  (Sometimes, that does not “feel” like the truth – but it is the truth, even when it does not “feel” like it.  Our feelings can lie to us, but God and His love letter to us—The Bible—never lie).

It has helped me to remember how forgiven I am, when I need to forgive my husband.  Mostly, it helps to remember how loved I am.  I have been loved with an everlasting love.  You have been loved with an everlasting love.   This love will never fail.  This love will never, ever leave.  Hebrews 13:5

                      So Be Encouraged!!