I first met my friend Lauren when we were both middle schoolers at church. The two of us were instant friends, and I was drawn to her humor, her smile, and all that we had in common: our grade, our sports, and our passion for life. Through the years, we've shared our hearts over endless Starbucks frappes, poured our minds into scripture, and kept up our friendship through miles, years, marriages, and moves. I'm so thankful for Lauren, her wisdom, and her heart for the Lord. She has navigated marriage (through her husband's residency and med school) with such grace. Thankful for her heart and the words she's sharing in today's moment.
A few weeks ago, I was browsing my Facebook feed and I came across an article titled, “If your partner doesn’t make you feel these 11 ways, it isn’t true love.” Ways to tell included, “This person should make you happy,” “This person should make you excited about life,” “This person should make you feel at peace with yourself,” and the list went on.
As a newly married Christian woman, this article scared me to death. Mostly because marriage stretches so far beyond what we “expect” or “think” marriage should be like. As women, we grow up with fairy tale stories about how couples meet and ride off into the sunset together in only a matter of days. Society has put into our minds that love should be just like romantic comedies. My partner should make me feel these amazing feelings that I’ve never felt before. I should get butterflies when I see him. My heart should beat faster when I’m near them. If it doesn’t, then you better end it because it isn’t true love. To me, that just doesn’t sound right. I was truly bothered by that article.
I believe that men and women today are expecting our marriages to live up to “feelings.” And unfortunately, when we base our marriages on feelings, those feelings go away. And if we are expecting our spouses or partners to give us purpose in life, it won’t happen. We are with people that make mistakes, just like we do, that need forgiveness, purpose, and love. And the Bible says we will never get that fulfillment from others. We get that fulfillment from God who should be at the center of our lives before we even think about being with someone else. “To know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God,” Eph. 3:17-19. If we expect life to look exactly like it does in the movies and blame our spouse for our own unhappiness or fulfillment, it will not end well.
So according to that verse, what should make us full? God’s love. If we can’t understand God’s love for our own lives, how will we ever understand how to truly love our spouses? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
God doesn’t say he loved the world because the world gave him fulfillment. He doesn’t love the world because what the world gives him. In fact, in Ephesians it specifically says that nothing we do will earn Gods love in our lives. “For by grace ye are saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Eph. 2:8
God loves the ugly, the nasty, the broken, and the shamed. He is never disappointed. He is never basing his love off of our performance for him. He loves us no matter what. And in our marriage, that is what Caleb and I have been trying to do.
God doesn’t base his love off of what we can give him- so why would we base our love for each other on successes or failures? We want to focus on what we can give to each other, not take.
Now trust me, this is so much easier said than done. It takes a lot of work to put yourself second and think of your spouse first. But when we have done it- when we are really in God’s word, getting our love, our happiness, and our excitement about life from Him, we love each other in the purest, most beautiful way… and the way God intended!
Believe me, I still have a long way to go. My whole life revolved around boys growing up. I was constantly seeking a man’s approval in my life. I was desperate for love and attention and every single relationship I was in never worked out because I was expecting that person to give me what I craved so badly. I wanted purpose, I wanted acceptance, I wanted worth and I wanted love. All the while, my Bible gathered dust on my nightstand.
When I finally gave up and picked up that book to seek God’s love for me, and let God be enough for me, Caleb walked into my life with the same attitude. I am so thankful I married a man that loves God more than me. YES I said it!! He loves God MORE than he loves me. And that is just the way I like it. That is what I believe makes our marriage so special. Its what I believe has made this past year (intern year of residency) worth every struggle we’ve faced.
If I could leave you with anything it would be this…
God will make you happy: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13
God will make you excited about life: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
God will make you feel at peace with yourself: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7
God loves you and will ALWAYS love you: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Those are just a few of the thousands of promises in that book. So I encourage you to seek that happiness in Christ; seek the peace, seek the joy, but must importantly seek His love. Find verses that minister to you as a wife, as a husband, and let that love that Christ fills you with overflow into your marriage and your relationships with others.
Don't Lauren's words speak such sweet truth? I'm so thankful for her heart, her friendship, and her willingness to share her story. I love the idea of focusing on what we can give to each other in marriage, not take. What a great reminder of the one who truly loves us and always will, with no strings attached.
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