Last month, Emily Freeman encouraged her readers to write a letter to their teenage selves. I participated in the project and also remembered another time in my life when I could have used a letter from the future:
Right after I got married.
Oh, how terribly selfish I was 13 years ago. Truth be known, a me-first streak still dances within my core … but when I first got married, that streak ran wide, deep and wild. Combined with ridiculously high expectations and the fact that a healthy marriage requires hard work, my self-centered attitude reeled in heaps of confusion, bitterness and regret.
So if I could magically send a letter through the portals of time, here’s what I’d write to my young, willful self.
You did it. You realized a dream that formed in your heart during girlhood. You got married. Beauty and happiness filled your wedding day. And about that man you promised yourself to … let’s just say you chose well.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. You don’t want to admit it … not to anyone … not even yourself, but you’re thinking it. You’re thinking that getting married might have been a big, fat mistake. You’re wondering whether you’re really “marriage material,” because the past six months haven’t exactly been a fairytale.
It’s not that you don’t love your husband. You do. And it’s not that you doubt his love for you. You rightfully believe your new spouse adores you. In fact, knowing you are truly the only girl your man has ever loved still renders you breathless. To be someone’s first and only romantic love is a gift without price.
But what you don’t understand is the power love holds.
I’m not referring to love in its sugary, syrupy form. Don’t get me wrong: Having an abundance of passion and romance in a marriage is important. But that type of love isn’t enough.
Right now, I am talking about love that’s laced with grit and tenacity. The kind of love that is not limited by perception, personal desires or tangible flaws. The kind of love that’s a choice and not a mere feeling.
I’m referring to agape love … God’s love. The very same love that conquered the cross on Calvary is the only type of love capable of clobbering the attacks that routinely assault marriages.
So here’s what I want you to do the next time you find yourself wondering if your marriage can survive:
Remember those eminent verses from 1 Corinthians. You know the ones I am writing about, because they often are recited at weddings.
Angela, don’t just remember the words, live them.
Even when you’re exhausted.
Even when you’re sick.
Even when you’re hurt.
Even when you’re angry.
Even when you’re lonely.
Even when you’re tired of trying … tired of listening … tired of hoping.
You need to give love, accept love and live in love.
Here are a few examples of actionable ways to love your husband according to God’s word.
Love is patient. Earning his Ph.D. will take more than seven years (I know, sweetie, I know). Encourage him every step of the way. And after he does earn that title … well, life actually is going to get harder instead of easier. Breathe deeply and don’t give up.
Love is kind. Don’t allow your fears and feelings of inadequacy swindle you into thinking that it is acceptable to lash out at your husband.
Love does not envy. It does not matter how many of your friends moved into new houses with fancy furniture after their weddings. Don’t waste a moment fretting about what you want and what you do not have. Instead, look at that man who pledged his life to you, and thank God for the priceless gift of unconditional love.
Love does not boast. And love is not proud. Love your husband, but don’t try to out-love him. Marriage is not a competition. And when you make a mistake, admit it, apologize for it, accept forgiveness and let it go.
Love is not rude. And love is not self-seeking. Respect your husband and appreciate the man God created. And as you implement ideas to honor him and make him feel special, do not do so in the hopes of winning something from him in return.
Love is not easily angered … it keeps no record of wrongs. Your first apartment together will measure less than 700 square feet. Believe it or not, you’ll live in smaller. As you read this, money is tight, and it gets even tighter. You and your husband won’t always agree. There will be plenty of opportunities for anger to barge in. Don’t allow it to get the upper hand. Ever. And when your husband makes a mistake, accept his apology and bury the mistake in a pit as deep as the one in which you would want your mistakes to reside.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
In short, love is powerful. So very powerful. Use that power as it was intended to be used. Wield love not like a weapon, but like a healing agent.
You see, when you exchanged promises and rings with the love of your life, you signed up ”for better and for worse, as long as you both shall live.” And sometimes, there is a whole heap of worse before you see more of the better. But if you hold onto Christ, and love as He commands, your marriage will be draped with grace and blessing.
It won’t be easy. Trust me, it will get messy and even downright ugly at times. But it will be worth it. It will be beautiful. And remember, you’re not in it alone.
1 Corinthians 13: 1-9 (New American Standard Bible)
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
By: Angela NazworthLeave a Comment