Each Monday in “Charlyne Cares,” we invite a stander to share their thoughts. Here is what is on the heart of Melissa from Texas:
We find the definition of love in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 13.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.”
It is obvious to me after reading this definition that I did not love my spouse the way God had instructed me to. I had the “feelings” of love for him. I have learned a valuable lesson since beginning my stand. Like most of you, I now spend time daily in the Word and I read books on love and marriage. The lesson that I’ve learned is just because we have “feelings” of love for someone does not mean we are really loving them. Ultimately love is a choice. Love is to sacrifice my own wants, needs, desires and feelings for the wants, needs, desires and feelings of the one I love. The key is to be able to do this without pity and anger. No one makes you do these things! You make the choice and you do them out of love. Love is sacrifice without self pity and anger.
Christ died for us. We all know that He could have taken Himself off that cross anytime He felt like it. His sacrifice was made out of unselfish love for us. He was not angry because He thought He “had to do it”. He did it because He loved us even though He knew that we would continue to fail Him and hurt Him.
Christ knew that we would never be able to return that same level of commitment and love to Him. This is the way that we are to love our spouse. After asking myself some hard questions, I saw that I had failed my husband in this. I would like to give you some examples of how. Maybe some of them will sound familiar;
“Love is patient” –
How many times did I rush my husband to make a decision? How many times did I wake him early in order to do my will? How often was I angry when he came home late from work? I even hurried him out of the bathroom on hundreds of occasions.
“Love is Kind” –
Many times in my impatience to get somewhere, I told my husband he was primping in front of the mirror. How many times did I speak unkind words to him because of anger and resentment? How many times did I point out his mistakes? I could not see the plank in my own eye because I was too busy trying to get the speck out of his! (Matthew 7:3)
“Love does not envy” –
How often did I envy my husband because of his physical appearance? He is a beautiful man and my own dislike for myself made me envious of him. Many times I teased him about his vanity when he was only caring for himself in a way that I would not. My low self-esteem made me very jealous. How envious was I that I perceived his role in life as easier than mine? Until the Lord opened my eyes, I felt that I had the short end of the stick!
“Love does not boast and it is not proud” –
I would often “toot my own horn”. How many times did I belittle or shame my husband because he could not do the things that I could do? I cannot do half of what he can! Why could I not see that we both complimented each other in our strengths and weaknesses? This is the way that God intended it to be.
“Love is not rude or self-seeking” –
How many times did I tell my husband that he was selfish when it was I that was being selfish? I was very demanding. I put all of my needs above his. The saddest part is, he took my words to heart. I believe that when he left, he not only disliked me, but also himself because he believed all my words and he felt that he had failed us.
“Love is not easily angered” –
Easily angered could have been my middle name! My husband feared me in a way. I’m sure that he felt like he was walking on thin ice whenever he was around me. I was angry about his lack of communication, but he was afraid to speak! Several times he told me that he could not express his feelings because there were consequences from me for whatever he said. I could not understand that at the time.
“Love keeps no record of wrongs” –
This is a big one for me! I told my husband recently that I realized that I had been hanging on to every wrong thing that he had ever done to me. I took all these wrongs and put them in a box. It was my “defense” box. Anytime we had conflict or an argument, I would reach in my box and take out one of my weapons. (This was not a conscious thing). These weapons were effective at winning the battle, but they helped me to lose the war. My heart was filled with the anger and pain of unforgiveness. My husband always asked me to forgive him, but I was unable to because of the hardness of my heart.
“Love does not delight in evil but always rejoices in truth” –
I don’t believe that I have ever delighted in evil but I know that I was blind to my own behavior. Often the enemy will blind us to the truth. I thought my behavior was justified, that I had a “right” to feel the way I did. This is just one of the lies that helps to destroy our relationships.
After my husband left, I turned to God because the pain was so great that I could not handle it alone. This was my “road to Damascus” experience.
“Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he was able to see again.” Acts 9:18
When I turned to God, I asked Him to change my husband, reveal the truth to him and bring him home. Instead God revealed the truth to me.
“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” –
This is the way I long to love my husband now. By hoping, persevering and never giving up! But I never would have felt that way if God had not dealt with me. I failed my husband in the past. I hurt him without realizing it. I honestly felt that I was the best wife I could be. Hard to believe after reading the above list! I did many loving things for my husband, but did I truly love my spouse the way God intended?
The description of love found in 1 Corinthians 13 is the love of Christ. It is impossible for any of us to love another in this way all the time. This is perfect love, and only Christ is perfect. But this is the kind of love that we should strive to give every day. We will only be able to do this if we allow God to change us.
All standers are believing and praying for the restoration of their marriage. When God brings your prodigal home do you want to make the same mistakes? Do you ever want to go through this again? Do you want to put your children through this again? Of course not! Humble yourself before God. Ask Him to remove the scales from your eyes and change you.
I am not trying to diminish the wrongs done to you by your spouse, but we cannot focus on them. We have to lay those wrongs at the foot of the cross and let them go once and for all. Many, like me, spent years trying to change their spouse. Where did it get you? We have to learn to love God’s way, even if we feel that they will continue to fail us and hurt us and even if our spouse doesn’t return the same level of commitment and love. You can continue to pray for your spouse and let God do any changing that needs to be done in them. He is much better at it than we are.
“Do you believe that I am able to do this? According to your faith will it be done to you.” Matthew 9:28-29