(Guest Post by Molly Hilbert)
I don’t think I’m all that bad at this whole wife thing. At least, I’m a pretty good wife when it comes to those things that have stereo-typically been assigned as “wifely duties.” I realize that not every woman enjoys cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and hosting, but these are just some of my favorite things to spend my time doing. I love knowing that my creation in the kitchen or my freshly cleaned apartment are able to benefit someone else, whether that be my husband or someone we have invited into our home.
I love being married. And I really, really love my husband. I tell him that I love him every day and I mean it, or at least I think I do, every time that I say it. I admit, though, that I have had a thought, a hesitation, that has pestered my heart and mind these past few months: I don’t really love him.
At least, I don’t truly love him in the way that God has called me to.
I love married life and what it involves. I enjoy making dinner for us, but I admit that there are times when I do it with a bad attitude because I’m tired (let’s be honest, I’m really just plain grumpy). Sometimes I chop up vegetables forcefully out of frustration, not out of a desire to get them diced up faster (thank the Lord that I still have all my fingers!).
I enjoy making our apartment a clean and welcoming space for us to be together, but I admit that sometimes I get really upset when I see a misplaced sock lying on the living room floor or an empty glass sitting by the couch (and then I just blame it on my OCD).
I enjoy listening to Matt tell me about the details of his day, but there are times that my mind is far away while he’s talking. It’s usually listing off all the things that need to be done before I go to sleep that night.
I absolutely love when Matt opens up the deep places of his heart with me. Marriage means seeing the deepest places of a person and being one with them in a way that means you feel what they feel. I admit, though, that there are times my feelings seem a lot more important to me than his do (whether it be sadness, joy, despair, or excitement).
I enjoy figuring out adulthood together and sharing life with him, but I sure do know how to nag him about little things such as socks, dirty dishes, and books and papers lying around the apartment.
I enjoy being Matt’s wife, but sometimes this is where I put my identity. This results in idolizing him and placing a pressure on him to be something that he is not supposed to be (my god or my savior). This is not loving him.
I enjoy working and bringing in an income to support us as a family and Matt as my husband. I love knowing that my job is helping Matt pursue God’s calling on his life (and, therefore, our life together), but I sure know how to complain to Matt about how tired I am or how long my day was.
[box]“Love each other as I have loved you.”
This is what stops me in my tracks. This is what makes me realize that I don’t really love my husband all the time, even when I think I do. Jesus’ words here are challenging, sobering, and humbling.
Jesus’ love for us is one of sacrifice, of giving up Himself so that He could give all of Himself to us (Philippians 2:8). Jesus’ love for us is one that seeks our good, all of the time (Romans 8:28). Jesus’ love is patient and kind. It doesn’t envy or boast. It’s not proud or dishonoring. It is selfless and is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs (now that’s a tough one for some of us!). It protects, hopes, trusts, and perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13). He calls us to love others (including our husbands) with this same love.
In the same passage (1 Corinthians 13), Paul says:
[box]“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).[/box]
In my marriage, this passage could sound something like this:
[box]“If I cook dinner and do the dishes but do not do it with love, then it means nothing. If I clean the apartment and host friends, but do it begrudgingly or out of obligation – without love – then it is worth nothing. If I work so that my husband and I can live out God’s calling on our lives, but complain to my husband and use my tiredness as an excuse to be grumpy – rather than working a job to support and show love to my husband – then it is nothing. Even if I gave up everything – family, hometown, friends – to support us as a family and to help Matt as my husband, but do it with a bad attitude and without love, then it is nothing.”[/box]
Ouch. Do I really know how to love?
It is Christ’s kind of love that has the strength of commitment, the strength of resolve to love even when you don’t feel like it. Matt and I are passionate newlyweds now, but what happens when we are older and we go through rough times in our relationship and we “no longer feel like loving”? Christ’s love withstands this; Christ’s love goes deeper than this. Christ’s love is not a feeling (though it is no less than this); it is a commitment. A resolve. A deep oneness that cannot be broken by mere feeling (or lack thereof). Christ’s love goes deep.
Charles Spurgeon writes of how Christ loved his disciples:
“He grieved with them in their griefs, and rejoiced with them in their joys. He entered into most intimate fellowship with them in their varied experiences. Let us try to do the same with our brothers and sisters [and husbands] . . . let us weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Nothing tends so greatly to oil the wheels of life as a little loving sympathy; let us be always ready with a good supply of it wherever it is needed.”
Yes, I love my husband. I pray, though, that I will continue to learn to really, truly love him with the same love that Christ has shown me… a love that is selfless, that sacrifices, that sympathizes, and that forgives because of the debt forgiven me by Christ (Ephesians 4:32).
How have you learned to love, really love?