An Unexpected Gift
Wedding days are filled with delight and anticipation. Friends and family create an air of excitement. I said my wedding vows teary eyed at the tender age of 22. Over the past 12 years of marriage, we experienced a variety of opportunities to grow our love. Financial hardships, moves, and medical issues involving our kids to name a few.
Some of those challenges I embraced. The majority, I want to close my eyes tight, cross my fingers and hope that when I open my eyes the problem(s) will go away.
During Justin’s recent medical issues, a gift of opportunity was presented. The gift?
An opportunity to experience a deeper richer love with my husband. In order to experience this gift, a little unwrapping is required. This unwrapping isn’t like Christmas morning with lots of glitzy packages. Its more like a snake shedding a layer of skin.
I had a serious wake up call when Justin asked me go with him to one of his doctors appointment. We received an MRI showing “extensive damage.” I knew at the appointment many scary words would come up, like the C word. Paralyzed by fear, I looked at my computer and replied I had appointments during that time.
I hoped he would let me off the hook. I paused and waited…..Waited a little more…hoping the moment would pass. When I looked over, I saw a pair of sad baby blues eyes looking back at me. Very simply, Justin told me what he needed from me, my presence and support.
Medical stuff scares me. Medical stuff involving my love terrifies me. Numbs me. Stops me cold.
My instinct in that moment was self protection. Protecting myself above the needs of my husband. In that instant, I felt the sting of my self centeredness leaving me disappointed with myself.
Times like these often leads me to moments of reflection, prayer and journaling. Several days later, I read some of the Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. In the book, she describes courage as the willingness to suffer with someone.
Over the coming weeks and months, I knew my love for my husband needed to grow. I needed to be willing to suffer with him. The love I had for him wasn’t enough because my self centeredness was keeping me from loving him the way I needed to love and the way he needed me to love him.
Our capacity to love is like a muscle. Muscles can be very weak and flimsy or they can be as strong, strong as Iron Man muscles. The only way for muscles to grow is through perseverance, determination and encountering resistance.
In a recent sermon at my church, our pastor shared if we don’t love well, nothing we do, nothing we say, nothing we believe, nothing we accomplish will matter. Ouch! When I heard this after experiencing my duck and cover about the doctor’s appointment – I knew I was given an opportunity to love better.
The following describes the identity of love:
Love is a command. Love is a choice. Love is a conduct. Love is a commitment.
In today’s culture, we often misuse the word love. We have diluted, polluted, substituted this word. Here is what love is:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (MSG)
I’m not here to shame myself or for you to shame yourself. What I would like to ask you, is how well are you loving those around you? Are you encountering hardships that may be opportunities for you to love deeper?
The world we live in needs real love. Our families need real love. Not a substituted, polluted, or diluted version of love.
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