Love and Marriage
Today I find myself reflecting on 49 years of marriage, of the love that keeps it and of the things that sustain so long a journey. To attribute such success to unfolding wisdom would simply cloud the reality of my failure and dismiss the grace of a forgiving God that has made allowance for so much of my ineptitude.
Only arrogance would claim that such success belongs only to those who believe in God, but, for those that do, how marriage works is dependent upon our own surrender. My reflection simply confirms and illuminates His instruction upon my heart. There is no secret to a good marriage. It's goodness lies in my submission not to another, but to Him, through the life of another. The difficulty in marriage is that self(less)ness lies in such close proximity to self(ish)ness. Love is a command "to do" and it stands in stubborn opposition to the self and the need "to feel."
Our preoccupation with finding love, with feeling love and with getting love, is an insistence to command the terms of our own surrender when God has, so long ago, already written for us the terms. It is simply the surrender of "me for thee."
I know of nothing more correspondent to all the demands of my heart and mind, than to serve God. That I can do so without loving "her" is folly . To measure my failing in so important an endeavor, humbles my spirit and moves me to consider the wonder of a grace that allows me to rise up and try again. It isn't that I fail to love, but like water, I pursue the course of least resistance.
We put forth such ordinary effort into such an extraordinary call. Our attempt to love one another is too often, compromised by the measure of return. The love we give is too often, proportionate to the love we get. Our own need too often reigns supreme, as it silently advances beneath the crown of our own conditions. We wave our self made scepter about our little kingdoms and give only if we get, but, I am reminded today, that love is the thing I get "to do" and not the thing "I do relative to what I get." It isn't that feeling loved is unimportant; It is simply a better follower than it is a leader. To love is a decision and that decision acts as a compass for feeling to follow. As I decide to love her, I can look over my shoulder and see that feeling is always close behind.
My prayer today, is that God would grant me the extraordinary means to love, not because "I am loved" nor because "I get love" but because, the depth of love which I can come to know, is proportionate to the diminishing of myself for the lifting up of another. He reminds me that love begins with the decision to love and though contrary to human nature and opposed to the selfishness that would seek to reign in my life, my hope is crowned, not in who "I am" but in who "He is". He remains my hope against a will that is at war with my own surrender.
Who she is, is "His gift" to me and I have been given leave to unwrap whoever she is, one day at a time. To love her begins in the daily decision to do so. It is the wonder of a heart given to Him that in turn, bends my stubborn will and does contrary to my nature, turn its attention outward to another. Such love is made authentic in the acknowledgement that she was given for such a cause, by He, who in defining love, said that love is pure when unencumbered by condition. Condition simply illustrates a bartered love and diminishes love's authenticity.
Today, I will bask in the goodness of a Gracious God and delight in the mystery that unfolds as I unwrap, one day at a time, the gift that defines His good pleasure upon my life. Today I will remember that marriage is not simply an agreement between she and I; It is an agreement between myself and God. Today I will thank Him that I am empowered with what He Himself, revered above all else. I am allowed to love.