Relationships are hard.
Loving someone more than yourself, being selfless and patient, and putting another person’s happiness above your own is no easy task to take on. Every guideline and standard that God has set for us in His Word to follow in a relationship are hard things to keep up with.
Lots of grace. Forgiveness. Patience. Lots of humility.
I’m still a pretty good distance from marriage, but I desire a God-centered marriage more than anything else in life. So learning how to use God’s love that He has put inside me is so important to me. The unfortunate thing is, the deeper I go into learning about loving like God loves, the more clearly I begin to see my weaknesses; and the more I realize that sustaining a Godly relationship throughout changing circumstances- good days, bad days, distance, hurt feelings, disappointment- is not a chore *ahem* privilege for the faint of heart. I’m realizing more and more that the sincerity of God’s love towards us is far deeper than I could ever understand.
The strain that has been put on my relationship this past school year- with distance, conflicting schedules, and added stress that we haven’t had to deal with before, has revealed a lot to me about the humble, self-sacrificing nature of love. It has also revealed to me how short I fall in showing this unselfish love.
*side note: girls, when you find someone that shows you unconditional love despite your failures, keep him. I’m not talking about apathetically accepting your apologies or half-heartedly attempting to understand your weaknesses. I’m talking about the nights that you’re in tears because you have hurt the one you love, and he sits there and thanks God for you. I’m talking about when you give up and turn your back on him and he continues to choose you anyways. I’m talking about true, sincere, acceptance of your failures. When you find the one that understands your shortcomings rather than judges them, hold on to him. I think I’m learning that any failure can be overcome with the right amount of genuine, Godly, love.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
Learning to love like God loves is important, because ultimately, in a God-orchestrated marriage, our love reflects God’s love.
I love the way Stephen and Alex Kendrick put it in, The Love Dare Day by Day: A Year of Devotions for Couples, “God masterfully orchestrated marriage to reveal the beauty of His glory… Our love is founded in the truth that God is love. And our love provides a living portrait of the gospel- Christ’s unconditional love for His people, His church, [and] His bride”.
If I don’t love my boyfriend/spouse/etc… selflessly, unconditionally, kindly, patiently, humbly, etc… what am I saying about God’s love for me? How we love others should reflect Christ’s love for us.
Looking back into past relationships, I used to place ALL the blame of the failure of those relationships on the other person. I used to believe that I knew what it meant to genuinely love unconditionally (can I get a resounding L O L), so obviously the reason it didn’t work out is because the other person was in the wrong. However, I didn’t know the first thing about truly putting another person’s happiness above my own, and even though I’ve grown A TON, I still don’t know how to do it that well.
Selfless loving is not simply going to Zaxby’s even though you really wanted Chick-Fil-A, nor is it going to see their movie instead of the one you wanted to see. I’m learning that loving humbly and unconditionally means encouraging their dreams even though those dreams might put distance between the two of you for a period of time and a burden on the relationship. I’m learning that selfless loving is giving up your time, comfort, energy, and sometimes happiness in order to support their growth and joy. Loving someone like God loves means showing patience and understanding rather than judgment when they fail.
True love looks a lot like laying down your pride and choosing to show forgiveness and understanding, even though you may never get recognition or thanks for it.
True love looks like putting down your wants and needs in order to fulfill the needs of someone else.
Sincere, honest to goodness, true love looks like consistently choosing the joy and comfort of another person in the easy moments and in the difficult moments.
True love looks a lot like Christ laying His life down for people who hated Him.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” John 15:13
The depth of humility that true, Godly, love requires is deeper than I could have ever imagined. The love of God is so deep and so sincere that I could write until I draw my last breath and never do it justice. I want that love inside me. I want that deep, sincere, love of God to flow freely from my heart. For anyone in the position that I’m in- too young for marriage, but still looking seriously into a future husband- the best thing that you can do at this point is learn how to love like God loves. Use the time you have now to truly embrace the depth of God’s love, and learn how to show it towards others.