Sometimes you sit back and wonder how things can go so horribly wrong. Relationships can be a hard row to hoe from the outset for example, or with great incongruity and incompatibility surfacing as time passes. You keep hoping and can hardly believe that it could possibly get quite that bad… Lord, why? There is nothing but hurt and heartbreak here. Is there another way to do things?
The hard but only correct answer that comes is that it is because people have not learned to practice Love! Not the natural love that’s as easy as falling off a log in the beginning of a relationship, but the divine Love that does not seek It’s own way, the Love of the long haul, the Love that sees the faults of another, but still chooses to love in spite of it all! This is the Love that endures despite hardships and does not give up when the going gets tough. It must be embraced by both husband and wife.
This is the kind of Love God extends toward us. It is called “Grace” and is the only thing that can turn a hell into a heaven. Grace specializes in such transformative miracles when it is called forth and practiced.
In a marriage this is the only sort of Love that works and brings results. Ideally it is extended by both partners toward one another. It is the Love that must be intentionally and consciously chosen. It is not the love of warm gooey feelings because you are always doing what I want you to, the way I want it done, and when I want it done. It is the Love that, when it hears the kind of “advice” being given here, does not look at the other and say, “There, you see? That’s what I want from you!” But instead, it looks within and says, “I have failed at this! Please forgive me, and let us strive to love as God loves us.”
This is the Love that wants to love through us. It asks that we lay aside the human impossibility of loving like that, and to then offer ourselves as the “hollow flute” through which It can sing its song of divine healing.
Romantic love is the mere love of early attraction. It is of the spring and the blossom that fades and falls away. But the Love that survives the winters of life is That Which prevails and endures when there are no blossoms, when the summer has fled, and when all is harsh, cold, and relentlessly challenging it.
And if we have not learned to practice this Love by the time the “winter” arrives, then at the very least we experience only coldness and hardness, for Divine Love is the only thing that provides a barrier between us and the harshness.
As Maria Von Trapp sang, “Love isn’t love till you give it away.” We can only reap what we have sown. If you are therefore experiencing no love, then there is a good chance you have not been giving it away. You have instead mistakenly been self-absorbed and self-centered, for when selfless Love is sown, it never fails. Therefore sow endlessly and consistently, in and out of season.
God IS Love! … “Let us love one another for Love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God AND knows God. The one who does not love does not know God for God is Love… If we love one another, God abides in us, and His Love is perfected in us… as He is, so also are we in this world.” (See 1 John 4 and 1 Corinthians 13).
To know God is not a mere head knowledge of Him; it means to be of one mind with Him – growing in His image, likeness, and purpose. This is why Love must be the only focus of the “horizontal” spiritual practice (love of other), especially in our domestic settings. When both partners are consistently practicing “it is not about me, but about thee” attitude, then the result is the creation of a heaven in the midst of a hell. But when we center on self and on judging the other, it only makes a hell out of the most idyllic heaven. Life and death are indeed in the power of the tongue and our speech and attitude toward one another! Sadly over 50% of participants in marriage have decided to create hell instead of heaven.
The question is, what will you choose from this day forward? What will you teach your little ones as they look on? Will they learn merely struggling and striving against one another, blaming, excuse making, and fault finding? Will you teach them by your example how to make heaven or hell? Will they come to know through experience that “God is Love”, or will you by criticism, competing, self will, and self centeredness prevent the little ones from entering the kingdom of heaven (within and among you)? They have to know it exists by seeing it in their parents. This is a heavy responsibility, for God has entrusted you with their souls!
There are serious ramifications here. The family unit is the intended “primal church” where we either learn that God is Love… or not. This is why there is so much that is coming against the family now in society and the world systems, to break it down and destroy it – because the father of lies, our adversary, seeks to obliterate the truth that GOD IS LOVE. And the testing ground is the family. Heaven and earth are watching as the “great cloud of witnesses” (See Hebrews 12:1)!
So the more basic truth is not whether a man and a woman look good together, or are meant to be together, or if they make a cute couple, or how stylish or upscale they can be, or what their friends think – because at the end of the day the question will be asked, “How well did you learn to practice Love?”
It begins not with pointing the finger and fault finding, but by looking within and prayerfully doing some genuine soul searching: How well am I loving? Do I really want to perceive, hear, see, recognize, and acknowledge my spouse’s needs? Or do I always see the other person as someone who stands in the way of my ego-false self and its plans for happiness? Have I reckoned with the reality of why God put me in the here and now with this person – to leave behind the childish ways of self gratification?
Only the truth about Love and practicing it (broadcasting it, emanating it, living it) can set you free.
Couples ought to be carefully counseled before they marry, in the full light of the practical meanings and ramifications of 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4, for starters. John explains to us that Divine Love and Loving is the manifestation of two conditions: 1) not only being “born of God” but 2) “knowing” God – or oneness with Him, or at least the motivational direction and desire for divine union. Being born of God and oneness in Him through the Holy Spirit is prerequisite for manifesting the Love of God – the only Love that can endure the tempest through which the human race now sails because it is divinely sourced and enduring. Any lesser “love” means personal and domestic shipwreck.