Tuesday, May 10, 2016
In our human frailty, in security is all too common. The world beats us down, telling us we’re not good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, fit enough. Endless commercials tell us we need this product or that product to improve ourselves physically or otherwise, that this thing or that thing will fulfill us, make us happy. Being in a relationship sometimes acts as a salve to this condition; being loved by another person validates who we are, reminds us we are worthy of love. Problems always occur though, since the other person is also finite and imperfect, just like we are. When we seek validation from other people, we are bound to be disappointed or hurt eventually.
Also, neediness is never attractive. The more we seek acceptance and from outside sources, even our spouse, the less we are likely to receive it. We must look first - and indeed, only - to God for our validation. We must look also to God for the love that is required to successfully do marriage. God’s love is “agape” love, eternal, unconditional, without strings. We as humans are incapable of this on our own, but with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
A wise friend of mine once used the analogy that we must be like a compartment in an ice cube tray. When we position ourselves to receive God’s love we get filled up, but since God’s love is endless, we soon overflow, and that love spills out from us, into those who are nearest to us. As Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, God’s love flows through as, an everlasting spring providing eternal life. When we are secure in our identity in God, confident in who God made us to be we are free to love others not transactionally (expecting love in return) but from a position of joy. We are free to receive love with true gratitude instead of nervous relief that our needs were met.
In her book Counsel from The Cross, Elyse Fitzpatrick writes:
“When spouses begin to grasp the depth of God’s love for them in Christ, the need for romance, respect, and attention will rapidly diminish. Rather than seeing themselves as needy sponges, trying to soak up every drop of earthly, human love, they will see themselves as wells supplied by a divine Spring, overflowing with living water that is meant to satisfy, cheer, and serve those around them.”
Accepting God’s love for us is akin to building our house on the rock (Matthew 7:25). It becomes the foundation of our identity, a place from which we are able to go forth and do the work God has intended for us. For married folks, that work begins at home: loving your spouse in a way that honors God and provides the picture of his love to the world.