When it's Hard to Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a
resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom
all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and
surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  
Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  
Love never fails.  
But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled;
where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child,
I thought like a child, I seasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part;
 then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  
But the greatest of these is love.      
1 Corinthians 13
The above is commonly know as the LOVE chapter in the bible.  You can find parts of it on greeting cards, quoted at weddings, and even hung on walls.  It is so beautiful.  As Christians, we are in awe and filled with thankful hearts knowing that is how Jesus loves us.  That is what He does... that is Who He is. This knowledge is AWESOME because it is His love that the Holy Spirit uses to draws us to Him. The same Holy Spirit who indwells every believer. SO why don't WE love as Jesus loves? Could it be because it is easier to accept this gift of love from Him than to think that WE are called to give this gift to others? Seriously...how many of us really love this way?  This sacrificial, unconditional love is NOT the kind of love we are used to seeing, let alone giving....especially in marriages today. 

 

Think about it.  Selfish love is glorified all around us! From Hollywood to our own backyards.  It is the norm everywhere you look.  You can spot it when you are with other couples. Constant belittling, sarcasm and disrespect, to name just a few. (Yes, I am guilty!!) What about in our own homes? When our spouse does something that goes against our grain, that irritates us?  Do we get back at them, do we stubbornly wait for them to be the first to say they are sorry?  In the big picture, the little fights we have, the strife we let hover underneath the surface, may not seem like a big deal but left unchecked these things can erode away the love God intended to be exchanged between husband and wife.  James 4:1 is TRUTH that is hard to swallow.  "What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but you don't get it.....".  Ouch!!   I am guilty, again! Our love, so many times, is like the world's love.....based upon our own happiness and selfish desires.  But as disciples of Jesus, is this how we are called to live? Are we not supposed to be a reflection of His glory for the world to see?

God's Word commands us to "love the Lord your God with ALL of you heart, with ALL of your soul, and with ALL of your mind.  This is the greatest commandment.  And the second is like it.  You should love your neighbor as yourself."  (Matthew 22:37-39) There you have it.  This is God's will for you and for me.  God WILL help us to live and to love like Him more and more each day as we crucify our sinful nature and desire MORE of Him to rule in our hearts. If your goal is to be a Godly wife, I believe a great prayer to pray is "Lord, help me to love YOU MORE!!!"  But keep reading. God's WORD then commands us to "love your neighbor as yourself".  SO, who IS my neighbor?  I don't have to look any farther than the person I wake up to every morning. I am commanded to love my husband as much as I love myself.  Well, most of us, whether we like to admit it or not, love ourselves a whole lot and it stops there. When we love the Lord as it states in the first verse, loving and respecting our husbands will be an overflow of the love we have for Christ. Wouldn't it turn the world upside down if all of us wives put this into practice?  It starts with me...with MY heart, with MY choices...towards MY god and then towards MY husband.

SO, we already know it is hard to love as Jesus loves. What about when you have been wounded?  When your spouse has betrayed you?  When your heart is broken from catching your husband  (again) looking at porn? These kind of issues take "hard" to a whole new level.

Let's just say it like it is.... betrayal and pain can bring out the worst in all of us. Should you be angry?  YES! Sin and unrighteousness should make everyone angry! Betrayal in ANY form is wrong. Period. I know there are times when "tough love" is what is necessary.   But even then, I believe it is the Lord's desire that we walk in love.  We do not have to become bitter, resentful, or revengeful.  The LOVE of CHRIST in us can trump all that ugliness if we allow Him to be in control.  It is all about how we handle our anger and our pain that makes all the difference.

Speaking of ugly, when I am hurt......when I am broken is when what is buried and hidden in my heart comes to the surface. Dear friends, God can't be fooled.   He knows what's in our hearts. He will use our trials, our hardships and even our brokenness to purify our hearts so that we are emptied of the ugliness(self) that is there.

So MANY times my reactions have looked more like hate than love.  I  have circled the same mountain with the same reactions too many times to count! My husband's addiction to porn revealed that I had my own heart issues that I needed to deal with. I became ugly and critical towards my "sinful" husband.  I had my hands full of stones to throw at him......as If I was without sin...NOT!!  My thoughts became wrapped around MY wants, MY desires, MY way!  Even though my husband was repentant, I could not let it go.  I gave him grace but not without ugliness and my own selfishness attached to it.  I am not kidding when I say it is only by God's amazing grace that our marriage has survived.  Some would say he deserved to be treated poorly but I am confident that is not what Christ would say.

As God's beloved daughters, we cannot justify our own sinful attitudes and behaviors because our husband's choices have wounded us.


Ever tried to change or control your husband?  What about "fix" your husband?  Me, too. So many times in the aftermath of our brokenness we try to do these very things.  It is amazing the lengths we will go to to try to have OUR way and to try to protect our hearts....from crying, to pouting, to threatening divorce and everything in between. Ladies, that kind of behavior does not in any way exemplify the love of Christ and will not bring about the results that we desire. The truth is, we cannot change, control or "fix" our husbands. That is God's job and one that only He can do.

SO what CAN we do when it seems so hard to love?

What I CAN do is quit making excuses for NOT being the Godly wife God has called ME to be.

 I can quit blaming  my husband for the ugliness in my own heart.  I can take responsibility for my OWN choices and attitudes.  I can control my responses.  I can control me. I am accountable to God for only MY choices and my husband is accountable to God for HIS choices.  I can be free to love my husband IN Christ, knowing that He has my back.  I can read 1 Corinthians 13 and take steps to put it in to practice knowing that I have the grace and strength of God to empower me.

These things are easier said than done, I know that all too well. BUT they CAN be done.  God's love letter to us is full of precious promises that we can stand upon.  These promises can replace our excuses.  Hebrews 13:20-21 says "And now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ, equip you with all you need for doing His will.  May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to Him".  Amen!  2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us "God is ABLE to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency, in ALL things, may have an abundance for every good work."  Did you catch that? GOD IS ABLE, His Grace will abound toward you and in abundance!! I don't know about you but I am thankful it is in abundance because there are times when I need truck loads of it...God's got me covered and He has you covered, as well!

As we are coming to the end of one year and the beginning of another, God is stirring  my heart like never before to LOVE my husband and others the way He loves me.  To be the wife He has called me to be not based on what my husband does or doesn't do, but based upon my relationship with Christ. To love deeply, even when it's difficult, even when my heart is broken. It is a choice we all get to make. I am sure I will fail at times, and when I do, my gracious Lord will pick me up again and gently continue stripping away the ugliness I hold in my heart.  I am so thankful that He is faithful to complete the work He has begun in me.

What about you?  What is God showing you that He wants to do in your heart this coming year?  If you don't know, ask Him.  I can assure you that He has MORE for you than what you have experienced so far. Dear sister, surrender your heart, your husband and your marriage to HIM.  Go ahead, love with the love of Christ that is in you! He will take care of your husband in His timing, in His way.  AND He will take care of YOU!  NO matter what your husband does or doesn't do....more porn or no porn, God desires to change YOU and transform your life into something so beautiful that when others see you.... they see a reflection of HIM.

....He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.
Romans 5:5

Above all, love each other deeply......
1 Peter 4:8

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.
1 Peter 3:8-9, 11

Written by: Mindy Adams




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