I was a 22 year old mess when I married my husband. Poor guy hardly knew what he was getting himself into! I had yet to overcome the oppression of fear, insecurity, and anger that seized me in my teen years. 1 John 4:8 says, “He who does not love does not know God.” This was me. I was a Christian, but I didn’t understand God because I didn’t understand His love and I certainly didn’t know how to share it with others.
Twelve years have gone by now. God has taught me so many things about Himself through my marriage. And thankfully, God has used my husband as a key player in His ultimate plan to heal me by His love.
A couple years ago, I sat down to write a note to my husband for our tenth anniversary. I couldn’t help but think about the transforming power of God’s love through him and the tremendous change wrought in my soul as a result.
To My Dearest Husband,
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear”
[This is 1 John 4:18. Not sure why, back then, I used the version with archaic language……]
For so long, even since childhood, fear has had a strong grip on my life. I would even say at times it has paralyzed me. I so desperately longed for close relationships yet they seemed so elusive because I felt so inept and fearful. This cycle only proved to bring me down and to prevent me from the growth I needed. But God in His kindness has not stopped working in my life. As I grew to better understand His love for me, fear has slowly slipped away. And as God has shown me, through you, that another person can love me just the way I am, even more fear is relieved and is replaced with a sure confidence in who I truly am and what God really thinks of me because of His Son.
Your role in this growth is monumental. Without your unconditional love, I know I would still be the same fearful, angry, hurting teenager that I am so glad to be rid of. Thank you for showing me that I too can love this way. I think this will be my next great challenge – now that I am finally learning to be loved, I can truly begin to love others unconditionally. I am convinced that the most powerful catalyst for change in someone’s life is God’s love, especially when it is manifested through those who love Him.
Please know that I mean this all with the greatest sincerity and that I truly desire to show you even more how much I love you in the 10 years to come!
I love you so much and wouldn’t trade our life together and our family for the world!
God used my marriage to save me. It saved me from a loveless life. It took one person and his unrelenting love and commitment to me to break through the pernicious walls of fear and lies I had constructed to ‘protect’ myself. My husband’s willingness to be a conduit of God’s love served to draw me in, closer to God’s love.
But he’s not the only one who has shown me God’s love: parents, siblings, extended family, friends – the list is massive – have all contributed too. That’s the beauty of the Body of Christ! We are truest to our identity when we Love. Period.
That’s what it takes for any of us to be healed by Love. It doesn’t have to be marriage. Maybe it’s a brother, a sister, a friend. Whoever it is, God’s love at work in His people changes lives. It changed mine. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Can I offer some encouragement to those of you feeling fearful, insecure, and angry? To those feeling a bit – or a whole lot – of a mess? Tune your minds to the Love around you. It is there. God is living and active in His people. Maybe, like me, it’s been so easy to get wrapped up in your own feelings that you miss the love your spouse, family member, or friend is showing you. They aren’t perfect, but neither are you. Intentionally see the love – and then accept it. You have a responsibility to recognize and reckon with the truth. If you chose to shirk this responsibility, then you are ultimately the one to blame. I can boldly say these things because I have been there. We are not victims to our emotions or to lies, we are culpable for what we choose to believe. Don’t be like the nation of Israel in Malachi 1:2: “‘I have loved you,’ says the LORD. Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’” They dared to say this back to God after his millennia of favor toward them. Have regard for the lavish Love of your Heavenly Father!
And to those of you spouses, friends and family members doing your best to share God’s love with someone like me: Don’t give up. Don’t grow weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9). Keep loving with God’s love. Your love might be returned with injury, but please, please, please, don’t stop! God’s love streaming through you can save a life! And remember, that sometimes love is tough. It doesn’t put up with lies and self-pity and it doesn’t bow to the whim of the loveless person’s emotions. God-love stands firm on God’s truth. My husband does a wonderful job of stopping me in my tracks when I go down the path of lies. He simply won’t let me continue. I can recall many occasions where he left the room when I was spewing caustic insults and lies his way. You don’t have to stand there and take it. But continue to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Stay rooted in your walk with the Lord so you will abide in the resource of His love to pour out to others.
I was sinking deep in sin
Far from the peaceful shore
Very deeply stained within
Sinking to rise no more.
But the master of the sea
Heard my despairing cry
And from the waters lifted me
Now safe am I.
Love lifted me
Love lifted me
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!!!
~ James Rowe