By: Wendy Fitzgerald
It has been almost 23 years since I stood at the altar and said, “I do.” At eighteen, I was sure that the best route for my life included this man. And I was right. What I did not know was how hard it would be. I thought that “Love – the emotion” could get us through anything. I could not have been more wrong! If you have ever been married, you know it only takes a couple of months for the world of perfection to fall apart.
After four years, we were facing issues that make most couples forsake their vows! Love is supposed to be tough, but this was painful – for both of us! I was faced with the decision to stay or walk away, and according to Scripture, I felt I had the right to choose the latter. I’ll never forget the day that we sat together in an empty dugout of a baseball field in the small town where I grew up. He said that he was sorry for the hurts he had caused and asked me to stay. It was a choice that I knew I would live with for the rest of my life.
The choice was not easy. My emotions were all over the map. I needed him to hold me, but at the same time, I was repulsed by his touch. I could not trust my feelings from one second to the next, but I made the decision to stay. I chose to keep the promises we had made four years earlier, and through that decision LOVE became real. No longer was LOVE an emotion – it was a choice! If I were to accept his love, I had to make my love an action, regardless of my changing emotions! When I was six, my dad made me memorize the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, but I did not understand the words until that day! Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. Love is not proud or rude. Love is not self-seeking. Love keeps no record of wrong!
It took years to heal from that experience, but staying in my marriage was a stronger statement than “I do,” because, “I DID!” Years later my mom snuggled up to me at a family gathering and whispered in my ear as she watched my husband from across the room. “Honey,” she said, “what a gem he is! Imagine what life would have been like if you had chosen to walk away.”
Eighteen years have passed since that day on the ball field, and if I could go back, I would not change a thing! Because of that pain, we’ve worked harder, we’ve built stronger and we’ve grown much! In retrospect, I know that I hurt him as much as he hurt me. I’ve learned that hurt people hurt others. In the midst of painful emotions, it is easy to fight the person who is hurting you, but I encourage you to fight the hurt instead. Look past the person, and see what you may be doing to your spouse that is causing them pain. If you attack your spouse, chances are that they will wage a counterattack. However, if you turn your attack against your own actions, (This is not easy, but it works.) you take away the ability for your spouse to fight, and therefore healing can begin. Love is not self-seeking. Love keeps no record of wrong.
Recently I invited my seventeen-year-old son for coffee, and we talked about the hardships of real love. There are truths about life that we must allow our children to see in our lives. Love is hard, and they won’t escape the hardships. Our children are learning how to love by watching our actions. Society paints a much different picture of love than the one designed by God. Regardless of what you have been through, no matter your choices, are you willing to address and teach God’s design for true love to your children?
Claim IT: We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:9 Lord, thank you for your love even though we don’t deserve it. Please give me the strength to show your love to my spouse and teach Your love to my children.
ACTION: Consider taking your teen for a cup of coffee or ice cream and share the traits of true love with them by reading and discussing 1 Corinthians 13. The Message Version of this passage makes conversation very relevant.