“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” 1 Cor. 13:4-8a
When in a dating relationship, we’re quick to fight hard for the other person, for their happiness and well-being. We’re conscious about being kind, polite, patient, and we give of ourselves until exhaustion forces us to surrender to our pillow for a full nights rest. We think good thoughts, dream good thoughts, and speak good thoughts over the other person as we believe in them, hope in them, and endure with them. “There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” that will keep us from trying to make sure the other person is happy.
After the wedding, we often shift from a selfless servanthood attitude to a selfish mentality that’s more demanding. With all their imperfections, we longed for their time, their attention, and their love, before a commitment was made, only to allow our spouse’s imperfections to dictate our level of love after the wedding. What happens to grace after the honeymoon?
Back to real life!
The awesome and the ugly things of life were present before the week on the pink sandy beach, so why are we surprised when both the good and bad continue after? Real life with our jobs, family, friends, and hobbies was happening before the wedding too. So are those more beautiful than ever sunrises and sunsets that we enjoyed through the eyes of new love. They’re still happening, even when work resumes, when the babies come, and when the in-laws show up. So, why do we stop enjoying time with the one we pledged our heart to? When does the shift from selfless to selfish happen, and why? When is it that we decide not to be each other’s hero anymore? It’s as if we can no longer be best friends once we take on the title of husband, or wife.
It happens to all of us.
Step by step, one accusing thought leads to another, and so begins the dialog in our mind. Instead of taking the thoughts captive, we feed the attacking whispers until they grow from an accusation to a guilty verdict before the other person knows they’re even on trial.
AND YOU SMELL FUNNY!
The rose-colored glasses get traded, not for glasses that give us clearer vision, but for ones that distort with a darkened cloud of the “What about Me?” syndrome. The more we listen to the whispers, the more our eyes get clouded by lies. Little by little we begin to close our heart off to the one we said we would love for a lifetime–for better or for worse. Did we really mean, “For as long as you make me happy.”?
Could it be that we’re placing an unrealistic expectation on another person to ensure our own happiness? That’s a lot of pressure to demand from another imperfect human being. If we’re willing to be honest, we have to admit that we ourselves can’t even live up to some of the expectations that we demand from others.
I think unmet expectations contribute to a lot. We build a fantasy world in our mind about what life will and should be, and then we choose to live there instead of in reality. After all, we always get to be right in our personal fantasy land. Getting real with ourself will most-likely be the first unmet expectation that will disappoint us the most. It’s easier to look through a microscope at someone else than to look into a mirror. If only we could step into the messiness of reality by surrendering selfishness to embrace the adventure of living life together–with our own spouse. If only we could find the enormous amount of courage that it takes to lay down the facade of our internal world and allow ourselves to be exposed for who we really are, a work in progress with equal amounts of imperfections as the other person. Only then can we truly live in the land of “Happily Ever After” with the one we chose to partner our life with.
If they really knew me.
I also believe that many of us are fearful, not so much to love another person, as much as we fear being vulnerable to being loved. The fear of letting someone get so intimately close that they can peer into our deepest thoughts and emotions scare us. Many of us can’t accept ourself. That leaves us fearful that no one else could either if we truly let them see us. “I struggle with acknowledging my own shortcomings to myself, so how in the world could anyone else truly love me if they find out about…(fill in the blank)?” We wrestle! “If people really knew the thoughts I had to take captive, the things I get impatient over, and the things I’ve done in my past, they would never want me.” Fear causes us to lock up our heart. It causes us to demand the position of control. Fear is a deadly enemy of trust and is a dark smoke-screen to truth. Sadly, there are many marriages that exist only in the smoke. They never come to know the freedom of living in the light of truth and trust.
When fear screams at us to run and hide, to push others away or control the boundary lines of how close they can get, let’s remember that it is satan that is the accuser of the brethren. He not only accuses others but he is also the one who is reminding us of our own past mistakes and shining the spotlight on our own personal flaws. This is the very moment we need to draw strength from God to face our past. Remember, Jesus has already redeemed it. Once we can accept God’s love and forgiveness, we will be free to acknowledge the areas we are still needing to grow, and grow we will, like a flower fully exposed to the sun. If the accuser can’t get us to self-loath, then he will do his best to blind us to what others do for us by shining a spotlight on what they don’t do. But, if we can come out of hiding from ourself, then we won’t be so quick to push others away as they work through their own imperfections and fears. Grace can abound after the preacher pronounces two people “Husband and Wife”, and Ever After can be happy.
Happily Ever After starts today.
In the middle of the dishes, the house repairs, the screaming babies, and the hard to please bosses, we can choose to find the beauty of real life. Sure, life gets hard, but in the hardships let’s not fail to see the truth. We are a part of a great adventure. We are laying a legacy for future generations. Our actions and reactions today can cause a ripple effect that will last for many lifetimes to come. Today, I can choose to love all the wonders that are before me – today – or I can slip away into my internal world and live a lifetime of lies. If we live too long affected by the “What about me?” syndrome, we will die never knowing the elation of true intimacy–to know and be known. The legacy we pass on will be a cloud of fearful smoke.
The choice is mine. I can leave a legacy of love and commitment, or one of selfish ambition and deceit.
Married or single, let’s thank God for His love and for teaching us to surrender to Him. If we can open our heart to God and allow Him to love us intimately, we’re more likely to love deeply and have the ability to receive love when it’s offered.
You never know when your part of this adventure will end, so purpose to take some time during the next sunset to reminisce about the day’s crazy adventure. Give thanks for the one God allowed you to walk this journey with, as imperfect as you are.
God’s mercies are new every morning, so let ours be also.
Purpose to be each other’s happiness, then you can live Happily Ever After in both the awesome and the ugly things of life.