by Johnnesha Parker
Once upon a time, I thought I was so in love. I remember how much I wanted to spend every minute of my day gazing into his eyes, cuddling, having long conversations and sharing secrets and desires. He felt like the “real thing” at the time. I just knew our love would last forever…and I did my best to try and make it last.
They say hindsight is 20/20, and looking back I can clearly see that what I felt was love wasn't love at all. Yes, I had a strong yearning and desire for him that was overwhelming at times, but it wasn't love…it was more like lust. Everything this man and I shared satisfied my fleshly craving for attention and affection, but it did nothing for my spirit. God was not a part of our relationship at all! Our “love” was all about satisfying our needs and indulging our own wants and desires. In fact, whenever we tried to pray together, attend church services, or even discuss scriptures, we would encounter some sort of conviction about the lifestyle we were living together. Lusts of the flesh are sins that lead to a separation from God, and this relationship was doing just that. Eventually, after much heartache and disappointment, we separated and moved on.
Some years later, I married the man God sent for me. My husband challenges me to live out the instructions found in 1 Corinthians 13 about real “love.”
- Love is patient and kind. We may go through rough patches now and then, but I suffer through them with a smile in my heart and on my face because I have faith in God’s plan for my marriage. I know His plan does not include my giving up on my covenant with my husband because it’s too hard.
- Love does not envy or boast. Everyone’s marriage is different. My married friends may seem to have a better, more romantic relationship than I do, but they could also be struggling with the same issues all couples face. By the same token, I can’t look at a marriage that’s in trouble and say to myself, “Well at least we’re not doing THAT bad!” It doesn’t do any good to focus on someone else’s blessings or failings. I thank God for the privilege of being a wife and ask His strength and grace each day to be the Proverbs 31 woman of my husband’s dreams.
- Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. This is a biggie! Before I was married, if I didn’t get what I wanted from a relationship I would be irritable about it at first, then in time irritation morphed into resentment. I blamed my partner for not making me happy and fulfilling my needs and wants. That was pure selfishness; love is not about getting, it’s about giving.
- Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Here is the heart of love; this is how God loves us. Some things that happen in a marriage, like infidelity for example, may seem unbearable. It may be hard to believe that things will ever get better, and it can be easy to lose hope in your partner. However, God bears with us through all of our faults and disappointments. He believes and hopes that we will see how much He truly loves us and return to Him when lust causes us to fall away. God endures all things because He loves us and wants us to belong to Him in spirit, soul, and body. When you love someone, God can give you that same strength to endure and hold on.
- Love never ends. I’m so thankful that God’s love will always be there waiting for me. It gives me a feeling of security that nothing else can give. With God, it doesn’t matter if I’m fat or skinny, rich or poor, have a GED or PhD; His love is still the same. Even if I sin and separate from God, He is always there waiting for me to reconcile and come back to Him. I want to be able to love my husband the same way; in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, until death separates us.
I’ve learned that love isn’t always easy and it’s almost nothing like what we see in movies. Love is not about diamond rings, lavish trips, and shopping sprees. It’s not about having someone to fulfill your every wish and desire. It’s not even about sex on the beach or passionate kisses in the rain while your favorite love song plays in the background. Love is giving, hoping, sacrificing, enduring, growing closer to your partner and closer to God.
Are you in love or in lust?