Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Gift For My Husband

The Jesus Storybook Bible that we read to our children describes God’s love as a never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever love. I will never forget the first time I heard our kids recite these words aloud on their own. My mother’s heart overflowed like a brimming cup spilling over. In Christianese we have a word for this kind of love…it’s called agape love. Agape love is completely sacrificial. One definition is…

"…Unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taker. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not."

My husband turns 30 years old today, and I can think of no greater gift that I could give to him than the gift of my never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever, unconditional love. He has it. It is his. And it took me a very long time to learn this kind of love in order to give it to him.


Agape love does not come naturally. In fact, it’s impossible to possess or to give without the power of Christ first flowing through you. It is only because my personal cup has been filled to overflowing by God himself that I can even begin to offer this kind of love to anyone else. “….does not change whether the love given is returned or not.”  Take a moment to reflect on these words alone. No really, do it.

It’s not possible to love someone this way unless you have first been loved this way.  Feeling this kind of love breaks you. Often before a person feels this kind of love they have been put through the wringer of life. They have been battered and bruised. And just because someone has received this love already, that does not mean that they are instantly ready to give it.

There will be trials and temptations. There will be tests of the spirit and will. A person will be picked up like a lump of clay and slapped on the potter’s wheel over and over and over again until they are molded and shaped into something that resembles a useful vessel. They will be put into the fiery furnace and beaten and banged, sparking and smoldering, until they bend. And when it is all over they consider it pure joy when they have faced trials of many kinds, for trials produce endurance and character.  What was once a useless lump has become something beautiful.

When Eric and I were first married, I admit that I was not capable of giving this kind of love.  Although Christ had already given it to me, I simply hadn’t experienced enough life yet to appreciate what a gift it was. Early love is…selfish love. Let’s be honest. :) It’s love that requires butterfly feelings in the stomach to sustain it. It’s love that argues a lot when it doesn’t get its way.  It’s love that keeps score and asks, “What’s in it for me?” If you’re not getting anything from it then it’s time to move on. If you aren’t feeling happy all of the time then the love must have expired. Selfish. Many of us never get past this and search our whole lives to find something more.


Then Eric and I had children and my love deepened for my husband as I watched him become a father. He’s a great dad. We grew closer in a way that only time allows. We learned each other’s strengths and shortcomings. Love isn’t truly put to the test until you see someone as they really are, not just the person they want you to see, but full-frontal flaws dangling on display in all of their imperfect glory. Love isn’t put to the test until your entire family spends a night sleeping near (or in!) the bathroom, taking turns rejecting anything that had been consumed that day and feeling fairly certain that each one of you is going to die a slow and painful death by vomit. Love isn’t tested until nurses come flying into your peaceful hospital room because something is wrong with the baby. It’s not tested until it holds a hand through a great loss. Love is not tested until you’ve sat awake all night with a crying child or survived 16 hour car ride with them!

But that love is still not agape love. When you are both pulling for the same team, love is easy. What happens when the person you love most really lets you down? What happens when the marital bliss bubble is burst and your whole life turns upside down? What happens when you thought what was…really wasn’t? What happens when you wake up one day and think…I’m not sure if I really even like this person anymore? At some point one or both people will fumble the ball and really screw up someway, somehow. What then? It is at this point that any marriage or relationship is at a crossroads.

There is only one thing that can get you through that and allow you to come out stronger on the other side. That’s agape love. That’s love that doesn’t change whether it’s returned or not. That’s saying, “This is WAY too hard for me to handle on my own, but I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” That is saying, “I don’t care if you treat me like dirt, I forgive you and I’m not giving up on you,” which is exactly what God says to each one of us, every single day.


The package I have to offer my husband this year doesn’t look very pretty on the outside I’m afraid.  It’s been banged around and punched a few times right in the guts. ;) It has come with a lot of blood, sweat, and many tears.  It is the result of nearly a decade’s worth of growth and learning.  It did not come easily, and I had to fail a lot of tests before I obtained the ability to pass it on. Because God loved me SO much and poured his love and mercy on me, I now have this most precious gift to give to the one person I love most on earth.

Eric, it has been an honor and a privilege to watch you and stand by your side for the past decade. I have watched you set goals and smash every one of them. I have seen great blessing and favor dropped right into your lap. You grabbed onto opportunities and ran.  God entrusted you with a little and then he gave you A LOT. Nothing in your life has come in small doses. You were a fantastic father the first time around, so God gave you FIVE children. (Thanks, God! We are DONE, but thanks!)  You worked super hard in minor roles at work, so God gave you major ones. You were a good steward with a little, so he blessed you with more than you needed. You were a really great husband, so he took your undeserving wife and grew her in such a way that you now have a devoted, loving woman who is your biggest fan and (trust me) the most diligent prayer warrior you will ever have by your side, offering you unconditional, agape love.  I cannot personally give you the world, but ALL good things come from God, and I have been praying his blessings on you every single day.

We used to sit and dream about what our lives would look like once we both reached our 30’s. Haha. I’m not sure if where we’re sitting today is exactly what we had in mind. But something tells me that, with a whole lot of grace, love, and daily forgiveness towards one another, you are about to have the best decade of your life so far. God set you up for amazing things while you were in your 20’s, and I truly hope that you now reap what you have sown.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. You're amazing! I am so excited to see what He has in store for you next!


 Happy Birthday, Eric. I agape love you. ;)


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