If I were to go down the of the attributes of 1 Corinthians 13 that I’ve been discussing over the summer, I would honestly say that I can’t do it. Love is patient, but I am not. Love is kind, but I am not. Love does not envy, but I do. Love does not boast, but I do. Love is not proud, but I am. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, but I am all of those things. Love holds no record of wrongs, but I have a list a mile long of every evil done to me and by me. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth, but I can’t say that I’ve always been on the winning side. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, but I can’t use the word always to describe my tendencies. Love never fails, but I fail almost every day.
Marriage is hard. Really hard. I write a post about being patient and kind, and then a minute later I yell at my husband. I write a post about keeping no record of wrongs, and later that week we fight about something that happened two years ago. When it comes to love, I feel like I’m doing it all wrong. I feel like I’ve failed.
You may look at me and Lenny and think that we have no problems. Good, that means we have you fooled. You shouldn’t be involved in our problems, because it’s our job to work through them, not yours. However, today I’m in one of those moods where the mask comes off and the gloves come on. I’m ready to fight against our insecurities and our weaknesses by sharing about the culmination of the “love chapter”: Love never fails.
Whenever I hear this, I know that no one is talking about me. I fail every single day. Marriage doesn’t change that. We think that once we get married, we’re perfect. As women, we’ve been told that we need to prepare ourselves for marriage so that we can be the right fit for our husbands, so that we could be his “one.” That’s so much pressure! I was sure the minute I met Lenny that I wasn’t going to be everything he wanted. We had our fair share of fights, most of them completely and totally ugly. But when our fights didn’t keep us away from each other, we knew that God was up to something special in our lives.
Getting married didn’t get rid of the ugly; it probably exposed our ugliness even more. It doesn’t matter how much you love someone; becoming one with another person is a mess. Some may call it a beautiful mess, but it’s still a mess. I’m not proud of everything I’ve done and said during those fights. But God was with us on our wedding day, and he’s been with us every day after that first moment of our lives together.
When we fail, God doesn’t. Even when we’re not exemplary “1 Corinthians 13” followers, God is love. I am fully convinced that our marriage would be a bigger mess if we didn’t have Jesus at the center. When I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall, when I don’t see a way around this mountain, when I have had enough with myself and with my husband, when I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore because I just want to win the argument against my husband. . . I look up. I talk to the God who can move mountains, who can make a way when there is no way. I can’t do it, but God can. I fall short, but God is limitless. I fail, but God’s love never fails.
I show love to Lenny when he’s nice to me, but I withhold love from him when he upsets me. That’s not love. Love is choosing to stand beside your spouse, being completely vulnerable with each other, loving like you’ve never been hurt before. . .even if your spouse has hurt you or will hurt you again.
That’s the way God loves, and loving God is the only way we’ll ever be able to give and receive that love to our spouses.
So, despite our fights, despite the mess, I believe that our marriage will not only survive, but thrive. The God that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13 is the glue that is holding our marriage together. When our finite human love falls short, God’s love for us as individuals and as a couple keeps us grounded.
Where do you turn when you fail?