"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

24 May 2005

"Let marriage be held in honor"

Many of our students/former students are getting married this summer. This is a brief meditation I wrote for a wedding card for one of them. It's far from complete, but my goal with our young folk is to hold before them the reality of commitment. The butterflies and fireworks are great fun, but you won't live there much, as any married folk can attest. So it is important to be alerted to love as action instead of love as feeling.

Love is commitment shown through sacrificial actions which benefit the beloved, not emotion based on how the other meets my needs and fulfills my desires.

As you enter this new state of life, it may seem that the butterflies and fireworks will last forever and carry you through whatever may come. Even though you know that this is not actually the case, the reality of day-to-day life is yet to come, that reality in which you will learn what love really is.

One day, for whatever reason, you will find yourself thinking, who is this person? Why did I marry him or her? And in that moment, you are given a choice – to act on feelings or to act on faith.

Love has nothing to do, ultimately, with feelings. Feelings, rather, grow out of love, which is a choice we make, embodied in our actions.

When he has hurt you by words or deeds, will you make his favorite supper (that dish you hate!) and smile as you serve it? When she has failed to understand your needs, will you wash the dishes and do the laundry just because she is tired and anxious? These will be the kinds of actions that ground your love in reality and bring it to the depth God intends for it to reach.

May the Lord bless you as you learn to walk in His ways, and may your marriage be a blessing to all around you, drawing others to the One who makes it sweet and strong.

Love . . .
is patient and kind;
does not envy or boast;
is not arrogant or rude;
does not insist on its own way;
is not irritable or resentful;
does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends. - John 15:13

We love because he first loved us. - I John 4:19

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. - Ephesians 5:1-2

Many waters cannot quench love. - Song of Songs 8:7


amelia ruth said...

Oh such a good meditation, such . . . um . . . convicting words that expose some attitudes of my heart for what they are. "Doesn't he understand? How can he expect me to . . .? Can't he realize that I'm in a bad mood and he shouldn't talk to me?" My love for him is based on how good a person he can be, or how much he can impress my friends (which he does quite regularly), or how well he can understand me. How do I begin to gain the attitude of submissive and humble service? How do I love him not because he can fix the car but instead because I have committed (or will commit) to loving him? How can I get rid of this need to show him that he's hurt me?

I am reading Madame Bovary right now, which is really exposing some of my idealistic attitudes about marriage in a rather frightening way. I am such a romantic, and have so many ideals about marriage, and when those ideals are shattered I can't just commit adultery and commit suicide! (I told him that on the phone last night, and he sounded rather worried that I might actually do it. Looks like I have some work to do. . .)

Thanks for the wisdom; I may just have to print out this page and hang it on my wall. Do send me a copy of the finished if you get the chance!

alaiyo said...

Hi, Amy -- Understanding the principles is the first step towards living them, so you are well on your way. And we never live them "perfectly," whatever that means! But we grow and learn and when our spouse is committed to growing and learning, too, then it becomes a joint adventure. Always remember -- it's an adventure, not an onerous duty. You will be a better person, more like Christ and more like the woman God created you to be, as you grow in this as in all areas of life. And that is exciting to contemplate!

I'll certainly get more to you if/when I get to it. One of my goals this week is to decide which writing projects will get the most time this summer . . .