When my feelings were hurt last week, the last thing I wanted to do was reach out in some stellar act of kindness and affection. Instead, I wanted Jeff to read my mind, understand my feelings, and come to me. Starting with the "read my mind" part, there are problems with that scenario that make it rather unfair. In short, I didn't want to "go first" to smooth over the rough spot I felt. But a lot of the miracle of two becoming one is about being willing to "go first," even when it smarts.
Does it ever feel impossible to you to love your partner with a divine quality of love? He calls us to imitate His godly kind of love. The longer I'm married the more I'm amazed that God calls us to do it, but the more dependent I am on His strength to strive for that kind of love.
Ephesians 5:1 "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children."
1 John 4:10-12 "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (emphasis mine)
He DOES call us to love divinely, and that means we GO FIRST. God modeled initiative when He loved us, described in 1 John 4:19: "We love because He first loved us."
His willingness to GO FIRST in the active expression of love caused us to love back. I want that in my marriage!! How about you? God went to the greatest extent, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." I want to be willing to GO FIRST in the active expression of love, and I want to be loved back.
Before we understood or cared about His love for us, before we asked for forgiveness of our offense, before we spoke lovingly to Him, before we gave anything back to Him, before we spent any quality time with Him ... He loved us. He was willing to GO FIRST.
When we receive love's action first, it affirms the unconditional quality of the love, it shows we have been chosen, and it invites us to respond. As we respond the bond deepens and the understanding grows and intensifies. And I'm not just talking about gals like me being loved by the God who went first; I'm talking about gals like me who get their feelings hurt and don't want to "go first" in relationship with our guys. Going first requires humility, humility like Jesus showed. So how does it look in a romance where we are trying to forge two into one?
- taking initiative to share (your stuff, your space, your time, your self)
- being willing to change (I'll roll the toothpaste the way you like it, Honey ;) )
- praying for your spouse first (even if what you long for is to be prayed FOR)
- making the first move intimately (showing your spouse you desire and want them)
- giving up what is yours (I can move that meeting; let's go ahead and go out that night)
- affirming your partner with encouragement (thank you for taking care of those bills)
Our tendency is to wait and let the other person make the first move, so we don't "stick our neck out there" and get burned, so we don't get taken advantage of, so we don't get ignored .... watching out for what the world tells us might happen if we dare ... to GO FIRST. But God's quality of love means we set aside our pride, love the other more than ourselves, and be willing to GO FIRST.
Maybe we should edit the old vows and add: "I Julie take you, Jeff, to love, honor, and cherish, in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, for better or for worse, forsaking all others and setting aside my pride to be willing to GO FIRST in love as long as we both shall live.
And by the way, I did go first, and I'm so glad I did. It was worth it. Turns out I totally misunderstood what my unsuspecting hubby tried to say. Been there? What could God be asking you to GO FIRST with in your relationship, so He can shower blessings upon you? Move over closer in bed tonight? Greet your husband with a warm kiss he hasn't had in a while? Call him to tell him you're thinking of him? Make his favorite dinner, and tell him it's just for him? Pray for him today and tell him you did? Say you're sorry? Tell him you want to be a better wife? Ask him what he wants to do on his day off and be willing to do it? God knows how hard it is to lower Himself and reach out when the vibes are icy and there are no warm fuzzies. He went first with us, and I'm so glad He did.
Praying for you as you read Marriage Monday today. If you'd like to email me or leave a comment, I'd love to add your specific name to my prayers ... you go first. :)