Monday, February 14, 2011

Marriage Mondays ~ Love's mess factor

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Happy Valentines Day! It's the day we celebrate sweet things of love.  This weekend I spent time with my grandparents (married 73 yrs) and my parents (married 49 yrs). As we reminisced about the past, I was reminded that all relationships include some mess. Unless you're a hermit, you are in relationship with other people, and  you know this "mess factor" to be true. 

If you're in a marriage, you have experienced mess. As you read this you may be heavy hearted over an argument, years of disappointment, unfaithfulness, neglect, sin, insensitivity, or failure. As human beings, we all bring mess into our relationships. You can count on it. But true love doesn't run from mess.

Since today is Valentines Day, it seems fitting to reflect on how we know when love is true. And I think you'll understand why I'm not including a photo of this pivotal moment ... I knew Jeff loved me when he didn't run from my mess.

We were developing our friendship and spending time studying together when it happened. It hit with the suddenness of customers rushing in to buy the new i-phone or to be in the first 100 customers & win bagels for a year (I know this 2nd one from personal disappointment).  From where I sat with my books spread out, a wave came over me, forcing me out of my chair. I was going to throw up in front of my boyfriend! I knew I couldn't make it down the hall fast enough to avoid it, and only seconds stood between me and total disgusting humiliation. A sense of dread hit me, as I knew my relationship with Jeff was about to take an irreversible turn.

The moment came and passed with shocking speed. When I opened my eyes, I realized I had only made it as far as Jeff's .... desk. My stomach flu dripped all over the desk accessories, surface, and paperwork of my oh-so-manly co-ed.  For a moment, I weighed my options and thought about grabbing my Biology I text (too expensive to leave it!), running out, and transferring to another college. But before I could even think of requesting my transcript, Jeff came up beside me.  He helped me to the bathroom and left me there to hug the wonderfully cold bowl .... while he went back and did the unthinkable.... He cleaned up the mess. My mess. My gross, disgusting, threatening him mess. He made my mess his own.

I knew at that moment he really loved me, because love doesn't run from a mess. It may hold its breath or stick its head out the window for fresh air, but it doesn't run from a mess.

"Love suffers long ..." 1 Cor. 13:4 (Read all of 1 Cor. 13 here)

One thing about marriage is certain: mess is inevitable. Only those who choose to hold to their promise to love regardless of the circumstances will endure the messes and live to enjoy the other side. Love doesn't just "suffer," it suffers "long."  It hangs in there when the mess is on everything, when it get on us, when it's nasty. That proves it's love.

We usually don't talk about the messy stuff of love on Valentines Day, but there are 364 other days of the year to test love. What we do with our mess is part of love. What's the mess you're dealing with? I know we may not want to deal with it, but if we're going to love well, we have to take the mess that sometimes comes with marriage.

Love doesn't run from a mess.  It suffers long, and it's beautiful ... even after Valentine's Day ;)

7 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Mary said...

I also have a time when I knew my Jeff wasn't going anywhere. While we were dating my Mom had surgery. I was responsible for helping her during her recovery. There were times when I needed help and had to call on him in the middle of the night. I knew when she was better and he was still there beside me he was going to be with me through the mess and through the good times. Thank you for reminding us that Love suffers long.


Nicholeakao said...

there have been many messes in our relationship, but the messes have only made our love real. Happy hearts day to you!

Steph said...

this is EXACTLY what I needed to hear today :)

Mary Joy said...

I have been praying with that verse this weekend. We are going through a new time in our trails and challenges. Will has been diagnosed with a form of Epilepsy over the weekend after a run to the ER on Saturday night. God has touched my heart with a depth of love that I didn't lose him! It was so scary...I thought he was dying...but I am blessed to have the opportunity to love on him and serve him and shower him with the love that God has blessed us with through all of it. I wrote about it today...I am in awe that the more we live in the love that God loves us with...the more peace and joy we can find in serving our husbands during life's trials. I have the honor of taking care of this amazing man that I am so blessed to call my husband.

Your article spoke to my heart...he stood by me while we were courting through my mess. And now I get to be with him through this mess he is wading through...he is hurting and is in awe that all I want to do is draw closer to him...not move away!

Meechr said...

Julie, this has got to be one of your best posts ever-messes and all. Thank you for some tough love words. They are so true.

Melanie said...

Love this part ~

"It may hold its breath or stick its head out the window for fresh air, but it doesn't run from a mess."

Beth L. said...

Loved the "picturesque" way you described that. So true. May have to share this with a couple we're counseling that isn't sure whether or not to forge ahead in their relationship.