Since I know I am among friends, I will tell you a little secret about me that you may or may not know—I am a hopeless romantic. There’s something about a beautiful love story, a song, a tribute, and, oh my goodness, a wedding that brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart.
That is why you can only imagine how EXCITED I am about my husband’s niece’s wedding that is coming up in a few weeks. Just seeing the excitement in this young couple’s eyes and hearing all about the sweet details of their upcoming celebration (a Christmas wedding, I might add) has me eagerly counting down the days with them.
Just this past weekend, the wedding festivities were launched with the most beautiful and God-glorifying bridal shower that I think I have ever attended. And on a side note, the amazingly delicious yet exquisite cake pops were out of this world. (Let’s just be honest here, the cake is right up there at the top of the list of my favorite things at showers and weddings.)
I was so humbled and honored to share a devotional at her bridal shower. While I certainly don’t consider myself an expert on love and marriage, I will say that my husband and I will soon celebrate 20 years of marriage together and probably the biggest thing I have learned along the way is that marriage is a journey—a journey on which I am STILL learning and growing on.
In preparing for the bridal shower, I so wanted to offer insight, encouragement, and principles from God’s Word that would not only encourage our niece but would also relate to the 20 or more volleyball girls that she coaches who would also be in attendance. So, as I prayed and prepared, here is what God led me to share:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind, love does not envy; love does not parade itself; is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never fails. I Corinthians 13:1-9
From this passage, we can see that love is more important than our words, our gifts, our good deeds, and all our actions. Therefore, if we don’t have love, nothing matters.
So if love is without a doubt the most important thing, what does it look like in our relationships? What choices can we make to love well? How can we implement love each day?
Let me be the first to say that I don’t have this completely figured out and I don’t always get it right, but here are 5 practical principles of loving well that I strive to apply in all of my relationships:
- Don’t let EXPECTATIONS crowd out the space needed to allow each other to grow and to develop into who God wants you both to be. We all go into relationships especially marriage with expectations. I remember doing so as a new bride, but if we are not careful we can become obsessed with who WE think they should be rather than allowing God to mold and shape them into who HE wants them to be. Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” It’s always better when we can step back and allow God to do His work rather than us trying to always control and change those around us.
- Be a GRACE-GIVER. Marriage can be summed up as two imperfect people coming together as one. It’s important to remember that no one is perfect. We are all flawed and just as God has forgiven us we need to do the same with each other…especially to those we love. Ephesians 4:32 “Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
- Choose to RESPOND rather than to REACT. When we react, we just say whatever comes to mind, we spew, we let the chips fall where they may. Responding, however, is when we take the time to think before we speak. The Bible says in James 1:19,20, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Three questions that really help me put things into perspective when I will implement them are: Is this really the end of the world? Will it matter a year from now? Can I let it go? Chances are we can usually let it go or at least step back and think so we can handle it in a more loving and grace-giving way. But perhaps the greatest thing that helps me choose to respond rather than to react is remembering that WORDS ARE FOREVER. We can always apologize, but we can never erase the memory of what we have said.
- Don’t hold on to FRUSTRATION and ANGER. Always choose to work it out. Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” I can remember times when I was first married when I would be laying there at night stewing while he was snoring. It wouldn’t take very long before my husband would get a tap on his shoulder because I absolutely couldn’t sleep until we worked it out. And even though it probably wasn’t his favorite thing to be woken up, not letting a day go by without working things out is so important. Life is too short to hold on to anger and bitterness. I can’t help but think of that young pastor in Indianapolis whose wife was killed in her home last week by an intruder. I’m sure when the husband left for the gym that morning he never dreamed it would be the last time he would see his wife alive to talk with, to hold, to share his life with… None of us do, but no one is promised tomorrow that is why when we have conflict we need to do everything in our power to make things right as soon as possible between us and those we love.
- Choose LOVE each day. It’s not a feeling, a movie, or a love song— it’s a COMMITMENT. An every day CHOICE to do exactly what I Corinthians 13 says: to bear all things, to believe all things, to hope all things and to never let love fail.
Back when we were first married, I wrote a song for my husband. A song that really ties in with choosing love. A song straight from my heart. And I think I will dust the 20 years of cobwebs off of it and leave it with you today.
Love’s Not a Song
When I said “I Do” I promised you that I would always be there. And since that day we’ve found a way to show how much we care. We’re at the start of a journey that’s going to last throughout our years. I’ll be with you in the laughter and I’ll be with you in the tears.
Love’s not a song but a choice that we make. Love’s not just a feeling but a vow that we take. It’s a promise to be true to the one God’s given you. Love’s not a song but a commitment all life long.
So we can’t give up when times get tough. We got to keep holding on. To win the fight, we have to do what’s right even when we don’t feel strong. Life’s not always easy. Problems come from day to day. We must choose right now to stand our ground. And let nothing stand in our way.
Love’s not a song but a choice that we make. Love’s not just a feeling but a vow that we take. It’s a promise to be true to the one God’s given you. Love’s not a song but a commitment all life long. It’s a promise to be true to the one God’s given you. Love’s not a song but a commitment all life long.