Blake and I have experienced our fair share of conflict and disagreements.
While I was still single I met with a counselor who helped me work through my fear of vulnerability. I didn’t like feeling uncomfortable so I would avoid people, situations and even self-awareness so I could also avoid feeling the emotions of pain, uncertainty or angst. The time spent with her was really helpful and crucial to my health and well-being. The skills I learned through counseling are still helpful to this day.
My natural instinct is to put up walls and push people away before they have a chance to hurt me. In times when I feel rejected or hurt by Blake I still have that instinct to build walls or run away. My flesh tells me to hurt him back because he hurt me. But that is not a path to love!
God loves me (and you) in my darkest moments. God pursues me (and you) as I run from Him. God invites me (and you) to have a relationship with Him even when I do not deserve it. God also challenges His children to love others with the same uncondintional, radical love He has given us.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12
It is a challenging calling! A call to surrender our expectations, to move toward our spouse even after they have hurt us and continue to offer forgiveness over and over.
But Jesus demonstrates this type of love to us everyday! When we choose to sleep in instead of spending time reading His word, when we put our trust in our limited abilities instead of His infite power, when He offers us abundant life, unconditional love unwavering peace and abiding joy but we stay content with the empty promises of the world, when we choose to be king of our own lives instead of worshipping the King of Kings- He still chooses to love us!
The love of Jesus is so countercultural. Society teaches us to love only if they love us in return. In our culture marriage is viewed as a negotiable contract rather than an unbreakable covenant. Culture teaches that you only have to love when the other person upholds their end of the deal.
But I can tell you that sitting in bitterness and holding onto hurt is no way to live. Do I want to be stubborn and wait for Blake to make the first step of reconciliation? Absolutely. But sometimes God asks me to take the first step. Its humbling, and sometimes humiliating.
“We love because he first loved us. ” 1 John 4:19
We each bring our expectations, dreams, desires and temperments into marriage. Are you willing to endure and persevere by each other’s side through the trials and triumphs of life? Are you willing to love and forgive even if you do not feel like it?
I’m still learning to embrace the uncomfortable emotions, swallow my pride and seek reconciliation. I’m so thankful for the season of singleness and the time I took to prepare for marriage. Being vulnerable is not easy for me but fighting for our marriage is worth it.
In the moments of conflict I challenge you to read The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant found in Matthew 18:21-35. May it remind you of the great debt of sin the Lord has forgiven you and to love and forgive others, even your spouse, in light of that.