|( Ch.6 of Amber O’Brien’s Love. Always. Wins.)
~~Sometimes love turns the tide~~
I recently attended a tea party fit for a princess. My generous friend shared her gift of hospitality with five of us and considered every detail. She greeted us with warm enthusiastic hugs individually as each one arrived at her door. Real china and crystal candelabras set the lavish table, and soon, the scones, quiche, and chocolate-covered strawberries followed. As the tea steeped, she asked clever questions of each guest so as to connect us all in a positive manner and to help the conversation to flow.
But then… the sweet picture-perfect scene turned sour.
The conversation spiraled into negative sharing about our husbands. Light- hearted jokes snowballed into complaints and ungratefulness. Regrettably, I laughed along and joined the banter.
But then… the gracious and wise hostess offered the suggestion that turned back the tide of our elegant tea party. “Why don’t we go around the table and say something good about our husbands?” she encouraged us. “Okay? I’ll start…” she began.
My friend shared a cherished routine that her and her husband enjoy when he returns home from a business trip. Soon after he’s home again, they dress up (her husband puts on a dinner jacket), and they dance in the kitchen to celebrate!
Now the energy flowed as each woman shared a positive point about her husband. One couple, we learned, text each other the words of their favorite songs during the day as a code for romantic messages. A chorus of women giggled, “That’s so beautiful! We love that idea!”
After taking a sip of the now simmered tea, another friend thought of how her husband always complimented her in public, and how she wanted to be more like him in this way.
The previous drip-dripping of negativity that wears away at relationships, turned into a rain of refreshment. Our time together resulted in new ideas and in a renewed appreciation of our loved ones.
In the book of Proverbs, the impact of a wife’s nagging and negative words is compared to an irritating leak…drip, drip, drip.
“A nagging wife is like water going drip-drip-drip on a rainy day.” Proverbs 27:15
In addition, the book of Judges tells the story of strong Samson and the constant imploring words of Delilah. She ‘nags him to death’ and he eventually reveals the actual secret of his hidden strength. This results not only in Samson’s eyes being dug out, but also in him being chained in bondage until the end of his life.
Words can tear down and words can build up. Smearing the dirt on our husbands is like rolling in the mud for everybody to see because we are one unit as husband and wife.
I know the excuses we tend to give because I’ve used them myself. “I’m just venting,” or, “My friends are my therapists.” But a therapist would not personally know your husband and would not be passing any information along to others. In truth, your friends probably will. At the very least, their opinion of your spouse will decrease.
So guard your mouth and speak only life-giving, delicious tidbits about your spouse. Love protects relationships and looks for the best in others.
What should you do the next time you are tempted to focus on a negative quality of your spouse?
Take out a pen and paper, and write down ten positive statements about them instead. The next time a situation arises, read the list out loud.
Be ready for the next time when a friend begins to share some of her complaints. Perhaps interject something like: “I know that Joe isn’t perfect, but what is something that he does really well?” A true friend will support your marriage and help pull you out of the pit of self-pity.
So… lay out the good china dishes, my friend, and fill them with the choicest of words.
~~Love never grows old~~
As I was walking down the beach today, I overheard a white-haired lady chatting with her friends. “Do you know what my number number one bucket list item is?” she paused, and then exclaimed, “To fall in Love!” and added, “Again!”
Was she a widow? Was she divorced? All I knew was that she placed falling in love, AGAIN, as her top priority.
While I continued to walk along the shore, I remembered a simple poem that I had written many years ago about God’s desire for us to each fall in love with our spouses, again and again. God can ‘make all things new.’ We can’t control our spouse or change him, but we can ask God to help us to be the best wife and the best friend to our husband as possible.
How to Fall in Love… Again
Oh give my husband a brand new wife,
One that will partner lovingly.
Give him the helpmate that he so needs,
And may that ‘new wife’ always be me.
Oh give my husband a hot lover,
One that will surprise lovingly.
Give her energy and fresh ideas,
And may that ‘lover’ always be me.
Oh give my husband a new best friend,
One that will listen lovingly.
Give her Your wisdom to find the good,
And may that ‘best friend’ always be me.
As newlyweds, Dave and I searched for our first Christmas tree. I remember shivering in the cold, and being perfectly willing to take home any one of the many trees that we spotted along the way.
But Dave kept searching for, “the perfect tree,” which we all know is not a thing. (Neither is there a perfect wife).
This poem was my tongue-in-cheek way to find the good in having a husband who takes soooo long to pick out certain items.
I hope, sweet sister, that you will look for the positive qualities in those around you. When I get frustrated or angry, for instance, sometimes I make a list of the top ten great qualities about my husband. Focusing on the good always changes my perspective. Perhaps the best gift you could give you and your spouse today is to start making such a list right now.
“Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
—think about such things.”
Soon after the “I do’s,” and sometimes even during the honeymoon, we realize that our spouse might not be as perfect as we once imagined. On the other hand, despair might drag us down when we learn that we have disappointed our dear one, and may have grown less-than-shiny in their eyes, as well.
We are left with a decision to either run away, or to stay, and look up to the only One who will love us completely, and meet our deepest needs.
Oh my sister, we so long for beauty and to be beautiful, don’t we? The answer is one and the same. For wrapped up in human skin, our heavenly father sent a gift of true beauty and pure perfection. As we seek to spend time with Him, more rays of His light, beauty, and love will reflect out to others. We will mirror back His healing love just as the lightless moon reflects the powerful brilliance of the sun.
Oh, what comfort. Despite our many craters of flaws and mistakes, God’s love is more. God’s love, poured out for us on the cross, smooths over and makes us flawless. Like a waxing moon in a velvet sky, your soul is growing more radiant as you continue to choose to turn toward the Son.
A Mid-Life Epiphany
Husbands please be patient,
I know we now both agree,
Your wife is far from perfect,
Just like your Christmas tree.
Our needles are brown and shedding,
Our bottoms have grown too wide,
Once firm branches are now drooping,
Too tattered for trimmings to hide.
Don’t look too close is now our plea,
Your search might be mistaken,
And please don’t look around fretting,
“All her youth has now been taken.”
Long ago Magi searched the skies,
Longing for Israel’s winning King,
Wise men still seek to find this Son,
A perfection worth worshiping.
So husbands look up past the tree,
Echo out epic epiphany,
“As the moon mirrors the sun’s light,
You reflect God’s love beautifully. ”
~~Sometimes love doesn’t take the easy way~~
Grimacing in pain, he gripped his cane while he teetered stiffly to our table, like an accident victim in a full body cast who was just learning to walk. However, once he finally arrived, he didn’t sit down because for John, standing was only slightly less painful than sitting.
So John stood by our round table at the restaurant, while his wife, my husband, and I, enjoyed our spicy Mexican tacos in iron-wrought chairs. He did not stand in order to see the winding river below our patio, but to find relief from his chronic back pain. This awful pain had worsened over the past two decades that John and his wife, Bonnie, had continually sought medical care and prayed for God’s intervention.
My heart hurt as I watched his handsome face (much too young for a cane) wince in pain at every movement. I could only imagine the long-suffering heart of his wife who has lovingly cared for him each and every day, through surgeries and ‘recoveries’ due to his long term back issues.
Bonnie patiently ‘waits’ on God as she also lovingly ‘waits’ on her husband. For months she brought food to his upstairs bed as it was too painful for him to move downstairs. She chose commitment over fleeing, as most days she is also housebound.
However, although detained in her own home, her example of sacrifice and faithfulness reaches to her children and others, like the brilliant light that the moon reflects for so many during long, dark nights. The moon’s beautiful glowing is but a reflection of the awesome sun, which is powerful, radiant, and the center of our universe. Bonnie and John have made their devotion to Jesus, the Light of the World, the center of their family’s universe.
She spoke these words to us across the table, as gently as her life demonstrates them:
“Love is not a feeling… Love is a commitment.”
She faithfully holds on to her marriage vows of, “for Better or for Worse,” with one hand while her other hand clutches God’s promises to be faithful to her and her family.
Her greatest concern is for her children’s character. They observe real life lessons day-in and day-out as both of their parents remain steadfast in their hope and trust in God, despite the failed procedures and chronic pain.
She has a long term perspective. Bonnie refers to this time on earth as “a blip” compared to eternity.
Her commitment is to God and to her husband. Her desire is for her children to marry someday and to be spouses who exhibit true persevering love in every circumstance.
She. Is. More. Beautiful. —than any runway model. Bonnie models
Unselfish. Enduring. Committed. Love.
* * *
What should you do, sweet friend, when the feelings fade? When life disappoints?
When you want to flee?
To give up?
Look to God’s love wrapped in raw flesh on the cross. Did Jesus feel like carrying his cross? Did He feel like staying on the cross? Remember how in the garden He begged that the bitter cup be taken away?
Jesus, all human, and, at the same time, all God, could have come down at any moment. But instead, Jesus stayed on the cross —for us.
Love stayed. He stayed.
He stayed because He loves you, my dear one,
and He so desires to spend eternity with you.
Love became the way.
* * *
Discussion questions for those who want to delve deeper:
- Have you ever been to a tea party that turned sour? Why is it so easy to complain about those closest to us?
- Read and underline Proverbs 14:1. What does a wise woman do instead? Turn to Proverbs 18:21. What is the most powerful part of your body?
- Read Matthew 7:1-5. Ouch! Do you notice your own personal plank, or the sawdust of another? How can we accomplish this difficult task?
- In Mid-Life Epiphany, the author bemoans that she is changing as she grows older, and is no longer “perfect” in her husband’s eyes. What makes a person beautiful to you? To God?
- Can we expect to change our spouse? How can we become a better wife, or friend?
- How is Bonnie like, ‘the full moon on a velvet night’? Does our culture encourage this commitment? Do you feel like running away sometimes from your situation? (*To be sure, at times a trusted Christian friend or counselor might help to gain perspective when we share personal thoughts —which is very different from the story of the ‘husband bashing’ that might occur in a social setting).
- What would our world be like if Jesus did not ‘Stay’? Why did He ‘Stay’ for you?
* * *
Time for Dessert
Sit down and write 10 positive things about your spouse or family member.
Better yet, after you make your list, place it on their pillow tonight.
You both will sleep better.