My wife Megan and I got married on August 28, 2010. We recently celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary—something I was excited about and grateful for celebrating. Being married to Megan has been a good and beautiful thing, but it hasn’t always been easy. And Megan will undoubtedly tell you that for all its joys and wonders, it hasn’t always been superb. Sometimes she wonders, “Why on earth did I marry this man?”
I dated a lot before I met and married Megan. Some of those relationships were short-lived. Others lasted much longer. But all of them ended. At some point or another, one (or both) of us decided, “Enough is enough!” Perhaps that last fight was too bitter. Or maybe so-and-so’s pet peeve was just to…peevish. No matter the cause, one (or both) of us reached for the metaphorical “eject” button, gave it a good, hard slap, and swoosh!—the relationship ended.
I used to think that getting married meant finding that special someone you never wanted to hit the “eject” button on. I’ve since learned better. It wasn’t long in my relationship with Megan that I reached that same tipping point I came with everyone else. “Enough is enough!”
For some, the first year of marriage feels like one extended Marvin Gaye song played out in real life. For Megan and me, our first year of marriage felt like a cage fight in the Octagon. We were tired. We were wounded. We both wanted out. I reached for the eject button. I slapped it. But instead of swoosh! It went thwack! I tried hitting it again. Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!
What was wrong? Why wasn’t the eject button working? I wasn’t going anywhere, and Megan wasn’t going anywhere either. What happened? Or, more to the point, what didn’t happen? The button wasn’t broken, and we still wanted to push it. The critical difference was the button-pushers, Megan and me, were married. On August 28, 2010, Megan and I made promises to each other. Vows to love each other and not forsake each other, as long as we both shall live. If nothing else was different about us, this much was new. This promise was something we had not made before. And when we made those no-matter-what wedding vows, we virtually encased that well-worn eject button in the glass.
Reaching for the eject button but hitting the glass, having to stay put and work things out rather than run away—it was at that moment that I realized I was finally ready to learn what love is and what love requires. Because you see: love is patient, and love is kind. It doesn’t quit. Love promises to be there in plenty and in want, in joy as well as in sorrow, in sickness and in health. It is, as the King James Version puts it, “long-suffering.”
But love is not just patient or long-suffering. It is also kind. Patience without kindness hovers in the zone of polite restraint and annoyed tolerance. But patience with kindness is grace. It “suffereth long,” but it shows compassion to the one causing the suffering, like my dog licking our daughter after she’s pulled on his ears one too many times. You expect a growl but what you get is a kiss.
God’s love is like this. He is Yahweh, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Exod. 34:6
). He is the God who calls us His bride and promises never to leave or forsake us. We see His gracious love on display throughout the entirety of the Scriptures, but perhaps the most poignant picture of it is found in John 21
. Peter—the disciple who promised never to leave or forsake Jesus—ends up denying him three times. In John 21
, Jesus pursues Peter, cooks his breakfast, and asks, “Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?” Even though Peter hit the eject button on Jesus, Jesus doesn’t hit the eject button on him. And guess what: Jesus doesn’t hit the eject button on you or me either. Knowing that Jesus loves you with the same patient-and-kind love he ultimately showed Peter on the beach that day is ultimately what will empower you to love the way Jesus loves—patiently, kindly, graciously. Scripture References: