I am reading Gary Thomas' "Devotions for a Sacred Marriage". Some of the thoughts that he comes up with are just profound. I just had to share what I got out of today's reading.
"In the first flush of infatuation, love-like activity comes spontaneously. It gushes out of us. We say nice things, we buy presents, we write encouragements, we are eager and creative lovers, we do all the things that make someone feel special. Why? Because "enthusiastic emotion" moves us to do so. But if we stop loving when the feelings fade, we reveal that we are motivated by mere emotions more than by God's call on our lives, that we pay more attention to feelings than to Christ's glorious invitation to love as He loved.
If we dodge this character-producing practice by running to divorce court or by pouting and withdrawing into silent marriages, our hearts start to calcify spiritually. Our hearts shrink instead of enlarge, and we reinforce the selfishness that already screams for pride of place. But if we practice loving-even when we don't feel like it-our hearts bulge with God's goodness and generosity until love becomes the natural expression and response to God's work in our lives.
That's why infatuation doesn't really teach us to love. Only marriage can do that. Infatuation comes naturally-it is innate, no practice required. But a marriage is built on the bedrock of many considered decisions: Will I love, or will I hold a grudge? Will I serve, or will I be selfish? Will I notice this person, or will I retreat into my own world? Will I please my spouse, or will I draw pleasure from ignoring him (or her)? Marriage reveals and then purifies our motivations in a way that infatuation never can.
In fact, if our hearts are right and if we truly desire to become like Christ, we won't resent the challenges of marriage but will welcome them instead.
Henry Drummond gives us sound advice:
Do not quarrel...with your lot in life. Do not complain of its never-ceasing cares, its petty environment, the vexations you have to stand, the small and sordid souls you have to live and work with...That is the practice which God appoints you; and it is having its work in making you patient, and humble and generous, and unselfish, and kind and courteous. Do not grudge the hand that is molding the still too shapeless image within you. It is growing more beautiful though you see it not, and every touch of temptation may add to its perfection."
What a wonderful way to look at marriage. We are practicing real-life Christianity. We are putting our faith to the test every day. We are learning to love as Jesus loves us. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Am I "dying" to myself for my sinner (my husband). I have a long way to go...