Sunday, December 14, 2008

Marital Moments Issue 17 - Perfect Love

My mom was only 16 when she married my dad. I'm sure she had visions of a "happily ever after" floating through her mind as she said, "I do." She came from a broken home. A physically abusive home-with an alcoholic for a father. I believe marriage was a bit of an escape from her dark and lonely world. She placed a lot of hope and responsibility upon her new husband to fill all of the areas that had gone empty for so long. My father was a wonderful man. Although he was a "man's man," he also had a lot of tenderness to him. Yet he was human and not perfect. Who is?

Growing up I saw my mother's need for love - almost an insatiable need for acceptance, completion, and a fairy tale ending of her prince singing songs to her and about her. Oh, you can bet she tried not to need those things. Tried to ignore the longings of her heart. Tried not to be so "emotional."

I vowed in my heart early on that I would not marry. Would not make myself so vulnerable to another person to fill my needs. Although somewhat lonely; I managed to be rather independent and self sufficient. There was never a shortage of people to date when I was lonely. But the moment they became too committed; too serious about having a future with me - I broke it off. My dad teased me in high school for having a "new boyfriend" every three months or so.

God was teaching me a lot even back in those days. Showing me that no person could ever fill me. Never complete me in the way that we humans hope that they will. He allowed me foresight to see what kinds of long term relationships would develop with each person that I dated. I was searching for the answers and He was gradually showing me the truth:

God alone is the only one who can fill us, complete us, and love us unconditionally.

I thought in college that I had found it. That "perfect love" that would be the fairy tale ending for me. I let my guard down in ways I had hoped I never would. I was prepared to become this man's wife. We dated for several years. He asked my father for my hand in marriage. Then he felt the Lord asking him to give me up; to break up with me-and he did. To say I was crushed, devastated, words could do justice for the state of my heart or mind.

I believed it was a test at first. An Abraham offering up Isaac kind of thing. I literally did not date for almost a full year because I was certain that this man was going to return to me and tell me that God had finally released him to marry me-I wanted to be able to tell him that I had waited for him. He did not return. I was crushed all over again.

I was confused. I questioned everything about myself - was I not good enough, not attractive enough, not Spiritual enough. Did God feel that way about me too??? I struggled for the next couple of years; wrestled with God about the loss of my mom to cancer and the loss of this man that I had felt certain would be my husband.

I found myself trying to be everything else that everyone else was. I dated a lot of individuals that I knew were not right for me; but I reasoned, "maybe this is the best that I can do....maybe my hopes for a true "soul mate" were just some fairy tale wish." It wasn't until I fell asleep on the couch (after watching a movie at my current boyfriend's parents house) and woke up to him practicing his proposal to me that I knew I couldn't do this. I couldn't compromise my heart just so I could be "married."

This was the beginning of my "being real" before God. Not trying to be a "good Christian" and say all of the "right things" to Him; but to pour out my heart in ways that I had always felt (maybe had been taught) was inappropriate. I wrestled much like Jacob wrestled with the angel in the book of Genesis (Chapter 32 and also in Hosea chapter 12). I asked Him to show me who I really was. To show me what I was really worth. "Go ahead God, if I'm not worth much, just tell me already so I don't keep holding out hope that I am!" Here are some of the Scriptures that He gave me back then and even now speaks to my heart:

Isaiah 43:1 "...I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine." (NIV)

Isaiah 43:4 " are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you..."

Deuteronomy 14:2 "...the Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession."

Colossians 2:10 "And you have been given the fullness of Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Colossians 3:12 " God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved..."

Psalms 139:17 "How precious are your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them."

I have only shared small portions of the Scriptures; some of which are from the Old Testiment and are words spoken by God to the children of Israel. Because we are descendants of Abraham we too are included in those promises.

To read more Scriptures about who God says you are, click here.

No man or woman can "complete" us. They simply cannot meet all of our physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual needs. It is a spot reserved for the creator of our souls. Perfect love comes from Him. We need to release our spouses from that responsibility and turn to God to fill us. If we invite Him to - He will. When we rest in His perfect love we are able to give and receive human love in much more fulfilling ways. Do you have longings in your heart that have been unmet by your spouse? Turn to the Lord. Tell Him everything - the good and the bad. Ask Him to answer the questions of your heart; and then be prepared to be still and listen. He will answer. It may not be an immediate audible response; but He will speak to you heart.

I John 4:17-19 "In this way, love is made complete among us...there is no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear..."

Thank you for reading this entire post (for those of you who have!) I kept going through ready to "edit" things out to make it shorter; but I felt the Lord prompting me to keep all that is here within this post. I pray that your heart will be touched by His love for you!

Sweet Blessings and Peace to you today!



Busy Mom said...

Thanks for sharing your heart. You touched my heart today by sharing. We truely share a WONDERFUL SAVIOUR and we have much to be thankful for. Blessings-Marie

Daveda said...

Great post Shanda! What pressure we place on the shoulders of others when we expect them to complete us! This is a job only God is big enough to complete. Thanks for Sharing!

Lorie said...

What a great post and a great time of year to think about it!

rhemashope said...

Thank you for being so transparent and sharing a story many can relate to - that of searching for the void in our hearts that only God can fill. I was truly touched by what you shared about your mother. Thank God for His perfect love and being all we need.

You really got me curious about the "rest of the story" - how you came to know and love your husband.

The youth at my church performed a powerful, moving dance to a song called "Everything" that deals with the very things you've written about here. You can watch a version of it here:

Kathryn said...

What a beautiful post, Shanda. I love the Scriptures! One that He speaks to my heart is Jeremiah 31:3: " ... 'I have loved you with an everlasting love ...' "

I pray that your mom is there now, fulfilled in His perfect and complete love!

Shanda said...

I had to edit out "the rest of the story" this time around...just too long. I will communicate it later on - God is good, faithful, and definitely a God of restoration!

I believe that my mom is now fulfilled completely in His perfect love & presence.

Blessings & Hugs!

Honey Mommy said...

Great post. I agree with a lot of what you had to say, and in addition this scripture kept coming to my mind:

1 Cor. 11: 11

Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.