Recently as I watched the news, I was captivated by a precious gentleman in his late 90’s as he reflected on what was most important in life. Standing among storm debris and a tree that had fallen on his home, he said, “This is nothing bad compared to what we have just been through.”
A few months prior, his beautiful wife ~ the love of his life ~ had passed away. Their love story began during weekly “mall walks” with friends in 2012, and from there, the rest was history. They married soon after and spent the next 11 years by each other’s sides. Life without her suddenly seemed so very small. The hole in his roof now mirrored the brokenness of his heart.
Staring at the screen in front of me, I simultaneously swooned and sank at both the wonder of this man’s love story and the weight of it.
Loving your spouse has truly magical moments. And wholly loving someone has a heap of messy miles, too.
Author, speaker, and psychiatrist Curt Thompson, in his book The Soul of Shame, says: “We are all born into the world looking for someone looking for us, and [we] remain in this mode of searching for the rest of our lives.”
Our hearts matter. We have been fearfully and wonderfully made for relationship.
So to be found at the end of my life, to be the love of my husband’s life (and he mine), is really beautiful and good and, well, movie-like.
But is it right?
So I shared my ponderings with a trusted friend. Which initially, she laughed and kindly reminded me that I was way over-thinking these five little words. Agreed ((wink))!! And yet it’s how God designed me, so even when I am buried in thought and wish I could just “let it go,” I try to reframe my overthinking into reform. In other words, I steady my gaze on finding beauty in the brutal. Glory in the mess. Light in the dark, or in this case, a shade of gray.
For weeks, the tender expression of this widowed man (the darling, grieving one from the evening news) lapped circles in my head and spun curiosity in my heart. “What does this kind of epic love even mean?” “Could this be the newsworthy highlight that my marriage would testify to?”
After dragging my unsuspecting friend into the mysteries of a fairly simple phrase, she concluded the following with ease: “You know, those words hold a lot of pressure. It’s too much pressure.”
Well, I wasn’t expecting that, nor the sudden sense of hope that her words brought. They made perfect sense; after all, who on earth could ever meet the immense expectations and promises that come with true love, apart from perfect Love. Her answer gifted me with a fresh perspective, allowing much-needed space for a holy whisper. To which another friend in our coffee corner confidently yet humbly spoke up to testify to the love of her life, Jesus. And then she concluded that anything else would be to presume on His supremacy–His rightful place–in her life.
And just like God, He invited me to a banqueting table the very next morning, prepared with the truth my heart had been longing for.
“I stand silently to listen for the one I love … For He alone is my safe place. His wraparound presence always protects me as my champion defender. There’s no risk of failure with God! … The Lord is my Savior, my hero, and my life-giving strength. … God said to me once and for all, All the love you need is found in me!’” Psalm 62:1, 7-8a
It is true. There is only One who can hold up and under the weight of a whole life of love unfailing.
The One who woos us and wants us, despite our unfaithfulness. The One who thought we were so utterly indispensable that he gave His life for us. The One who sees right through us and never takes His eyes off of us. The One singing beloved over us, right in the middle of our most unlovely, drawing us into safety so that we too may have the courage to sing,
“I am my love’s, and my love is mine.” Song of Solomon 6:3, CSB
In other words, I’ve been created for love, the kind that only one can ever satisfy.
Jesus, the love of my life. The One whose “faithful love is [actually even] better than life.” Psalms 63:3, brackets mine for emphasis.
As for the man to whom I said a perfectly imperfect “I do,” there’s no earthly rival to the love we’ve storied. And no pressure either. All is grace.
We love because He first loved us.