What I’m Learning About Love

Marriage is hard. It takes work, effort. We have to be learning and growing, even if the pace is slow, or we will slide into a pit of complacency. If we’re stagnant, we’re decaying, breaking down. We were created to flourish and thrive, to move forward, together.

Years ago, a dear mentor of mine told me not to have expectations of my husband, that expectations would kill us as wives.

I wish I had understood more fully, more deeply, what she was saying. I used to think that it meant I couldn’t expect my sweet husband to help around the house or take out the trash.

All these years later, I’m finally getting past the surface level, and learning that for me, I can’t expect my husband to be my main source for love.

I know some of you already have this figured out, and if that’s you, pray for me. Pray for people like me. (Unless I’m the only one. Then you can all pray for me.)

I have been following Jesus for almost 14 years. And I’m just now starting to see this truth in a whole new light.

You see, the night I gave my life to Jesus, I also met my future husband. And so, for almost 14 years, I’ve been pursuing Jesus… and Jon. From very early on, Jon has shown me Jesus’ love, what it’s like to lay your life down for a friend, and I’ve often referred to him as my kinsman-redeemer.

But the lines got blurry and I realize now that somewhere along the way, I had forsaken my first love – Jesus. I never journeyed deeper into God’s love for me, individually, because I had the comfort of human love.

In our marriage and with our kids, we’ve tried to be more aware in this past season of how we best feel loved. And I keep hearing that phrase “fill their love tank”… that it’s our job to fill each other’s love tank. And I feel like my eyes and my heart have been opened to see this truth in a different way.

I’ve spent the majority of my life walking around with a hole in my soul begging to be filled, an empty space in my heart longing to be satisfied. Even as a Christian. Even as a married Christian.

So I’m left here wondering – who is really meant to fill my “love tank”? My spouse? God? Both?

Man’s love pales in comparison to God’s. And yet we look to our spouses to meet our needs and lavish us with love.

What if we brought our whole self to the table – wholly and holy loved by God? How much more mature would we be if we relied on God to fill our love tanks?

I’m starting to believe that God has to be the One and only to fill up my love tank. My husband can top it off, but the main source, the constant supply, should always be God and His perfect, unconditional love.

I can’t live my life on fumes any longer. And it’s not my husband’s fault or lack… I don’t believe I was created to be sustained by anyone’s love but God’s. I think we get messed up when we expect people to fill that hole in our heart that was meant for God.

Human love will never fill your love tank. It wasn’t meant to. Human love leaves us wanting more. God’s love satisfies and motivates us to love others.

I got this picture – if my life is a cake, God’s love would be the icing. It’s the sweetest. It’s the best part. And it covers over all our crumbs and imperfections. A spouse’s love is the sprinkles, the cherry on top, the decorations. Not required but beautiful still, complementing the Father’s full, complete, unconditional love. And it gets added on after the frosting.

How different would life be if we stopped expecting people to be our #1 source for love, and truly prioritized our relationship with God? What if we really were rooted and established in His love? Secure in Him and firmly planted in Him as our foundation?

In marriage, when we feel loved, we will love. It’s a byproduct, a natural response. But if we don’t feel loved, we naturally want to withhold love from the other person.

So what if we went to God first and fully received His love? We could jumpstart the cycle in our marriages! We wouldn’t be sitting around waiting to be loved by our spouse. We would be loved by God and our natural response would be to love God back, and let that love overflow into those He’s placed in our lives.

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

We have the ability, the grace, to love because God loved us first. I don’t love my husband because he loved me first. I love him because God loved me first.

I can’t love without God’s love. I can’t truly love if I haven’t received His love. I know that in my head, but do I live it? What would happen if I lived loved, relying on His love, instead of carrying an empty bucket around, looking for love in all the wrong places (even if those places are good… if they’re not God, they’re wrong).

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” – 1 John 4:16

I have to personally know and purposefully rely on God’s love for me. I have to believe in the depths of my mind and heart, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He loves me. No matter what.

Listen to Bethel’s song “Extravagant” and take a moment to reflect on how incredible His love is.

What if we saw His love as being just as valuable to us as the air we breathe?

I’ve never had a season to solely pursue Jesus or to focus on His pursuit of me. To only know and rely on His love. And so I will bravely enter into this next season of my life to know God’s love like never before, and to rely on His love with all that I am.

“Keep yourselves in God’s love.” Jude 21 

I have to keep myself in His love. I have to make time and space to sit in His love, to dwell with Him there. To let His love wash over me and change me. To open up my Bible and catch a glimpse of His heart, His character, His attitude toward me.

I am going to be responsible for keeping myself in God’s love, by prioritizing my First Love and presenting Him with my whole heart.

I’ve been listening to Bethel’s song, “Pieces“, and wondering what the best response is to His amazing love. He doesn’t give His heart to us in pieces. Maybe we should stop giving our hearts to Him in pieces.

He wants our whole heart. Our whole lives. Not just a piece of it, not just one area. And He sets the perfect example.

What will our response be to this love? This unconditional, unrelenting, unrestrained love? May we love Him back as best as we can, and be a conduit of His perfect love.