Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. (Song of Solomon 8:6-7)
When I was a romantic-relationship beginner, I read about how to tell the difference between infatuation and true love. Infatuation was a rush of feelings, a fluttering in the belly, the desire for physical intimacy. It was like a high when it first came upon me, and I chased it like a puppy after a squirrel. I wanted it to be real. I wanted it to be true. But the closer I came, the more it eluded me, like a squirrel who ran up the tree, I could see it but it was out of reach. I could not catch it and keep it.
On the other end of the spectrum, I did not want to settle for the marriages I saw around me, where it seemed like the woman said to herself: "oh well, I married him, I guess I'll have to make the best of this tiresome situation." No, I wanted the Maria and Tony, the Rose and Jack, the Cinderella and Prince Charming perfect romance and the happily-ever-after marriage. Never mind these were not real people and in two of the three stories, one lover dies young. Why would they write on this topic if it could not be true? Isn't this what we all long for? Don't we all long for a love that is a blazing fire, that lasts forever?
Many years have passed since I was a beginner and over that time, I discovered there is an answer. There is such a thing as true love but it is based on the character of the lover, not the desirability of the beloved.
A love that cannot be quenched is not about beauty or charm. It is not about physical strength or sensual attractiveness. It is not about wit or wealth. It is about a bonding that happens over decades, through shared experiences, trials and joys. It is about an integrity that is loyal and steadfast but still has a sense of humor through the bad times and sickness and lack. It is about acting loving when we don't feel like it, when it costs us something. It is about tenderness when there is no longer a surge of delightful feelings.
|Our Wedding Day|
In the course of time, there comes a love that is as strong as death. That is why it takes commitment, because love gets truer over time. True love requires reliance on God, who has loved us first. His love has shown itself to be as strong as death. To attain true love, we must be connected to the Author of all Truth. Faith in Jesus brings to us the power of the Holy Spirit, and in His power we can have joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). When we have these things, we can love our husband well. When we bring the Spirit of God into the relationship, we can have a love that "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres," a love that "never fails." (1 Corinthians13:7-8)
Isn't that what we all want?
Father, thank you for the great gift of my husband and for Your mercy in keeping our marriage together for all these years. It is You, all You, and nothing we can claim we have done. We are grateful that now, after all these years, we understand better what true love is, a love that starts with You, continues as we love our children, grandchild and family, to include our friends, neighbors, co-workers and to the ends of the earth. Enable us to show all Your love because You first loved us.
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