“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I had a sudden desire to buy a box of conversation hearts, feeling a bit nostalgic for the candy hearts with short “poetic” messages stamped in edible ink. In grade school, it was guaranteed that one of your classmates would include these with their cards during the Valentine exchange party. Romantic notions filled my head as I imagined the cute boy in my class purposely picking out for me the heart that said “I LUV U”. As you can guess, I had an overactive imagination. Fortunately, reality has set in over the last forty years. After basking in my nostalgia and imagining placing a heart in my mouth, I vividly recalled the hearts having a flavor that was a combination of Bayer aspirin and chalk, and an aftertaste like envelope adhesive. The memory of the repugnant flavor erased all sentiment, eliminating the desire to buy the box. I have similar urges to buy Candy Corn each fall and Robin’s Eggs each Easter, usually resulting in similar conclusions.
Upon reflection, my conversation heart fickleness seemed eerily similar to how I treat Valentine’s Day and, more importantly, my husband. Like most women, I love for my husband to spoil me on that day, with flowers and chocolate and a special card. Besides being spoiled, I also like to pamper my husband, making him his favorite steak dinner, with baked potato and a gooey chocolate dessert. After all, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!
Yet, the thought plagued me. Do I often treat my husband like the conversation hearts? Do I spend a few days being nostalgic about our marriage, basking in my memories, but then get the awful “aftertaste” of disappointment in my heart when he doesn’t meet my expectations? Do I send a quick text saying “I love you”, but get annoyed with him when he doesn’t take out the trash? Do I imagine the perfect Valentine’s Day date, but get disappointed when the date doesn’t meet my romantic notions?
I am human, and often my answers to these question have been “yes”. Yet, if I really want to be the honoring, loving wife for Terry that God wants me to be, I need to examine what God says about love in the famous love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13. So please bear with me as I translate it into Sherry vernacular in relation to my husband. Maybe you can relate…
1. If I speak eloquently and with all poetic finesse expressing myself like the inside of a Hallmark card, but do not love my husband, I sound like pots and pans clattering on my kitchen floor.
2. If I can predict when my husband is about to make a bad decision and have read all books on marriage and have a tremendous amount of conviction and do not love my husband, I am nothing.
3. If I am constantly helping my neighbors and serving in church to the point I am exhausted, but give my husband all my leftovers, I am nothing.
4. I love my husband by being patient when he is still hasn’t finished my honey-do-list. I love my husband by showing kindness when I’m irritable. I love my husband by not being envious of what others have; making his contributions seem worthless. I do not boast about my own strengths in my marriage and am humble enough to admit my faults.
5. Love does not dishonor my husband by complaining about him in front of my friends. Loving my husband means I don’t manipulate circumstances to get my own way. Love is not easily irritated by minor mistakes my husband makes. Love is not bringing up his past wrongs when dealing with a current issue.
6. Love does not relish when I am right and he is wrong, instead I love my husband by measuring my marriage to the Word of God, always allowing God to convict me of my own sin.
7. Love is always protecting my husband’s honor by showing him respect. Love always trusts that my husband will bless our family with the gifts God has given instead nagging him to fit my mold of what a good husband should be. Love always hopes that in times of adversity, we will remain together, building our future. Love always perseveres, never giving up when things seem hard.
8. Love never fails. This doesn’t mean I won’t fail or that Terry won’t fail, but that despite our personal failures, I will love my husband through the trial and stay committed to our marriage. I know that he is committed to us, and that he loves me and will continue to love me through my many failures.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Terry! You are so much better than the conversation hearts!!!!