Continuing with my love theme this week, I want to get to the heart of the matter. I wrote about love being a choice we make each day when we are in a relationship with someone and I stand by that. Love, like our attitude, is all up to us. Regardless of circumstances. Regardless of hurts. Regardless of personal "needs", we choose to either remember why we love this person or to live in anger and resentment toward them. I totally agree with Lysa TerKeurst's comment in The Moment, "...great love isn’t two people finding the perfect match in one another. Great love is two people making the choice to be a match. A decision." We have to decide that this person--this love--is worth investing in, pursuing, and making great. Nothing is made great without effort!
There are many things we need to take into consideration in our relationships. We need to remember that none of us is perfect. We cannot control the other person or their actions, but we can love them the best we know how and pour into them. We can communicate our needs in a manner that is not accusatory, but directs our partners to how we want to be loved and what makes us feel like we are loved (what's your love language?). I think that if we focus on what we need rather than what they're not doing or doing "wrong", we are more apt to get the response we're hoping for. Through it all, pray for God to reveal to you how you can grow in Him. In many cases, we expect things of our spouses that is not their responsibility.
Your partner is not responsible for your happiness. Do they contribute to that? Yes, but we are responsible for how we react to what they do or don't do. We need to search our own hearts and figure out what it is we're hoping to get out of that relationship. Our partners are not responsible for filling us up or fulfilling things within us. We are responsible for that along with seeking who we are in Him who created us. We need to seek soft hearts and understanding in our relationships. I know it's hard when it's just one of you trying, too. My ex and I always seemed to be in different seasons. Lysa TerKeurst wrote a blog on that just recently and it made me aware of this truth from my marriage. We never really matched up in when we were working on our marriage. Nor, do I believe, we were working actively on ourselves and our responsibilities in the marriage except for brief periods of time until we'd feel defeated and quit again.
Lysa wrote another post on the 3 Marriage Lies, but she also shares the truth. The lies are these: 1.) I married the wrong person, 2.) S/He should make me feel loved, 3.) There is someone else better out there. And the truth is this: 1.) Having a good marriage is more about being the right partner than having the right partner, 2.) Love is a decision, 3.) The grass isn't greener on the other side. It's greener where you water and fertilize it. I couldn't agree more.
I went through those questions before I decided to end my marriage. It's never an easy decision. The key is in searching yourself, seeking God, and being the best you can be. I don't believe that you should wait until you have someone new before you leave your current relationship. If you're to the point where that is a consideration, throw on the brakes and reassess what you're doing. If you're so miserable in the midst of your marriage, why are you still in it? It takes two parties to make a marriage work. There are also reasons to choose to leave a marriage: abuse, infidelity, believer/non-believer incompatibilities (unequally yoked). Abuse is not called out in the Bible, but there is nothing in the Bible that leads me to believe that hurting someone is God's plan. He calls us to love one another, and abuse is not what we do in love. Real love is patient, kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs, it does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth, it always protects, it always trusts, it always hopes, it always perseveres. (1 Cor 13:4-7, NIV). If that is not how you know love to be, you may want to re-evaluate.
Start with your own heart. Your own actions. You. That's the only part you can be responsible. The rest is up to God. If your partner chooses not to love, then you have to choose what that's worth to you. What you're worth. I leave you with this reminder, God loved you enough to send His only Son to die for you. His Son said this, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” In all things, seek Him first and the rest will come. He is a promise keeper. He can be trusted. He is your hope and your future, and it is good!