As Valentine’s Day is coming tomorrow I thought it fitting to feature something hopefully we will all be celebrating in one way or another…
This won’t be a lovey dovey read, beware, if you are looking for gift ideas for your sweetheart you won’t find it here. Actually this is probably one of the least Valentine’s Day posts you might read this week – but maybe one of the more important ones.
Most of us know 1 Corinthians 13 as the love chapter. If you have never read the chapter, I encourage you to do so, I have included it at the end of this post.
Today I’m going to focus on one particular section of this chapter. I’m going to get a bit real with you, and share a bit of my journey.
Verse 5 of 1 Corinthians 13 says love “does not seek its own”.
This is something my husband and I discovered very early on in our marriage. That if I served him, if I found ways to bless him, and him me, then somehow we would both be looked after. My husband modelled this first, I believe. It was easy for me to follow his lead.
When we stop looking at how we are being treated but rather how we are treating, how we are blessing, how we are serving those we love then we have a perspective shift. This isn’t just for marriage!
I remember in the early days of being married to an army man, he would be away months at a time, I had been in missions work before we married and I was use to being the one away. Then, not quite a year into marriage I was pregnant with our first son, very very sick, and he had to be away for three months. Thankfully I have my family nearby. They were amazing. But, still, no one could replace Ben.
I made that sound like we are veterans of this marriage thing didn’t I? It will be seven years this August, so I guess we are more like newlyweds (that’s what we like to think anyway)!
Anyway… where was I? Right!
I started to fall into this trap of, “where are my friends?” And every time Ben went away in those first few years, I would fall into this trap. I wouldn’t make much, if any effort, I would wait for them to call me. I fell into self pity. Not a fun place to be. Have you been there?
It took a long time for a real perspective shift to come on my part. About a year and a half ago to be exact. My husband was away for two months this time, and the first month had been awful. The boys were 18 months ish and 3 ish at the time.
Sorry I know, this is a love post, trust me we will get there.
This is real life.
Half way through that trip, so beginning of October, I had this huge revelation: peace. You can read about that here. When you read that post, remember I didn’t share what I was going through. I simply shared the victory. I don’t think people always need to know the nitty gritty details of the struggle – I’d rather give glory to God and talk from a place of victory. And I can do that now.
October of 2016 was a much better month than September had been, let me tell you. As I chose to “rejoice always”, as I chose PEACE, as I chose to put my trust and hope in the Lord, I stopped looking at my own circumstances and started to see outward.
Every trip after that has been easier. When I stopped questioning the how and simply trusted, took a day, and often a moment at a time, became more organized things changed. God gave me keys. Because I was finally listening.
I started to say, “How am I going to parent these boys and juggle everything with my husband away? Well, I just am.”
I realized that my family needed me. My army husband needed me at peace and rockin’ it here at home. My sons needed their mom full of two of my favourite things: joy and peace. If you have read my blog much, you will see a theme of those two things here.
I realized that I didn’t want my kids twenty years from now to say, “when dad was home everything was awesome, but when dad was away we didn’t do much and mom was sad all the time”.
Once I got my eyes off of myself, I was able to finally be there for others. And not just my family.
Moms, sometimes we need a perspective shift. Whatever your situation is, whether you’re an army wife like me, or you’re in ministry, a single mom, a working mom, whatever it is. We all need to choose JOY and PEACE and say, “I’m just gonna do it”. Rock it.
If that’s hard to get your head around, read this from Proverbs.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5, 6 NASB
And that was the best way that I could love my husband and my sons. When I looked to the Lord for the strength that I needed to serve my family.
I don’t wait anymore for others to notice I’m lonely. I just send out a text to a few friends saying “we are headed to the park!” and vua-la. Play date!
I’m not perfect in this, there are still times when I can struggle to see how God’s going to fill the gaps. One time I went to my wonderful friend Kate and she prayed for me before I had a chance to even ask her. That thing began to lift immediately. She didn’t let me stay there. That’s a good friend. That’s the kind of friend we all need.
Maybe you don’t have someone to spend Valentine’s Day with – my husband and I will actually be at church for Wednesday night service – regardless of whether you have someone or not I hope you will remember a few things:
- Jesus loves you and wants to be your all. Don’t make a god out of that person you love. They can’t fill God’s shoes. They will fail. At some point. (see Deuteronomy 6:5)
- Find a way to really bless the ones you love this week, not expecting anything in return. But also make sure you remember that there is One who loves you far greater than any of us can imagine. (see John 3:16)
- Single people, I was single once too. Don’t think that marriage will complete you. God completes you. And it takes two whole, complete people who rely on the Lord to make a great marriage. So while you wait, work on making yourself whole, healed and seeking first the Kingdom of God. Then one day you’ll realize God has arranged it all while you were seeking Him. (see Matthew 6:33)
- Married people, the best way for you to love your spouse is to love God first with all that we are. And that’s really the only way that we can really love selflessly, the way that 1 Corinthians 13 talks about. (see Matthew 6:33)
When I was in Junior High my eighth grade teacher read this to us. I knew it well, but it really amazed me that he pulled out his Bible and read this to us on Valentines Day:
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13 NASB