Seventeen Years

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Armageddon had just come out, Friends was still on television and the search engine Google was founded.  The Bulls were the NBA national champions.   Clinton was impeached.  (No comments please).  “Gettin’ Jiggy with it” was a really popular song.  Try getting that song out of your head now.  (Na-na, na, na, na-na, na…you’re turn.) You’re welcome.

The year was 1998 and it was also the same year that Jenn and I were married.  Hands down, one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made.  Outside of following Jesus, it is the decision that has impacted my life the most.  We recently went out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary and reflected on the last seventeen years of our life together.  It was crazy to think about how much time has past and how much our lives have changed.

One of the things that struck me was how much I’ve learned about the topic of love.  Going into our marriage, I loved Jenn.  There was no question about that.  It was a fledging love for sure but it was definitely love.  Based on her character and her life style, I was ready to spend a lifetime loving this woman.  But did I really know what that entailed?  Of course not.  Like many twenty somethings that tie the knot, I had no idea what I was getting myself into (she would tell you the same).  Seventeen years later, I am pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve learned from our relationship.  Here are just a few things that struck me.

I learned that love doesn’t stop, even when I’m suffering.  Thankfully the love that I receive and give needs to keep going.  Jennifer and I have loved through the loss of loved ones, the loss of dreams (not permanently), the loss of sanity (kids), the loss of direction in life and financial loss.  When we are able to choose that, because love isn’t a feeling it is a choice, our love grows and strengthens.  And it has done that.  (Romans 8:38-39)

I’ve also come to the realization that I need to choose to love the strengths of my wife.  She has to do the same with me.  It would be easy for us to chose to focus on the things that we aren’t doing right, that annoy us.  Okay, that would be a lot easier for Jenn to do than me.  She’s perfect.  🙂 But by choosing to love her strengths, and vice versa, I’m reminded of what I love about her.  If I’m doing this right, I’m shown new reasons why I love her. (Philippians 2:2-8)

Finally, something else that we’ve done right, (and we’ve made plenty of mistakes) is that we’ve chosen to love each other with the love Jesus has shown us.  We love each other with grace.  We have to come to a place where we realize that as individuals we are flawed.  We are broken.  The great thing is that God loves us despite our flaws.  Knowing that is pretty freeing.  I don’t have to earn His love.  If I know that, I’m free to love others in the same way.  I’m not setting up a paradigm where people have to earn favor with me.  I just love them. (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:8)

Honestly, time and space do not permit me to write down all of the lessons that I’ve learned about love over the years but these would definitely be in my top ten.  It has been a great seventeen years with my wife and I’ve been thankful and grateful to have learned them with her.  Peace out peoples.

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