What is Love? Guest Post No. 5
Today’s guest is Caroline Merriman, who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA, with her husband Jake and two little daughters.
I knew it was real love, when, despite obstacles in our way (widowhood, geographical separation and different timelines), God brought our paths together, as we each surrendered to His will for our lives and to one another. Yes, this real love would be tested as we began to live life together, but God has been faithful to help us honor the commitment that we made at the altar.
What happens to our love when we are faced with the harsh realities of life?
After eight years of marriage, my understanding of real love has evolved and deepened. As my husband and I have walked through different seasons, and trials together, we have had an opportunity to understand love on a new level. What happens to our love when we are faced with the harsh realities of life, when we are stripped bare of the gift we both longed for (a child who was born without life), when we find ourselves on our knees before God, crying out to him in our grief? As I have had the blessing of discovering, the answer is a greater and stronger love than we once knew.
When we choose to cling to each other and to our God through the storm, a bond is formed in the midst of the pain. It is as if we are on a journey together, hiking to the top of a mountain. We start off at the bottom with seldom a care in the world, hand in hand, singing a happy tune. It is fun and we are elated to just be together. As the hike progresses and we must go through rocky patches and up steep hills, we realize that we need one another. We aren’t just holding each other’s hand because it is nice, but because we need the support of the other. That firm grip gives us the confidence we need to put one foot in front of the other. That strong arm tells us we are not alone, and we feel empowered at that moment. That touch reminds us of the love that is so real, carrying us through. Some days it may seem easier to make the climb alone, as we might prefer a different pace or even trail. But when we are willing to receive the hand that is offered, when we admit we are weak, something miraculous happens. It is in the shared experience (whether trial or joy) that love grows. When we get through the hard stretch and stop to look at the view, the joy is greater because it is shared, and because the other one knows intimately the struggle which was overcome.
Vulnerability is a scary thing
Real love is also choosing to love the other person when we have seen their worst and ugliest side. Vulnerability is a scary thing, but as one opens up and reveals their true self to another, an intimacy is created which gives birth to real love. Real love is humble, and readily admits weakness. We are but mere humans, and were it not for the example of the ultimate real love displayed for us at the cross of Jesus, we would not be able to experience the reflection of this love here on earth. When each individual in a marriage looks to God’s real love, he or she has a model of what they can have in a marriage. One cannot truly love sacrificially without the help of God, as our nature is selfish. What a gift we have in the Lord, that He would allow us to experience such love with another person! I can only dare to imagine what real love is after many more years of companionship, intimacy, and sacrifice in marriage.