love 1

Continuing from our previous post on marriage (if you have not read Part 1, click here)…

God’s story for us is one of pursuit and redemption, of lavish gifts and sacrificial love. This is not an epic love story—it’s The Epic Love Story.

God is love.

I love my husband. And over the last almost nine years, our relationship has grown from initial attraction and interest to deep love and affection; it has, at times, been both passionate and romantic, and other times, both ordinary and comfortable.

But Howell cannot be the lover of my soul. He cannot fill all my desires. He can’t complete me or satisfy me or fill me.

Only Jesus can do all of that.

And the moment I put that expectation on Howell: I fail, he fails, and our relationship stops working. Who can live up to that pressure? Who can trump Jesus?

It may sound paradoxical—let Jesus have all my desires, and my desire for Howell will be greater. Let Jesus fill me, and my love for Howell will be fuller. But that’s precisely how it works.

Today, we do have an extraordinary marriage not because of luck but because we’ve chosen to fight for our marriage—to choose forgiveness and to release expectations. Walking out forgiveness is even more countercultural than our expectations for love.

Deep down, here’s the battle. I love my husband, and I know he loves me. I know that he’s not spiteful or mean-spirited. He never intentionally hurts my feelings or disappoints me. But in the moment, I also feel hurt or disappointed. So the battle is determining what to choose—to choose what I know or to choose what I feel. And on paper, this sounds easy.

Obviously, I should choose what I know. But in the moment of your hurt feelings or disappointment, it’s a much more difficult decision. You think, if I choose to resolve this now, he won’t know how big of a deal it was. Or, if I choose to forgive, it’s just the same as saying it’s okay—and it’s not okay. Actually, the greatest lesson we could have learned (and I really believe this) was to stop saying “it’s okay” altogether. To, literally, stop using those words, and instead to say “I forgive you.”

Forgiveness brings freedom to your marriage. When you take the steps to surrender that issue—whether big or small—God comes in and does the supernatural work of healing. God comes in and restores love and grace in your heart toward your spouse. If the issue is small, the process of forgiveness is often easier, quicker. You remember why you love your spouse, you remember to expect the best in them, and you remember that you don’t want to keep record of wrongs. And so, you surrender and you release.

If the issue is great, sometimes that process takes more time. But don’t lose faith in His supernatural power; God is a God who heals—physically and emotionally. He can make you whole and free. He alone can fill your every desire. And He can bring extraordinary love to even the most ordinary marriages.

This post was written by Laura Brandenburg. To read more about her, click here.