We were on the rocks. There wasn’t any way to sugar coat it. The past two years had been filled with relentless change and hastily made decisions. Resentment had accumulated.
As the gondola lifted my brother and I up the side of the ski slope, I expressed my frustration. “Marriage is hard,” I said in the understatement of a century. “Sometimes I struggle to even like her!” My brother, four years my senior, was supposed to be my guide. I wanted him to give me a pep talk, share some pearl of wisdom. Mostly I wanted him to sympathize. I wanted him to tell me that I wasn’t being a baby about it and that yes, women are infuriating. But he just shook his head. “You just got to love her.” That’s it? Just buck up and “love her”? I couldn’t help thinking, “Really bro? Man, you are a regular Dr. Phil. I feel so empowered.”
But the truth of my brother’s advice was also apparent. I could blame and excuse myself to oblivion, or more likely heartache and divorce. Loving my wife, that was the other option. I knew my brother was right, but following his advice was the real challenge.
How do we learn to love? And what motivates us to do it? If you’re fortunate enough to have grown up in a family that modeled love, you’re probably fortunate enough to have some basic instincts regarding “doing” love. But amidst difficult circumstances, good instincts are unlikely to sustain much of anything. Just ask Peter, one of those lucky ones who was “with him,” yet hastily denied any such thing when the going got tough.
Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me?” three times over, not because He was hard of hearing, but because He wanted Peter to understand the depth of His own love for him. He had spent three days in the grave to affirm that truth. Love incarnate, that was Jesus’ mission on earth. Here was someone who stopped to see the needs of others, listened to their complaints and desperate pleas, but was never afraid to speak the truth. And then Jesus acted. Not as those around him expected, but doing the will of His Father and trusting in His goodness, even when sent to die! Love did conquer death and likewise finds a thousand little resurrections when we love our spouses.
It’s hard to “just love her,” but there’s no other way. Going to the Cross was a hard thing too, but it was the only way to redemption. The path of love is straight and narrow, and it leads through death into life.
To learn more about what it means to love, please join us every Sunday morning at 9:30 am for a Sunday discipleship class called ‘Love Walked Among Us’.