What about unconditional love?
So in a perfect world, someone might read this and wonder, “Why would anyone be insecure in their marriage? Marriage is supposed to be where two people love each other unconditionally.”
SO true, Jimmy! Gold star to you!
But as we probably have realized by now, we most certainly do not live in a perfect word. That man over there that we said some vows to a few years ago isn’t anywhere near perfect either. (Aaaand, neither are we).
Read any good books recently?
I’ve recently started reading the book This Momentary Marriage. To be honest, it’s hard for me to hold back the tears when I read such words of wisdom from a truly humble couple (I also kind of just tear up at everything). BUT this book is so good. I hope to finish it soon and write a (raving) review but my book review cue has been getting bigger and bigger recently so it may happen later than planned.
ANYWAY. John Piper writes a chapter titled “Naked and Unashamed” in which he explains that there are 2 causes for shame in marriage. (Paraphrasing here…) 1. Knowing that you, yourself, are in imperfect being and (if you’re a Christian) feeling guilt (and shame) for your imperfection and sin. And reason number 2. Knowing that your spouse is imperfect and incapable of complete selfless and unconditional love and therefore feeling as though they cannot be fully trusted to love you completely.
Piper illustrates these 2 points with the story of Adam and Eve from the Bible where they eat the fruit that God told them not to eat in the garden. After they ate, they realize their sin and then felt ashamed because their eyes were opened to their sin. As a result of both sinning, they felt guilt and shame for their own sin and a mistrust of each other knowing now that their spouse was selfish.
Does all that make sense?
In other words, we know that we’re imperfect, so we feel insecure about ourselves and our imperfectness (yes, it’s a word, I checked). We know that our husbands are imperfect and might not (probably won’t) love us unconditionally all the time. Therefore, we feel insecure.
Ok, now it’s starting to make sense…
Maybe you can relate…
Here’s an example of how this might show up in my own marriage and maybe yours too:
Body image. Enough said, right? I know that sometimes I can be lazy and/or impulsive with my eating habits and fitness routine. But even now, when Josh and I have changed our eating habits a TON and have been trying to exercise regularly, I still feel this way. I know that my body is less than perfect. And even though my husband tells me he loves me and tells me I’m pretty I know that there are “prettier” girls out there and my husband could be prone to find them more attractive, because I know he’s not perfect therefore can’t fully have a perfect selfless love for me.
So, my trust in my husband’s love falters and my insecurity grows…
How to deal…
So how do we get over the rough cycle of being imperfect and being married to an imperfect person?
DON’T DO THIS:
It is so popular these days to have a “My way or the highway,” “Take it or leave it” attitude in relationships. Yeah, I’m talking to you, strong women. I searched “Strong Women” quotes on Pinterest and these are a couple of the most popular ones. Raise your hand if you’ve seen these anywhere on the socials:
I’m going to be really honest here. This mindset is really selfish. And who wants a man who’s a pushover? Yes, he needs to be kind and love you and give you grace. God calls husbands to lay down their lives for their wives (Ephesians 5). But he also calls them to lead. I’d like to think that my husband is smart enough and loves me enough to tell me when I need to change and if I can improve. Plus, there’s a lot to be said for actually respecting your husband. So there’s that.
Know and understand that both we and our spouse are incapable of unconditional and selfless love on our own. Yes, have standards for your spouse, but know that he’s a human. When he messes up and doesn’t love you like he should, remember Christ. He (sacrificially) loved us enough to die for us knowing just how imperfect and unlovable we were going to be. Jesus set the example of what a perfect and complete love is willing to do.
So, when we feel our spouse is being unlovable, remember what Christ did for him, what he did for you, and let that inspire you and give you strength and confidence in how much you are so loved by Christ and how you can go on to love your husband, even when he doesn’t deserve it. We can allow Christ to fill in those imperfect gaps, remembering His example of how He loved and died for us (and rose again, defeating death and imperfection).
If you allow yourself to know that Christ can make up your imperfections and that you are fully and ALWAYS loved by Him, no matter what your spouse does, it will give you the strength you need to feel secure and love your spouse no matter what. Now that’s a strong woman!
Getting a bit personal:
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, Josh used to struggle pretty frequently with anger. He’s never been violent, but I would find myself shocked at how rapidly his demeanor would change and how he could be so unloving at times. Since he’s a man who, despite his anger, loves God, he would always feel remorse for his anger and come to me seeking forgiveness.
After a while, I began to get sick of forgiving him. I got so tired of the same apology and always having to try to trust him again. At one point, I found myself thinking,”Why should I forgive you? You’re just going to do it again. Why would I be so stupid as to let myself be close to you after I know what you’re going to do again?” And in that moment, God honestly spoke to my my heart and said, “Because I did that for you…” After I lost it and cried for a while I made a decision in my heart that I was never going to hold back my forgiveness for my husband again. Even in the moment, if I was angry, I would still decide to forgive Josh, and then eventually the feelings would follow.
This verse, although (unfortunately) used lots of times to defend sin, rings in my mind with what I think it was actually intended for in those moments when I am choosing to forgive Josh, or anyone for that matter.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
Let’s be real, forgiveness in marriage is so hard and so humbling. And it takes a ton of strength to be able to do. But we can call on God for that strength and the results are so beautiful!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
Confidence + Humility = Love
I love you guys and I’d love to hear your own stories and struggles of overcoming insecurity and imperfection in your own marriages. If this post spoke to you or if you’d like to share with a friend, hit one of the share buttons at the bottom and remember to follow on social media!