"Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be…"
~ Robert Browning
Is it strange that it was through divorce I learned what love was?
First through Christ, who relentlessly pursued me amidst the rubble of my sin-wrecked life. In the dark and quiet recesses of the night, I could sense His presence and His calling, whispering into the dark and quiet recesses of my soul. This was not the God I thought I knew; the one who I'd feared was so deeply disappointed, if not outright angry, with me; the one who I was sure had cast me aside as useless, disgraced. He revealed Himself to me as a loving Father, and it was - true to His word - His kindness and His goodness that literally led me to repentance (Romans 2:4). The realization of His love, unconditional, overwhelmed my heart. I learned and relearned what it meant to love - and to be loved.
Secondly, and perhaps ironically, I learned a deeper love through my ex-spouse. The one person who had right to treat me with disdain treated me with kindness. The one person who had the right to speak terrible things to and about me, never spoke a harsh word. He walked out the years following our divorce with such rock-solid integrity, never acting or reacting foolishly. Even in the depths of his suffering, he endured with steadfast perseverance. During those years, he wasn't relying on his on strength, but on Christ - and because of that, his actions spoke much louder than words ever could, revealing not only to me - but anyone who knew us - what it meant to love as Christ loves.
"Love your wives just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her."
~ Ephesians 5:25
He was simply a mirror reflecting the love of Christ. He was patient and kind, never jealous or rude, never demanding his own way and never once did he hold onto my record of wrongs.
"Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful of proud or rude.
It does not demand it's own way.
It is not irritable and keeps no record of wrong or being wronged."
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
In 2000, that portion of scripture had been read at our wedding ceremony - even though neither of us knew what love was at the time. Not really. Not real love. Not the love of Christ in us and through us.
Thirteen years later, we stood at the altar together again. This time, knowing. This time, with our two children standing next to us. After the ceremony, our youngest began to cry, small crocodile tears at first, then weeping. We sat with him in the small room outside of the foyer.
"I'm just so happy," he whispered.
He had never known joy that brought tears until that moment.
Because God has revealed His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, He died for us. (1 John 4:9) And while I was still a sinner, He reached for me. He called me by name. He lifted me from the miry pit and set my feet upon the rock (Psalm 40) and He etched His word into my heart.
"You will restore my life again and from the depths of the earth, lift me up." ~ Psalm 71:20
All of this life is learning and relearning Christ's love for us.
We are constantly learning and relearning to live and walk in His spirit, so that our lives may reflect the fruit of His spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
That we may show the world what love is, with the life He has given us.