Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. -Ephesians 5:25-27
When I was in high school I dated a boy who would text me lyrics to Secondhand Serenade songs to let me know he was thinking of me.
My seventeen-year-old self thought this was so romantic.
A few years later, after several boys who sent cutesy text messages and then broke up with me for refusing to give up my virginity, or due to not being able to handle my medical complications, or because I wanted to be a missionary, or what have you, I became a little bit cynical about dating and "love". I felt that I would never be "good enough" to be loved, that I was too damaged and imperfect, but I didn't stop trying. Although I felt pretty doom and gloom about relationships in general, but I still prayed every day that I would find the man I was meant to spend my life with.
On August 22nd, 2011 my prayers were answered.
I met Justin through a mutual friend at CUI just before classes began for the school year. He was blonde, played guitar, and made really lame jokes. And, cliche as this may be, I was head-over-heals in an instant.
It didn't take long for me to realize, however, that Justin was incredibly different from anyone I'd ever met before. We wrote music together, prayed for each other, talked for hours and hours about things most people would be scared to tell their best friends - and we had just met!
After we began dating, I was terrified of things going wrong. I didn't want to be abandoned and I didn't want to feel like a failure. I was scared, insecure, and unsure, but every time even a flicker of uncertainty came across my face, Justin was there in an instant to banish my fears.
When stress boiled over and I had relapses in PTSD symptoms, or when my depression would all but overtake me, he didn't run away, and he didn't just quietly give me a hug, not knowing what to do or say. Instead, he laid his hands on me and prayed out loud for peace. And when peace came, he would ask me to pray with him again for deliverance, for strength, for courage, and for comfort.
When I was in the hospital, still battling the consequences of my 2010 emergency Nicaraguan appendectomy and all the medical drama that followed the surgery, he didn't leave or tell me he couldn't handle it. He stroked my hair and held my hand while nurses blew veins trying to insert an IV. He communicated with doctors and nurses on my behalf when I was pumped so full of painkillers that I couldn't understand what was going on. He fought to make sure that every medical provider was doing their job and not trying to ignore my symptoms just because they were stumped about what was wrong with me. When I would be discharged from the hospital, he would take care of me: Communicating with my professors, grabbing me dinner from the cafeteria, and helping me remember when to take each of my million medications.
|Yeah, at one time, I took almost every single one of these multiple times a day. Not fun at all.|
Justin has, and does strive, everyday, to love me like Christ loves His church.
I often find myself overwhelmed by this. I feel undeserving of the kindness and understanding Justin shows me each day, regardless of whether or not I'm reciprocating with mutual kindness and understanding. I can't believe that he would still show me that kind of love and patience, and again, grace, in spite of my flaws and shortcomings.
It's then that I realize the parallels between my marriage to Justin, and Christ's marriage to His bride.
That's the beauty of a Christ-like husband. It's a reflection, although dim and imperfect, of the love, kindness, understanding, patience, forgiveness, and that wonderful world again: Grace, that we are freely given by our Lord through His atoning death on the cross and resurrection. That grace that we definitely don't deserve, and are completely unworthy of. But it doesn't matter, because Christ's love for us is so great and so deep and so perfectly perfect that our imperfections are completely drowned out by the depths of His flawless grace.
And I for one, am so blessed to have a husband who points me to that grace on a daily basis by his actions and words as he strives to be like Jesus. Not only am I reminded that our marriage isn't based on works-righteousness and a need to be "good enough", but more importantly, I am reminded that Christ's marriage to His bride, the church, isn't based on work-righteousness either. We don't have to be "good enough" because Jesus already went above and beyond in that department.
Just as I am so often undeserving of the beauty of the grace my husband demonstrates to me in our marriage, we are, by our sinful nature, undeserving of the beautiful gift of salvation given to us by Christ. But His love conquers and overpowers all, and we find ourselves made new, clothed in white, forgiven.