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Forever Friday: Faithfulness

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After a break for a couple of weeks (writing a novel is time-consuming, man!), it’s time to pick it back up again. ūüôā Our study on Galatians 5:22-23 continues. ‚̧ Today, it’s all about faithfulness.

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I think it’s probably fair game to say that faithfulness–especially in relationships–seems to be out-of-the-norm these days, at least as portrayed by media. We continually hear news of this person cheating on that person, and really, it’s tiresome. And sad. And it breaks my heart.

Hollywood makes it sound like being faithful in a relationship is too hard or old-fashioned. Well, I’m here to say¬†it’s not.

You know me, so you know I love my definitions. Ha! The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines faithful as, “having or showing true and constant support or loyalty; deserving trust–keeping your promises or doing what you are supposed to do; not having sex with someone who is not your¬†spouse” (emphasis mine to make it simpler).

It’s a pretty simple list, right? Of course right! So why do humans have such a hard time being faithful in relationships, whether that’s friendships or marriages?¬†Because we’re humans.¬†We’re sinful. We’re selfish by nature.

And that’s why we need God. Because with him, nothing is impossible.

For nothing will be impossible with God.Luke 1-37, ESV

I’m definitely not perfect. I’ve made my fair share (more than, if I’m being honest) of hurtful choices. I’ve not followed through with promises, and wavered in my constant support.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23, ESV

But some encouragement for you!

We¬†are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
Romans 3:24-25, ESV

So to be faithful? Trust in God! Look to Him as your example of faithfulness. Here’s a list of verses you can read to see His faithfulness to us:

                              2 Timothy 2:13                                           1 Corinthians 1:9
Deuteronomy 7:9                                     Psalm 33:4
2 Thessalonians 3:3                                 Psalm 86:15
Jeremiah 29:11-13                                    Lamentations 3:23
1 Corinthians 10:13                                  1 John 1:9

For those who have been hurt by the unfaithfulness of others, don’t let that be your opinion of God.

 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar
Romans 3:3-4b

So take heart, my friend! Follow the Lord’s example in faithfulness. And trust in Him when you’ve experienced the unfaithfulness of others. Put Galatians 5:22-23 into practice.

And I’ll do the same.

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Forever Friday: Goodness

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So yes. After a wee bit of a hiatus, I’m back in the saddle, and it feels so good! Read on to get my take on goodness from Galatians 5, and how I see it relate to marriage.

It’s an easy one, people.

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So, you all by now probably know that I like definitions of words to help me brainstorm. And today’s no different. Goodness is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the quality or state of being good.”

My personal belief is that we can’t be good apart from God.We’re all sinful people. We do wrong by one another. We ice-cream-778311_640may have moments of kindness, but overall we’re a selfish people. I mean, I want that last scoop of ice cream rather than give it to Donkey.

Differentiating between goodness and kindness can be hard at times. We tend to equate the two when really, they are different. So here are some practical ways we can bring goodness to our spouses and our marriage.

  1. Listen! You know that saying, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Yep. close-up-18753_640That. But instead of just¬†hearing what your spouse is saying (you know, hearing their voices drone on while you’re thinking of something else or what you’re going to say to negate what they’re saying…#guilty),¬†stop thinking and really pay attention.
  2. Encourage your spouse. Especially when you know they’re struggling or down in the dumps about something.
  3. Tell your spouse what you appreciate about them. Every day. Seriously. I think one of the keys to long-lasting marriages is a genuine appreciation for and looking for the positive in your spouse each day. Tell your husband you appreciate how he provides (or helps provide) for your family (even if it’s just the two of you). Tell your wife you appreciate what she does around the house or how she helps provide. Be specific!
  4. Pray for your spouse. Not that God will change your spouse, but that He will change¬†you and help¬†you be a better spouse to your partner. Pray for those areas you know your spouse is struggling in, and¬†pray for protection for your husband or wife. Let’s face it: there are temptations everywhere we look. Pray for God to protect your spouse both in mind, body, and spirit.photo-1
  5. Have¬†fun together! There was a meme that went around Facebook a few years ago that showed a wife’s note to her husband along with a Nerf gun. The note and Nerf were ready for him when he walked in the door that evening. She warned him. Haha!

A side note: I can’t let the events of the past couple of weeks go unmentioned. The shootings of so many people–out of fear and out of revenge–is abominable. Goodness isn’t just for marriage. It’s for life. It’s how Jesus wants us to live–that’s why it’s in the Bible. These five ways I mentioned don’t only apply to marriage, but to every relationship. After all, “God created man in his own image,¬†in the image of God he created him;¬†male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27, English Standard Version). Every individual mirrors an image of God, if that makes sense. There are 16,000–sixteen thousand–people groups on this planet, and each is an image of God. How diverse is our Lord??? There is no one ethnicity that is greater than another. So be good to one another. Be kind. Show love.

So, what are some ways you bring goodness to your marriage? I need more ideas! (We all do!) If you aren’t married, what have you seen in other marriages that you admire? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Because, you know…I’m curious and am¬†always up for learning more!

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To read the other posts in this series on Galatians 5:22-23, click on these links: love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness.

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Forever Friday: Kindness

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In light of events this past week in Orlando, Florida, I think it’s pretty safe to say this little series on love–and specifically this post on kindness–is coming at the right time. My heart aches for those families who have lost loved ones, for those who are laying in the hospital physically healing but emotionally scarred for life, for the first responders who had to witness such horror. And yes…my heart also aches for those who believe such lies as the murderer believed. This world needs hope. This world needs Jesus.

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I think I can safely assume that you all know the meaning of kindness. But let me give you a quick rundown. “Kind” means to be “of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person: a kind and loving person; having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence: kind words; indulgent, considerate, or helpful, humane: to be kind to animals; mild, gentle, clement” (from Dictionary.com).

In marriage–in all of life, this really just means to care for your spouse. Be good natured, use kind words, be considerate and helpful, be mild and gentle. I won’t lie. I’m not always kind (shocker, right? Ha!). But I try, and my husband tries (he does a much better job of it, I think). Being kind really paves the way for more patience with one another and even a deeper love. It’s not a guarantee, but it can’t hurt.

As for what happened at the nightclub in Orlando…it’s hard to process when anything of this nature happens. But look around and you’ll see kindness happening, even in the midst of incredible evil and sorrow.

This is a short post, I know. I just don’t have the words. And kindness, well…it’s simple. Be kind.

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Forever Friday: Patience

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Oh patience. Can I admit it’s not my strongest character trait? But can I also admit that I’m one of those weird Christians who actually¬†do pray to receive patience?

Yeah. Crazy.

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Like I’ve already said, patience isn’t my strongest virtue, so yep, I need to pray for it. And yep, the Lord will often give me opportunities to practice patience. Especially with my kids.

Especially during summer vacation.

It is currently summer vacation. But I digress.

I absolutely love¬†my husband, Donkey (watch Shrek, then you’ll understand), but I¬†admit that I get impatient. I have what they call Misophonia, so I often lose my patience when I’m hearing certain noises that trigger it (screeching, repetitive noise, whistling through the nose while breathing, chewing…you name it, it hurts my ears and causes almost instant headaches…and impatience). During the first year or two of our marriage, I was so enamored with Donkey that these things didn’t bother me. But then they slowly crept in, and my patience level slipped. And slipped. Aaannnddd…you get the idea.

Trust me, it isn’t only noise that causes impatience in me. It’s truly my own sinful self.

Having patience in a marriage is absolutely necessary. If there’s no patience with one another, there is constant nagging (which the Bible warns us not to do here, and here, and here, among other places) and bickering. Who wants to be in a marriage that is full of battles?

A lack of patience seems to have its root in anger. When you feel impatient with someone, you’re usually (if you examine yourself) becoming angry with them, and sometimes rather quickly.

“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the hearts of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9, ESV).

I don’t know about you, but 99% of the time, my impatience stems from anger for not getting my own way (…can you say “childish”?? Yikes. I have a¬†lot to work on!). I think it’s so good for us to sit down by ourselves with our Bibles and really examine¬†why we act the way we do. Knowing this may really help us to change our behaviours in the future, and strengthen our marriages and other relationships.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” Ephesians 4:2, NIV).

Don’t be afraid to pray for patience. More so, however, don’t be afraid to¬†ask God to change you. I’ve been praying that for the past two days now, that God wouldn’t change my circumstances, but change¬†me, and I can tell you, what a breath of fresh air! He¬†is changing me, and it’s freeing.

And I’m pretty sure my husband and kids are appreciating it, too. ūüėČ

What about you? Do you struggle with patience? Is there anything–even if it isn’t impatience–you need to ask God to change in you? I’d love to hear so I can pray for you, too. ‚̧

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Forever Friday: Peace

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I’m continuing on with my 1 Corinthians 13 series today. You can read Love here and Joy here. Today is all about peace.

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Confession: I love a peaceful home. Quiet, calm, not much activity. My cat sleeps on my legs during the day, I drink coffee (duh) and write…and not just on Facebook. ūüėČ But then my kiddos come home from school and my husband comes home from work. The quiet house? Not so much anymore. (Okay, another confession: it’s still quieter than a lot of my friend’s homes when their kids come home.)

Peace isn’t just quiet and calm. In my mind, it’s also trust.

My husband (Donkey is his call sign…Shrek anyone? Nonstop chatter? Yep. My husband is Donkey.) is away from home quite often due to his job. His job requires him to fly various missions around the world. The problem with his job? If his plane goes down, so does everyone on that jet, including Donkey. I’ve seen tragedy and I know we’re not immune to that possibility. I do get nervous sometimes, especially if he’s flying out of the country rather than just a simple mission for a few hours. But that’s where trust comes in.

          When I am afraid,
              I put my trust in you.
           In God, whose word I praise,
              in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
              What can flesh do to me?
~Psalm 56:3-4, ESV

When I have trust in the Lord, peace follows.

          You keep him in perfect peace
              whose mind is stayed on you,
              because he trusts in you.
~Isaiah 26:3, ESV

Peace in marriage is so vital. Donkey and I do argue, though his absences make us more conscientious about enjoying one another. When we argue, however, we still try to keep peace between us. We¬†try not to raise our voices (I think we do a good job of that, but I don’t record our arguments, so really, I have no idea), and we try to work our arguments out quickly, and always before going to sleep. Only once have we gone to bed mad at one another, and it was¬†not fun…nor was it a good sleep.

Disagreements, arguments, fights…they can happen in a marriage. Well, in¬†any relationship. Keeping the peace, trusting in God…those can be hard. But pray together, spend time¬†with God, keep Him your focus, and peace will follow.

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I know that no marriage is perfect, and believe me, I am so preaching to the choir when I write these posts! So help a girl out. ūüôā How do¬†you keep peace within your relationships? Do you have any Bible verses you focus on? I’d love to hear (okay,¬†read) your thoughts, so feel free to comment below!

 

 

 

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Forever Friday: Joy

 

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Keeping up with the Fruits of the Spirit in marriage today. ūüôā Next up: Joy.

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When I was younger, I used to think that joy was all about feeling happy, having fun, and laughing a lot. It¬†is that, but it’s¬†more than that when we invite God into things.

The world’s definition of joy is: “1. the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation. 2. a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated. 3. the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety. 4. a state of happiness or felicity” (Dictionary.com).

The Bible, however, says a couple of things about joy. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,¬†for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.¬†And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4, English Standard Version). And “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4, ESV).

Have you ever known someone who has gone through something terrible–a death in the family, cancer, abuse, etc.–but has still somehow maintained joy? I’ve been so fortunate to know such people. Honestly, on my side of things, I don’t know how they do it. But I know what they would say: it’s all God, not them. It’s a supernatural thing, something that, until you go through it, you probably won’t understand.

Joy is something that lasts. It endures, even through painful times. It’s different than happy. Happy is a feeling that comes and goes–joy sticks with us. I have joy because of God, but I’m not always a happy camper. Ask my husband and kids. (…Actually,¬†don’t ask them. I don’t want your perception of me ruined. HA!!) The best explanation on the difference between happiness and joy that I’ve read can be found at GotQuestions.org.

So how does this relate to marriage? I believe when both people in the marriage have joy–the enduring kind of joy–their marriage is stronger. They may not always be happy, but they’re not as tempted to find that joy outside the marriage. Their love deepens and endures They can forgive more easily (note I’m not saying they can forgive¬†easily, just¬†more easily, in my experience). They rely on God first for their worth and are more complete, not looking to their spouse to make them complete or happy or to give them joy.

Does that make sense? (And oh, please know I’m talking to myself here, too!)

How do we get joy? The only time I’ve truly experienced joy is when I’ve given up my self: my desires, my ambitions, my goals, my dreams, my own fulfillment, and I’ve sought God: His desires for me, His ambitions for me, His goals for me, His dreams for me, His fulfillment in me. When I seek Him and find Him, I find joy.

For more verses on joy (and what it means and entails), visit Faith Gateway.

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Forever Friday: Love

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I’ve been thinking long and hard about marriage and what it all entails. Can I just tell you? It entails a¬†lot.¬†There are so many characteristics and traits we need to bring to our marriages to make them work and balance one another out. I think the best list, however, outside of 1 Corinthians 13 (which I wrote about here), is Galatians 5:22-23. The¬†Fruits of the Spirit.

I hope you all know that I don’t write from a place of expertise. I write from a place of learning. When I sit down to read things and study for these posts, it’s because they’re things I¬†need to learn, not just for my marriage’s benefit, but for my own growth.

Because sometimes, I’m a lousy person.

So why don’t we sit on these two verses for the next number of weeks? And first, look at love.

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First, I think the best definition of love is actually not found in the dictionary, but in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Do you notice something when you read those Bible verses? Every description of love in there is a verb. An action.

My husband is a good example of love in action. He doesn’t just think of me and maybe buy me something when he’s out of the country. When he’s home, he’ll pick up the broomplate-629970_640 and sweep. He’ll put the dishes away (it’s my chore) to give me a break. He’ll take the kids out to give me a quiet house so I can write. He’s patient with me when I’m irritable. He’s kind to me when I’m not kind to myself. And so.much.more.

He’s showing me love in action.

I think it’s normal to be selfish and want someone to love you in action but not giving too much thought to how¬†you can love¬†them in action. At least, it can be normal for me. Sadly. (I’m trying to change, I promise!)

Christ is the perfect example–way better than my husband (don’t worry, the hubs would cross-1149878_640agree). He died on the cross (Matthew 27:32-56). Went through unfathomable¬†agony. Then He defeated death and walked out of that grave (Luke 24:1-12). He showed Himself to people for 40 days (Acts 1:3) before He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:6-11) where He sits at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19), waiting for the day when we each face God. Jesus will either intercede and say, “I knew him/her, and s/he knew Me,” or He’ll say, “I never knew him/her” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Talk about action! Talk about love. Unimaginable love. Each day in our marriages, we need to lay down our lives. Maybe give up that five minutes of extra sleep socoffee-983955_640 you can get up and make a cup of coffee for your spouse. Or do something you find yucky to relax your spouse: rub their feet. (Uugghh…I shudder.) The list can go on and on.

So spend some time today thinking on how you can show love better to those around you, whether you’re married or not. And share your ideas in the comments, because I. Need. Help. ūüôā

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Forever Friday: Submission (Don’t be afraid!)

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67a2ba26408228ee07e597e14c1836d0Submission. Oh, that nasty, hard-to-swallow word. But…

“I do not think it means what you think it means.”
~Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

I’ve been thinking on this subject for a while now, as it’s a topic that keeps popping up online and among my friends. But I’m not nearly as eloquent (or, since she would smack me for saying that, I’m not nearly as experienced and/or wise on this subject) as one of my dear friends, author Jennifer Slattery.

So today, I’m doing something a little different for¬†Forever Friday. I’m sending you all over to read Jennifer’s posts on her blog. Please. Go and read. Because seriously, submission isn’t the four-letter word we all think it is.

Read part one here.

Read part two here.

Read part three here.

Jennifer has published four novels, all focusing on marriages. Trust me when I say, she breakingfree_n1664109knows her stuff. Find her books on New Hope Publishers, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, and Amazon. Her latest is Breaking Free, and promises to be her best yet.

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers and devotions for Internet Café Devotions, the group blog, Faith-filled Friends, and her personal blog. She also does content editing for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’ Firefly imprint, and loves working with authors who are serious about pursuing their calling. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte.

 

 

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Forever Friday: A Verse to Focus On

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I’ve been reading the book of Psalms since August. Yes. August. I started out reading it because I could feel anxiety pressing in on me. There was nothing wrong in my life, no stress, worries outside the norm, or anything like that. Just plain, old anxiety slinking its way through the door of my heart.

So I prayed.

And I searched what might help me the most.

The Psalms were the answer.

bible-1031288_1920The moment I prayed and started reading Psalm 1, I could feel the battle within me. I felt that anxiety fighting back, fighting a losing battle. God’s Word, you guys. It’s Peace. It’s Love. It’s Truth. And it’s deadly to all those negatives fighting to draw your attention away from Him.

So, what does this have to do with¬†Forever Friday? Well…not much. Ha!! But it does.

Anxiety, while it doesn’t threaten my marriage, does take my focus. I hide it from my family when I feel it because¬†I’m¬†embarrassed that¬†I don’t have a reason for it. It just…happens. So when it does, it’s all I can think about.

(Though come to think about it, it could be hormones…I¬†am getting to “that” age.)

And that isn’t fair. Not just to my family, but to me. And not just to me, but to the Lord. Because it takes my focus off Him.

Enter the Psalms.

They refocus me, give me hope, peace. They give me joy. I think more on the Lord. I speak with Him more. I’m more relaxed and less irritable.

When my husband does notice I’m more irritable, or he knows when I might be feelingholding-hands-1149411_1920 anxious over something, he’ll gently rub my back. He won’t make me talk, he won’t belittle me. He’s steadfast. He’s loving. He’s faithful.

And that’s what marriage is: steadfast love, faithful. When those things are present in marriage, righteousness and peace kiss. And those aren’t my words; they’re God’s.

“Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Psalm 85:10, English Standard Version).

My husband has his faults. I have my faults. (Lots of them.) (More than lots of them.) We hurt one another, anger one another, and irritate one another (hello snoring). But we choose each day to love one another. He makes sure he doesn’t leave for work without a kiss. When we go to bed, we make sure we’re not angry with each other. He unloads the dishwasher for me. (Hey, that’s a huge act of love in my books!) I encourage him to find friends and spend time with them. (I’m listening to him, our oldest son, and a friend play a game in the dining room as I write this, and it’s beautiful to my ears to hear their laughter and chatter.)

There’s only one way we can both choose to love a steadfast love and remain faithful, and that’s through Christ. Through His love, sacrifice, and presence in our lives.¬†It doesn’t mean we won’t have our rough patches, arguments, or dirty q-tips laying around, but it does mean we have a God who will give us the strength to forgive and move on, remaining steadfast in our love, faithful to our vows, and who will fill us with His righteousness and peace.

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How do you ensure your marriage stays steadfast, faithful, and peaceful? Please do share ideas, tips, and your thoughts. I¬†always need to learn, as I bet a lot of you feel. ūüôā

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Forever Friday: 1 Corinthians 13

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Last week, I started a new feature called¬†Wedding Wednesday (see my first post here). However, we all know that while weddings are super stressful fun, it’s the marriage that truly counts.

I’m by no means a marriage expert, so this in no way, shape, or…anything…should be considered advice. It’s more of a “let’s learn together” feature.

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Every time I think of marriage, I hear this in my head from The Princess Bride:

The Impressive Clergyman: Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.

I. love. that. movie. But I digress.

“Tweasure your wuv.” (Just in case you need help translating, that’d be “treasure your love.”)

What does it mean to treasure something? Dictionary.com defines the verb treasure as “to retain carefully or keep in store, as in the mind;¬†to regard or treat as precious; cherish.”

holding-hands-1149411_640Society has changed the way a lot of people thing about marriage. You’re not happy? Divorce. You’re interested in someone else? Divorce. You’ve grown apart? Divorce. All these boil down to one thing: you don’t feel in love with your spouse anymore. (A quick note here: I¬†do believe there are circumstances in which divorce is the best thing to do, such as abuse, infidelity, etc. ¬†Here are some verses you can look up.) What society forgets, though, is that love isn’t a feeling. Feelings can lie to us. Love is, however, a¬†choice.

We can choose, on a daily basis–sometimes a minute-by-minute basis if it’s that hard–to truly love someone. But how do we do that?

We’ve likely all heard 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter of the Bible that describes tru wuv…a-hem,¬†true love.¬†The nitty-gritty description is verses 4 through 7. But let’s break it down.¬†Love:

Where you see the words underlined, those are links to Dictionary.com so you can read the definitions (make sure you read the “adjective” or “verb” definition for that word!). Hey, sometimes you gotta do your own research to really learn. ūüėČ

The list seems overwhelming. But Jesus is all these things…and more. And He created old-people-545232_640marriage, so I’m confident (I¬†believe) that He has given us the capacity to achieve this list in our marriages.

And for you singles out there, use this passage as a measure for anyone you’re dating! Replace “love” with their name. If they don’t fill these things (or at least most of them since we’re all a work in progress), consider ending that relationship. Not because they aren’t worth it, but because¬†you are worth it.

Until next time.