Thursday, December 1, 2011

Unconditional Love

My cousin Brian has been going through a tough time lately.  After being married for only one year, he and his wife decided to take some time a part.  It has now been two months and he has only received a few text messages from his wife over the past two weeks.  He has not seen her, touched her, or held her all this time, and she is his wife.  With this kind of treatment most people would tell Brian to give up, throw in the towel, and call it quits.

Thankfully, my cousin serves a God greater than himself, and because of his love for Christ he has chosen to love his wife.  Ephesians 5:21 says, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."  This is how we know it is biblical to love regardless of what we receive in return.

In Dr. Emerson Eggerich's book, Love and Respect, he uses the acronym COUPLE to explain to men how to love their wives unconditionally. The best way for a man to love his wife is through Closeness, Openness, Understanding, Peacemaking, Loyalty, and Esteem.  For the full synopsis of each word you will have to read the book and apply it to your own life.

One of the practical application steps for husbands is to write their wives love notes.  Brian chose to do this just the other day.  I have chosen to share his note with you all as an example of loving selflessly.  Keep in mind she hasn't given him the time of day for the past two weeks.

"...I want you to know that I'm sorry for the way I have been for our first year of marriage and even before that. I was just plugging through life with no direction or motivation. Maybe I thought well I'm married now that's all I need, no reason to try and improve anything. I hope that you can forgive me for being so disconnected to you and for being so lazy. Regardless of whether you decide to give our love another chance or not please forgive my actions. Even if you feel there is nothing to forgive, I assure you there is. I cannot make you love me, nor would I want to try to put you through that. But I do offer you my love, it has always been there even though my actions didn't always show it. While I also have some doubt about whether we can make this work or not, I am still hanging on to a tiny glimmer of hope that you will still want to try. Don't you think we owe it to ourselves to at least try? This excerpt was quite encouraging to me. I feel like I have changed quite a bit the last couple of months. I am still not even close to where I want to be, but definitely headed in the right direction. I know you mentioned something similar in your letter to me. I see no reason he cannot head in these directions together, no reason we cannot shine our brightest together. I am humbled today for what I have been through recently. I am thankful for your actions, regardless of the final outcome, because they have awoken me from a great slumber and in turn began to make me a better man. I am excited to see you Thursday. I have no expectations of anything but am remaining hopeful. Just know that I am still here waiting to love you, if you are ready, if you are willing."

This is an example of reflecting Christ's love for us.  We did nothing in the first place to receive it, yet no person in their right mind can run from this much love and commitment.  Have you ever realized just how much Christ loves you, despite your decision to run from him?  Look at this excerpt from Nehemiah chapter 9.  In just three short verses God's unconditional love for us is made abundantly clear.

Nehemiah 9:29-31
"You warned them to return to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. 
 they sinned against your ordinances, by which man will live if he obeys them. 
 Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. 
 For many years you were patient with them. 
 By your spirit you admonished them through your prophets. 
 Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples. 
 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, 
for you are a gracious and merciful God."