Six years ago, my wife Cori and I spent our honeymoon at Walt Disney World. It was the best time of my life. I still can’t decide if I love Walt Disney World so much because it really is the happiest place on earth, or because we honeymooned there.
Nevertheless, we began a tradition there; each year during the week of our wedding anniversary, we read through Solomon’s Song of Songs to remind ourselves of God’s vision for romantic love. It’s a lush and sensual song.
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is more delightful than wine,” and that’s just the first line.
The trouble is that I don’t often have the kind of romantic feelings we read about.
Why are relationships so complex? It is rather significant God created us in His image, allowing our earthly relational knowledge to help us relate to Him. And my relationship with my God does closely resemble my relationship with my wife. Sometimes we’re distant, sometimes intensely passionate. Sometimes I’m in love and enjoy just being in her presence. Sometimes I don’t want to be around her at all. Sometimes I serve her while my heart says, “Be selfish,” and my brain says, “Serve her, you clown!” Sometimes I feel close, but much of the time our emotional states don’t match. Mmm … complexity.
I certainly want to make the wife of my youth happy (umm … most of the time). Ephesians 5 tells me that my preference must yield to her needs and desires. Logic says I must do this daily. Being the logical type, I know this is the most important link in the action chain for me, but why don’t I feel like it? I really enjoy being in love so why can’t I cultivate that feeling?
Maybe I don’t have to. Now that I can reflect on the first six years of our marriage, I see the natural tension between my heart and brain evolving. Because I have strived to make the logical love drive my actions when I don’t feel loving, I have realized I really do love her deeply and truly care more about her desires than my own. And more and more I am able to ponder the things I really like about her. My wife’s thinking compliments mine; or could it be mine compliments hers (she plays 3rd base, I play 1st)? She cares deeply about my happiness and it shows. My wife is constant. She is the most interesting person I know and is committed to me completely. Almost daily, my mind’s jaw drops at the things she does just for me. I like her. I like her a lot. So even though it’s hard to cut off my natural selfishness, the more I practice the easier it gets. Some days I disappoint, but most days I do alright. She makes me want to succeed.
It’s the same with God. I don’t always feel close to Him. I consciously desire to grow closer and the times are great when I feel it, but I will never let go of the knowledge He holds me and all my efforts are worth zilch without His intervention. What He has done for me is so astounding I have no choice but to hand over all of life to Him, and He gives me the will to do that which I would not do otherwise.
I like being in love and the euphoria being in love generates. I thought I had those euphoric feelings during the first few years of our marriage, and then traded them for a more logical, less passionate love. Now I’m not so sure. I think in reality my feelings started off a bit selfish, and are becoming not less but more like those Solomon so elegantly described. When I do what I know is right, I recognize my heart, at its core, tells me “Love God, Love Cori, Love your sons. Give it all up for them.” I really feel like I love her and the passion grows on, from the inside out.