Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: Love is unconditional



A month after my husband returns home from his deployment we will celebrate 24 years of marriage. Twenty-four years ago we said the traditional wedding vows to one another: “I promise to love you, comfort you, honor and keep you for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health and forsaking all others, be faithful only to you so long as we both shall live.”

In Dare 10 of The Love Dare book the writers say, “The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional.” The Bible refers to an unconditional love by using the Greek word agape.

Agape love is ‘sickness and health’ love, ‘for richer or poorer’ love, ‘for better or worse’ love. It is the only kind of love that is lasting, unchanging, true love.” (pg. 47)

Agape love is God’s kind of love.

We did not know God on our wedding day or for the next 20 years of our marriage. I did not love my husband with an unconditional, agape love. Instead of an unchanging love no matter the circumstances, my love swayed based on how I felt. When hard times came our way my feelings toward my husband changed. Twice I told him I no longer loved him and left seeking better.

I've felt shame from the decision I made to leave my husband and the mistakes I made which led up to it. Leaving meant I had failed to honor the commitment to love him no matter the circumstances. Even though we were both guilty of providing reasons for the other to want out, I will only speak to the shame in my own heart for how deeply I hurt him.

But God (my favorite two words in the Bible) is a God who forgives all our sins.

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” - 1 John 4:10

While I speak of God’s forgiveness, I found my way back into my husband’s arms before we accepted Christ as our Savior.  We were together again and attempting to get by on our own strength; a strength we did not have. Our love for one another still tossed back and forth from the storms that came our way.

How could we love one another with God’s kind of love if we hadn't placed our trust in Him? To love one another with an unconditional, agape love, God needs to be the foundation of our lives and not each other.

Thankfully, someone took the time to share the words said by the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-5 with me and led me to the hope found in Him. “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:5). Those words began the journey of a relationship with Christ. It was a different person and words for my husband but by God’s grace the journey began for both of us.

Until we accepted His forgiveness, I do not think either of us realized how deep our need had become. Even more than forgiveness, we longed for an unconditional love . . . a love we were unable to give until we had received for ourselves. Unlike the expectation we placed on one another, we did not need to prove ourselves worthy of God’s love. “He doesn't love us because we are lovable, but because He is so loving.” (pg. 47)

God chooses to freely give His love to us. Love is a choice. And the choice begins by allowing God into our hearts so His love can grow in us. An unconditional love does not come from within. An unconditional love, an agape love, comes from God.

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” - 1 John 4:7-8

I left my husband seeking love elsewhere when all along the love I wanted could only be found through faith and trust in the One who is love. Because of Him, I am free from the shame of past mistakes and have been made new.  I will therefore speak of His goodness and what He has done for me and my marriage all the days of my life with the hope of leading others to Him. For it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him.

I choose God.
I choose Love.

And I will pray for God to help me love my husband with an unconditional, agape love so my marriage is a reflection of His perfect love.


Dare #1: Love is patient
Dare #2: Love is kind
Dare #5: Love is not rude

Next week: Love cherishes

49 comments :

  1. Oh what a wonderful story of receiving Jesus in your hearts and agape love Beth! What a sweet, sweet blessing that you and your husband are finally on the path that God had planned for you in the beginning. His amazing love, grace, and forgiveness have made your hearts shine bright in your love for each other! ♥

    Blessings and hugs sweet friend! ♥
    Denise

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    1. Thank you, sweet friend. Such grace . . . such amazing grace! <3

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  2. Yeah, sickness is a great invitation ... it's then that the rubber meets the road, that we find what kind of stuff a relationship is made of. It's that season where one spouse can truly, finally rise to the occasion ... and both finally realize how deep the love is that's been there all along.

    And weren't you a gorgeous bride ... still are, too!
    ;-}

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    1. Smiling big, Linda, because I'm know we came to that point of knowing how deep our love is for one another. <3 Thanks, friend. xoxo

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  3. So grateful that God drew you to Him and led you back to one another! What a gracious and loving Father we serve. Keep up the great work in your love dare, friend!

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    1. Thank you for following along, Holly. It really means a lot to me. xoxo

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  4. It is amazing how God can make "all things new" ! Grateful He restored both you & Scott to each and to Him! You were a beautiful bride! Much love to you!

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    1. It is amazing and oh so beautiful! Thanks for your kind words, Joanne. Much love. xoxo

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  5. Beth, this is beautiful. Again, we have similar life stories! Thank you for being real with your readers and sharing even the not-so-pleasant times in your life. So encouraging! I praise God He drew you with His unconditional love! It transforms our lives! Much love to you today!

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    1. Julie, I hope one day we have the opportunity to share our stories in person. Thank you for your encouragement. Much love. xoxo

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  6. What an incredible gift to have your marriage and love transformed! You are so right...God is the only One who can satisfy our need to be unconditionally loved. And when we come to Him, accepting His great gift, He will show us how to share His love with others. Loving God enables us to truly love others...and I'm so glad!

    Blessings & Love, Joan

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    1. I am forever grateful for how He transforms and that He is now the center and foundation of our marriage. Thank you for all your love and encouragement, Joan. You are a blessing to me. Much love. xoxo

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  7. Beth, been enjoying your Love Dare journey.

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  8. Yes! Unconditional love is so important in marriage! Thank you for sharing. <3

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  9. But God is one of my favorite phrases, too, Beth. Your words touched my heart today. I am praying for your husband's safe return and for the beautiful celebration you will share, made so much sweeter just by your understanding of the agape love that God brings. I need to remember that, too. I wish struggle wasn't so much a part of our fleshly journey, but w/o it we don't appreciate the beautiful grace we receive from Him and are able to give to one another. You bless me!
    Hugs,
    Dawn

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and your prayers, Dawn. And I so appreciated what you said about wishing struggle wasn't part of our journey but without it we wouldn't appreciate His beautiful grace. Such truth. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

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  10. What a beautiful testimony to God's work in your life!

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  11. Simply beautiful. Your testimony shows our daddy God's amazing love for us his children!!! You bless me big!!!
    xoxoxo
    Stacey

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    1. It was so wonderful to see you link up again, Stacey. Thank you for your kind words.
      xoxo

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  12. Beth, And you will do it. It's a choice to give unconditional Agape love every day and seeing your spouse as Christ sees him, not through our "clouded" eyes. These were valuable words spoken to me at a most important time in my life. Love Love Love the program Two Becoming One for couples. Worth it's weight in gold and probably a very good reintegration to building intimacy. Thank you for the link up. Enjoying it.

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    1. I will be sure to check out that program, Kim. Thank you for sharing and for your kind words. Blessings. xoxo

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  13. You are a sweet encouragement.

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  14. "But God..." Praising Him this day for His beautiful love and for the One Who gave His all for us. Your post speaks to me deeply and I thank you for writing the words God gives to you through these times.
    I hold your husband in prayer as I do you also.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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    1. Two wonderful words always followed by good news! Joining you in praising Him, Linda.
      Thank you for your prayers.
      Blessings. xoxo

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  15. I am loving being along for the ride on this journey you're on with the Love Dare! Precious story! Thank you for sharing with us. Love you so. Heart Hugs, Shelly <3

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    1. Thanks for coming along, sweet friend. Love you. xoxo

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  16. I'm so glad that friend led you to the hope found in Jesus. My post led me to those same words found in Romans 5:5 too. ;-) Such a beautiful verse. Thank you for, once again, sharing your story so authentically. There is much hope found in your words!

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    1. I am looking forward to reading your post, Abby. Thank you for your kinds words. Blessings xoxo

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  17. What a lovely testimony - to you and your husband's love, and to the faithfulness of God. Congratulations (early) on your 24 years. So special.

    Agape love is impossible without God. And pretty difficult with Him!! May His Spirit continue to infuse us with the power to love like He did.

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. Thank you, Sharon. I will surely be ready to celebrate with him when he returns home. Praying for His Spirit to continue to infuse us and overflow. Blessings. xoxo

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  18. You have an amazing story Beth, and I love how you both learned that until you found God's unconditional love your own marriage would not have the foundation needed. I have popped in off and on to catch your Love Dare journey and I am always glad when I do. Today I also linked up for Three Word Wednesday which has been on my list to do since summer started. Thank you for the link up and the honest story of your marriage. Blessings, Mary!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Mary. I am so glad you joined us for Three Word Wednesday. I hope you join us again. :) Blessings.

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  19. Beth, I was so moved by your words of past failings and mistakes in your marriage and how God brought you back together, even before knowing Him. But God....those two words change lives, marriages, futures, and generations!!!! I am so glad God revealed Himself to you and I pray the Lord will change your family for the good for generations to come!!!!!

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    1. Thank you, friend. Those two words give me goosebumps. Thanks for your love and encouragement, Lori. It is so appreciated. Blessings. xoxo

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  20. I, too, am so very grateful for the words, "But God." We so often just can't seem to get out of our own way, and God keeps turning things on their head and making everything beautiful in its time. Your marriage is such a testimony to this amazing grace. Love you, friend.

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    1. He makes everything beautiful in its time. Such truth. I was delighted to have you join us again for the linkup, Beth. Love you. xoxo

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  21. This is a great reminder. So often my husband and I love one another based on the other's performance or our circumstances. It's a hard habit to break. Our default seems to be to withdraw. I feel the Holy Spirit leading me to choose to love my husband. It doesn't come easy. Thanks for sharing your story. I am enjoying following your journey on the Love Dare.

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    1. Love isn't easy but when we choose love . . . wow! And I know choosing love will take on a new challenge when my husband returns home but I hope the time I has spent in The Love Dare book will continue to impact how I love my husband when we are together again. Thanks for sharing, Kimberly.

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  22. What a story of redemption your marriage is! So thankful for that and how you boldly, sweetly share it.

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    1. Thank you, Kristin. I appreciate you!!

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  23. God is so good. I love that you bare witness to His goodness here on your blog. And I am so thankful for what He's doing in your life :)

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    1. He is SO good. Thank you for your kind words, June. Love you. xoxo

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Much love to you.