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August 5th, 2004 around 9 PM
I am curled up on the cold, hard floor in the corner of a hospital room. And I am crying.
The thing is, I don’t cry. I am like Clint Eastwood in those old spaghetti westerns. I never flinch, never panic, and I always have a plan. But not today. Instead, I am sobbing and hoping that no one sees me.
It all started a couple of months after our wedding day. I had married the woman of my dreams. We loved each other madly, kissed passionately, and did everything together. When she told me I was in complete shock. It was late at night and I went outside, in the dark, to water the bushes I had planted a couple of weeks before. I was gone awhile before I was able to come back in and deal with the news.
From that moment on, our lives changed forever. We spent money that we didn’t have preparing for a baby- our baby to come. Then the most incredible thing happened one night on the way home from church. Amber felt the baby move! It made everything different. Our excitement hit a fever pitch!
Soon that all changed early one morning when she woke in intense pain. After a frantic drive to the hospital, we found out she was in labor, but it was way too early. I held her hand for hours until she finally had the baby. He was a perfect little boy, but he was lifeless.
In the days, weeks, months, and years that followed we dealt with the pain, grief, and sorrow that accompany that kind of loss. It still hurts when I remember the cruel words of well-intentioned friends. It is the kind of loss that people just don’t know how to respond to. Somehow we made it through but not without scars and moments of complete frustration. We found out that life and love is messy. And it’s the mess that has defined our relationship over the years.
The truth about love is that it is messy. So why is love so messy?
Table of Contents
Love is Messy Because
- It Is Risky
- It Is Free
- It Is Prone to Fail
And That’s OK Because
- It Is Amazing
- It is Relentless
- It Is Dysfunctional
Love is Messy Because
It Is Risky
You can find the risk of love embedded in the Gospel story. Jesus loves you so much that he would give His life for you knowing that you might reject His offer of salvation. How many souls even say yes to Jesus only to someday turn their back on Him? Loving me is a risk that Jesus took to save me. Love is messy because it is risky.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.-Romans 5:6-8
Security is an Illusion
We all work hard to build a sense of security in love. You share a bank account. You buy a house together. You even share your hopes and dreams with each other. But in reality, everything could change in a moment of time. It would just take one life event, or one spouse giving up on the relationship.
You take for granted that your spouse will always be there. When dating, you did everything you could to keep them, but now, armed with a sense of security, you let down your guard and give in to the idea that your spouse will always be there. The Bible makes it clear that things are not so secure in this life.
Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.-Proverbs 27:1
Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.-James 4:13-14
Security in love is an illusion, it’s like a house of cards, ready to collapse at any moment. You must live and accept the fact that love is a risk. It’s a risk worth taking but a risk none the less. Don’t take your love and marriage for granted.
Keep giving your best to your relationship
Remember what it was like before you “won” your spouse? You probably always tried to look your best. You gave them gifts and compliments. Maybe you even did things that you normally would not- because you wanted to win their affection.
I bought expensive hair products for myself, even though my hair is always cut short and I pay little attention to it. I always tucked in my golfs shirts, even though I usually wear them rugby style. I wore perfectly ironed khaki pants even though I normally wear broken-in blue jeans. I even bought cards, flowers, and gifts for my girlfriend. Then, once we were married, I went rugby style and jeans again! After all, I had her now.
It is a mistake to stop giving your best to your relationship. You may not see how it is hurting at first, but someday you will look back and wonder what happened to the passion and love that you once had. It is the ultimate in selfishness to stop caring about the needs and wants of the person you love because you have them.
I have to look back at my relationship with Jesus. He just keeps giving me his best even though He “has” me now! And when I give him my best, it makes my walk with Him absolutely incredible.
You settle into the security of marriage and lose the effort of giving your best to your marriage relationship. That is when everything falls apart.
…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.John 10:10b
The Christian life is not just about the moment that you put your faith in Jesus, it’s about everything that happens after that. In the same way, your marriage is not just about the moment you said “I do”, but everything that happens after that.
Human love is fragile
The only love that is really secure is the love that Jesus has for us. It’s the one love you can bank on to last forever, even when you mess up. Notice the words of the Bible.
If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.II Timothy 2:13
Human love, however, is fallible. In fact, you can lose it without doing anything. By just doing nothing to work at your relationship, you fall out of love. So, you may think you are secure in your marriage, but that feeling of security could end up destroying what you have. I have said it before, but I think it is worth repeating. When love ends, sometimes people leave, other times they stay together but are miserable for a lifetime. That is not what God intends for you!
It Is Free
Love is messy because it is free. No one can force you to love someone. When I was dating my wife (we called it courtship). It basically means the same thing as dating, but our parents were very strict, so it just means strict dating! That’s OK because it kept us out of trouble.
At first, I had this fear that she would end up rejecting me. She was and is beautiful, sweet, kind, and outgoing. Meanwhile, I am plain, blunt, unapproachable, and shy. None of the things she is! It took me a while, but once I felt I could trust her, I choose to let go of all my fears and love her. Even though I still felt the risk. I took a chance and fell hopelessly in love!
Love is a choice
It’s that choice that makes love so intimate. You are choosing to love me.
This part of love mirrors the Gospel story. Jesus chose to love you and me. That’s what makes His grace so amazing!
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.I John 4:10
So love is a choice that you make each day. Not just when you were dating, but all throughout your married life.
“I didn’t fall in love with you. I walked into love with you, with my eyes wide open, choosing to take every step along the way. I do believe in fate and destiny, but I also believe we are only fated to do the things that we’d choose anyway. And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you”
― Kiersten White, The Chaos of Stars
Do you always make it easy for Jesus to love you? Sometimes the choice to love each other is harder than at other times. When you chose to love each other, your marriage becomes the canvas and you the artist that paints the picture of the mercy, grace, and forgiveness in the Gospel story.
Choosing to love is the key to staying in love. It is the secret to a happy marriage. It’s like you renew your vows every day when you wake up.
You Have a Freewill
Just like you can and should choose to love, you can choose not to. This is how love can be messy. What makes love so special is the same thing that makes it so vulnerable. One spouse in the marriage relationship can choose not to love. The truth is that you can’t force them to.
It’s important to understand that even if you find yourself in this situation that you can have a deeper understanding of the rejection that Jesus feels. You can experience Him in a way that you never could have before.
That fact that you can reject Jesus in your life is what makes that choice so special. It’s also what makes marriage so special. You have to understand that love is a choice that you both must make throughout the course of your marriage.
Also, don’t get complacent in your marriage, because that complacency can lead to the fall of your love. You have to keep working to make your love meaningful to you and your spouse throughout your life together.
It Is Prone to Fail
Love is susceptible to failure. You and your spouse are going to make mistakes. Mistakes that will make your marriage messy. It’s how you handle those mistakes that will make or break your marriage.
Failure Is Inevitable
When Jesus saves you, you are immediately in Christ and as saved a Jesus is. So you are immediately saved, but you have to wait on the redemption of your body.
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.Romans 8:23
So your soul is saved, but your body is not. We call it the flesh, but its the carnal, sinful, cursed body that we live in until we see Jesus. In other words, you are capable of doing anything you did before you knew Jesus after you know HIm.
We do a good job of painting it up. You can try to look pious and righteous, but the truth that we all know is that you are still just a sinner saved by His grace.
And as such you are prone to failure. You are going to make mistakes.
Understand that Your Spouse Is a Sinner
Don’t act surprised when your spouse makes a mistake. Remember that you make them too. I make mistakes and need God’s forgiveness all the time and so do you! Don’t take the consequences from your spouse, but understand that they are a sinner just like you.
Marriage is messy because we are all sinners.
And That’s OK
Even though love is messy, it’s OK that it is. Life and love just get messy sometimes. The truth is that all love in this life is messy. But that’s OK because it is…
It is OK that Love Is Messy Because It Is Amazing
The Mess of Love Makes the Gospel Amazing
As Christians, if we were always perfect and did the right thing, the story of redemption would make more sense. That God would send His Son to die for a bunch of worthy people. But we make a mess out of our lives and He offers redemption in spite of that.
The Gospel is so incredible that the angels are interested in it. That God would redeem the souls of men who are completely depraved and dead in sins. A love that is this amazing, changes your life.
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.I Peter 1:11-12
I am a sinner, but according to Ephesians chapters 1 and 2 through the power of the Gospel, I am…
|Saved||His Workmanship||Made Nigh|
|Reconciled||A Saint||A Holy Temple|
In the Gospel, Jesus takes life and love that is messy and makes something beautiful out of it. I remember the moment that I put my trust in HIm, I honestly didn’t even have a lot of that, but I gave it to Him. He changed my love. A love that is messy, He makes beautiful. Who am I but a sinner saved by His Grace?
This is what love is, messy but amazing! So the mess is really not as important as the love that you share with Jesus!
The Mess of Love Makes Your Marriage Amazing
The “mess” in your marriage is not as important as the love your share.
Everyone brings baggage into their marriage. You may not have realized you had it, or that it was a problem until you share your life with another person. Love makes you work through those things together. If God can work with you with all the problems that you have, surely you could work with your spouse and their problems. The thing is, you have baggage too.
Here are some examples of baggage you could bring into marriage:
- Abuse– According to the National Children’s Alliance, nearly 700,000 children are victims of abuse each year in the US. If you want to see those statics and more follow the link.
- Finances– Debt or past money problems. Maybe you struggle with controlling money. Those types of problems are amplified in marriage. Now your spending and debt are affecting your spouse and your relationship.
- Past Relationships– It’s the hurt that you don’t want to talk about. The failed love that you have experienced has an impact on your love now.
- Childhood– Because of the way you were raised or what you experienced as a child, you bring differing viewpoints and expectations into marriage. For instance, if your parents argued a lot maybe you think that is the way marriage should be. Your experience shapes your expectations.
But the mess in your relationship doesn’t matter as much as how you deal with it. Use the model of the Gospel story to break through the baggage and the mess in your love.
- Forgive Freely- The way Jesus forgives you! Let go of your spouse’s mistakes.
- Practice Patience- Isn’t Jesus patient with you? Be as patient with your spouse as you would want them to be with you.
- Crave Communication- Do you talk to Jesus about your problems? Talk to each other.
- Seek Support- Finding help is what the Gospel is really about. Find someone you can trust who can help you through your problems.
It Is OK that Love Is Messay Because It Is Relentless
The Mess in Your Marriage Doesn’t Have to Break it
Just because you are having problems in your marriage, doesn’t mean your love is over. In fact, it may mean that your love is going to turn in to something better. What makes the Gospel so meaningful, is Christ loving me in my brokenness.
The mess in your relationship is what makes your love meaningful. Working through those things is what it means to be a Christian in love.
You find real love and meaning in the process and not in the results.
Love Is Blind
When you first meet, love is so intoxicating that you actually don’t see the mess. Maybe that’s God’s way of letting you grow in your relationship before the blindness wears off. To be honest, when I first got married to my wife, we were too busy kissing each other’s faces off to realize we had problems in our relationship! Love is blind to the mess.
But sooner or later, you look around and notice the mess. This my proposal to you.
- Acknowledge that you have a mess.
- Make productive steps to fix the mess.
- Close your eyes and pretend the mess isn’t there.
Love Is lIke Housework
There is this story in the Bible about two sisters, Martha and Mary, who invited Jesus into their home. Martha was so busy with housework and serving that she became angry at Mary who was just spending time with Jesus. After expressing her concerns to Him about Mary not working, Jesus said that Mary had chosen the good part. Read the story here.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.Luke 10:41-42
So you can obsess over your housework and your chores. Or you can choose to focus on loving and spending time with your spouse instead. After all, there will always be housework, but the memories you make together can never be taken away from you. By closing your eyes to the mess, you can focus them on being in love with each other.
By closing your eyes to the “mess” in your marriage, you can focus on being in love instead. It’s like standing in the kitchen when there are dishes in the sink and the counter is a mess and holding each other instead of worrying about it. Yes, you will deal with the mess, but being in love and together is what is most important. And that is the Gospel model from Jesus!
It Is OK that Love Is Messy Because It Is Dysfunctional
I am going to be brutally honest, Amber and I have problems in our marriage. There are things both of us are working through together. But the thing is, every relationship is that way.
Love Is Like a Work in Progress
I like to refer to Ephesian 5:21-33 as the Bible Model for marriage. Your love relationship should be like the relationship between Christ and the Church. It is my goal for me as a husband to be like Christ in our marriage, and my wife’s goal is to be like the Church. But I am far from that model.
It is OK that your marriage is not perfect. The main thing is that you are working together towards the goal of being like Christ and the Church. It’s all about the journey and being together on that journey. The key is to focus on loving each other instead of focusing on the mess!
Be the Best Spouse You Can Be
At the end of the day, that is all you can do. With God’s help, you can be the best you can be in your relationship even though it may be dysfunctional. Even though your relationship may need some work, you can make it important to you.
The mess is Ok because it gives you the opportunity to clean it up together.
Love is Messy Because
- It Is Risky
- It Is Free
- It Is Prone to Fail
And That’s OK Because
- It Is Amazing
- It is Relentless
- It Is Dysfunctional