Those are our hands. My hand and my husband's hand. We were in bed and he was sound asleep, otherwise I'm sure he would've made a comment about me taking a picture of our hands. But the picture of this moment meant something to me. It was gentle, it was soft and it was comfortable. There was no awkward posing or a photographer saying, "now, gently grab ahold of his hand and make it look peaceful." It was natural. It was us. It's our routine. I'm not much of a cuddler, but I like to hold his hand as I fall asleep.
Have you seen that really cute internet photo with the fun fact about otters? If not, here it is...if you have seen it, well, here it is again:
I mean, seriously, is that not the cutest thing you've ever seen or heard? They hold hands so they don't drift apart. The one on the left is definitely me: shorter body, little bit round, chin looks like it's obstructing the airway; while the one on the right is representative of my husband: longer, leaner and looks chill, like "I got your hand, honey, you can stretch out and relax."
But joking aside, how precious is this fact? These cute little critters care for each other so much, they don't want to face the risk of losing one another.
If you're a parent, you can understand this. If you don't have children, you were once a child and can still understand this. Moms force their children to hold their hands as they walk across the street. Moms make their children hold onto the shopping cart in the store as they walk up and down aisles. Moms keep a close eye and quick hand nearby while their children play at the park. Why? Because they don't want their children to drift, run away or get lost.
Do you protect your husband like that? Do you stay close to him to make sure he doesn't drift? Or do you often let go of his hand? Do you sometimes think or feel that this life, this marriage, or this whole "love your husband with a gentle and quiet spirit" thing is impossible? I have. Many times. And you know what happens when I get stuck in that mindset? I'm letting go of his hand. I'm allowing him to drift. I'm allowing him to get (or stay) lost.
Regardless of whether or not your husband is a believer, he is your husband. Regardless of whether or not you like him right now, he is your husband. And guess what, you're called to love him.
The bible is God's love story for each of us. He pours out promises and love to each of us...even on our bad behavior days. Even on the days when we push Him away, lose faith in His promises and struggle with trusting His plan, He continues to love. And just to make things clear: we don't deserve His love, even on our best days. I am so grateful for His love. I am so grateful to know that despite mistakes, my bad choices, and my daily shortcomings, I can rely on His love. His hand is always reaching out for mine, I just have to grab for it and let Him lead...because He won't let me drift.
Do we do that for our husbands? We're supposed to...
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35
Thanks for putting it out there, Jesus. I mean, there's really no need for interpretation, right? He doesn't say, "love one another, unless he really makes you mad, then you don't have to." He doesn't say, "love one another, as I have loved you. Except the unconditional part, you don't have to do that." I wish he would've said that, but He didn't. In fact, his words of choice included command and must. Those are not words of polite suggestion.
We are called to love like Jesus did. Now, I don't know about you, but I could cry with gratitude for the love God has shown to me because I know I am not deserving of it. And yet, He does. That love that moves my heart is the love he says I must share with others. And He doesn't limit the deserving group of receivers to those who treat us well or those who say only nice things to us. Why? Because if He did, then you and I wouldn't be recipients of His love, either.
We are a very fortunate group of women; we understand the gift of God's love that is graced upon us each day. We recognize His love and we know that there is no greater gift than His grace. But our husband's don't know that, yet. They rely on us to show them God's love. They need us to show them God's grace.
Imagine taking your husband gently by the hand, as you skip through grassy fields on a beautiful day with sunshine pouring onto the earth; the sun is casting a gorgeous glow on your skin and your every step is as though you're skipping on clouds...you're leading him towards God's love. You're smiling with joy and his curious eyes are watching you...he's wondering why you're so light on your feet, why your smile is effortless and why your eyes are shining. He's allowing you to lead him through these grassy fields because he knows you are leading him somewhere beautiful.
Suddenly you step on a rock, it's painful and you have to stop. You're crying because it hurts and you don't want to keep going. You let go of his hand. And because he doesn't know where he's going, he has to stop. You tell him to keep going, but he can't. He's lost and doesn't know how to get there.
Do you get up, grab a hold of his hand and continue to gently lead him? Or do you stop, focus on the pain, and allow him to wander?
Our husbands can't see God without us. We are the visual of God's love that our husbands look towards, even if they don't realize what they're looking at. Our love for them, the kind of love that God calls us to give, is evidence of God's love. Jesus said so! "By this all men will know that you are my disciples..." The unconditional love and grace that we show our husbands stands out to them, they know that when we are able to love them at their worst it's because there is something different about us. They know it's because God's love is in us.
Loving your husband in the manner that God calls you to love is equivalent to holding his hand, gently guiding him, and keeping him from drifting. The more you show him love, the more you are showing him the true God.
But it's impossible
I get it. It seems absolutely hopeless. If you're like me, there are days when it seems impossible to like my husband, let alone love him (there are days when I know my husband feels the same towards me).
I've been there: "it's impossible. I can't do it. I don't have it in me to love like that."
The good news:
"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." - Matthew 17:20
There's a couple things I love about this: the first being, the size comparison. I love the way Jesus takes the smallest seed to represent our faith and the largest, immovable object to represent our obstacle. And yet He tells us that with that small seed we can move a mountain! The other thing I love about this is the confidence of the promise He delivers to us: "nothing will be impossible for you." So guess what. Those couple words we tell ourselves ("it's impossible") are simply not true. It's not impossible. NOTHING is impossible. As long as we have faith the size of a mustard seed. Have you ever seen a mustard seed?
Yeah, it's so itty bitty. That. That is what Jesus says can moves the largest of large. All we need is that. I'm sure we can muster up some faith of that size.
So, is it impossible? No. Will it be hard? Yes. Will it take time? Yes. Can it be done? Yes.
God only asks us to love our husbands in the same way He loves us. He doesn't ask us to change their hearts, that's His job. He only asks us to love them and lead them with a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4).
You don't need to grab your husband's hand with the strength of a gorilla's grip and drag him towards God.
You need only be an otter. Hold his hand so he doesn't drift. Keep him close to God's love by keeping him close to you.
Love one an'otter...