The Power of Agape Love In Marriage
Jennifer SlatteryAuthor and speaker Jennifer Slattery has addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation and her love for seeing others embrace freedom in Christ is evident in each of her six contemporary novels and on her devotional blog, JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As Founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit with Jennifer on Facebook at JenSlatte.
- 2018 Jan 16
He was late, again. No phone call. No “I’m sorry.” Nothing but me pacing the kitchen, glancing from the phone to the overcooked dinner crackling on the stove. At this point, I’d do better to throw it out, grab our daughter and head to a restaurant for a nice relaxing meal, just the two of us.
Just the two of us.
And now we get to the root of the issue, because it’s never just about burned dinners and unmade phone calls. Rather, it’s the dots we connect between each event, the interpretations we make of every statement and one line email. To my young, tired, and insecure mind, all of the inconsiderateness spoke a convincing and heartbreaking story—he doesn’t love you.
My response? To fret and fume and work myself into the teary-eyed mess that met him at the door with harsh words and accusations.
I effectively pushed my tired and defeated husband further away, adding crack after crack to his breaking heart. And yes, his heart was breaking, as much as mine was: I was just too caught up in my own emotional tsunami to notice. I was convinced he was the problem, and so, rather than turning to God for wisdom, rather than searching my heart for my part, I ranted. And complained. And begged God to change him, to make him into everything Ineeded.
This went on for some time, each of us erecting stronger walls to hide behind, filtering every conversation through a mountain of hurt and distrust, while our marriage continued to disintegrate. Until one day, one sentence, spoken by a courageous Bible study leader and friend, sliced through my sense of entitlement.
It’d been a rough day, though not one I’d call atypical for a mom of a little one. By this point, I had developed a me-against-my-husband mentality as I, daily, fought to get my needs met. I was frustrated, hurt, and oh-so-lonely. Bible study—sitting around a table talking with other women, all of us child-free for a blessed two hours—had also become about me. A place and time to fill my deep emotional well.
I joined my friends already present and launched straight into my woes. I don’t remember what I said, but I know it wasn’t good. It wasn’t lovely or pure or praiseworthy or worthy of respect. (Phil. 4:8-9) Somewhere in my rant, I must have used the phrase, “I deserve …”
Our leader, a strong and direct policeman’s wife, folded her arms on the table and leaned forward, her eyes locking on to mine. “You deserve death.”
I blinked as her words took hold, and in that moment, my every thought centered on grace—the grace I had received when Jesus Christ willingly gave His life for me.
Yes, I deserved death, and I’d been given life. Somehow, that reminder changed everything. It took the sting out of my anger and softened my heart, sparking a desire, ever so tiny, to reveal the love that had been lavished upon me.
Around this time, I started reading a book called The Way of Agape. In it, the author encouraged us to take our hurts to God and ask Him to love our spouses through us. I began to do just that, keeping a direct venting line open between God and myself. My prayers were a mess, but my heart grew more and more at peace. More importantly, our marriage began to heal as God began to love my husband through me. And as He did, a beautiful thing happened—God began to love me through my husband as well.
It’s been about 15 years since I made that choice—the choice to die to myself so that God could live more consistently through me. Fifteen years of vacations and anniversaries, of family dinners and romantic date nights. And if I had it to do again, there’s only one thing I’d change, and that’s giving in to God’s agape way of love sooner.
In what ways has venting to God (rather than others) helped you move past a hurt and into healing? Do you have any examples you can share? Or maybe you’re in a tough marriage now. In what ways does prayer help you stay emotionally strong? What are some other ways you stay close to God during relationally tough times?
Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other!
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