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Monday, October 26, 2015

The closer your spouse moves to your love, the further they move from their fear.

I think there is a very good reason that "Do not fear" is the most frequent directive God gives us in his Word. The Gospels mention fear twice as often as they mention sin.

The reason for this focus on fear is because of what it does to us and to our relationships. Fortunately, the Bible gives us clear antidote for fear: love.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18 (NIV)
Fear Fills a Love Void

It's important to remember that the way love is expressed is typically different for men and women, and if you aren't expressing love in the way your spouse needs it expressed, then there is a love void.  For many men, things like respect, being sexually desired and being trusted top their love list.  Many wives, on the other hand, want emotional intimacy, time and attention, and to feel cared for in order to feel loved.

It takes determined effort to love intentionally in the way your spouse most feels loved, because our default is to love in the way we want love expressed to us. Thus you may think you are communicating love, but your love is not being received by your spouse.

Where there is an absence of love expressed in a marriage relationship, fear rushes in to fill the void. 

What kinds of fear and insecurities fill a love void?
  • He doesn't love me any more
  • She isn't attracted to me
  • I'm not good enough
  • He doesn't think I'm worth his time
  • She doesn't respect me
  • He/she wouldn't still choose me
Perfect Love?

It's interesting to me that the Scripture above says that "perfect" love casts out fear.

What is perfect love? It's the unconditional, overwhelming and powerful God-kind-of-love that pursues us relentlessly, even in our brokenness and weakness, even when we reject Him. In the face of that kind of love, fear can't last. It just can't.

But my love is not so perfect. I can be selfish. I can put conditions on my love. I can be forgetful and thoughtless.

Still, in all my imperfection, I realize that the closer I come to giving my wife the kind of love God gives me, expressed in the ways that are meaningful to her, the more fear will be forced out of her thinking. The closer I get to loving her the way she needs, the further she will move away from fear.

Why does it take "perfect love" to cast out fear? Because fear is a stronghold. And once we start to agree with the lie that created the fear in the first place, it can be hard for us to discern the truth. Fear creates filters that keep us agreeing with the lies that created the fear in the first place.

If I became convinced that my wife did not respect me, I see her actions through the lens of disrespect. So if she made an effort to show me respect, I would likely either miss it altogether or disregard it under the assumption that she was simply faking it.

Where fear has gained a foothold, it takes strong and consistent expressions of love to overcome it. So if you've renewed your commitment to love your spouse well, have a little patience as the fear begins to dissolve. It might take time and persistence.

Here's another truth about love and fear. Where love is not persistent, even relentless, fear will sneak back in. It doesn't take a lot of feeling unloved before we begin to agree with the lies that held us in fear to begin with.

You're Not on Your Own

You may think I'm asking too much of you, to love your spouse well, consistently and fervently. The good news is that it's not all up to you. We have an amazing and limitless love source in Jesus. That's not just a trite saying. It's truth!

But how do you tap into this Love source in a way that can benefit your marriage? With out a doubt, the best way is to experience for yourself the incredible and unstoppable love Jesus has directed toward you and to fully embrace it.

Soak up the love of God for you until it overwhelms you and comes spilling out of you. Experience for yourself what it means to be fully known and yet completely loved. Experience the joy and peace of secure love.

The Place of Secure Love

I call love and grace the two bookends of marriage. They are what hold the whole thing together. Grace and love work in concert to keep your marriage from toppling over.

Grace says, "I will choose to believe in your love for me, even when it is not evident, even when your actions or words seem to run counter to that belief." Grace also says, "I will love you no matter what, assuming the best, loving you as if you are already loving me as well as I know you want to."

Grace is not always an easy choice. In fact it can be really hard. But grace, in the form of the absolute belief in the love of your spouse, brings you to the place of secure love, where fear cannot break in.
The primary way our heart feels secure is when we know we are loved. No doubts, no misgivings, no shadowlands where second-guessing and fear play games with our confidence. Among other things, Christ died for us so we can know once and for all that we are completely, ultimately, and profoundly loved.
Grace Filled Marriage, p. 63
Just imagine for a minute what your marriage would be like if your husband or wife never, ever doubted that you deeply loved him or her! What if you never doubted that you were loved just as deeply? How delightful would it be to do everything out of the security of the love you share instead of out of trying to earn it or perform for it.

Let me suggest you start here, by listening to this video, This Love, by Housefires. Close your eyes and let the love they sing about wash over you. Let it strike your heart. And when it is finished, pray and ask God to stir the same kind of love in your for your spouse.


AlohaHarleySMG said...

Excellent! The blog post and the song post as well. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy your perspectives Scott, that's why it takes me so long to get to your posts. God always grows me from them ... I don't like to scan your work but rather to really dig into it and that takes time!

"How delightful would it be to do everything out of the security of the love you share instead of out of trying to earn it or perform for it." There is another huge benefit to this. A secure spouse is a relaxed spouse ... much easier for God to get through to them!

Scott said...

Aloha - thanks for reading and the feedback.

Robyn (uwm) - That is a great thought about security being fertile ground for hearing from and being changed by God. Brilliant addition.

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