**I am honoured to be part of a blog tour that is celebrating the release of John Mark Comer’s first book, Loveology. I was sent an advanced copy of the book to read and review, however the following, my thoughts and opinions on the first chapter, are entirely my own.
It’s hard work being a newlywed. I know that not one newlywed ever in all of history would declare it to be true in that first year of marriage. No, it’s all wonderful and smiles and sunshine in that first year.
Until you look back from your fifth year.
It’s only then that you see how much you were putting in. How difficult it was to get use to your spouse’s ways. Their habits. Their messes or incessant tidiness.
Sure, it’s fun. There are new things to discover and waking up side by side is pretty fantastic as is setting up your own home and the so many amazing things that go along with that. But it’s also sort of exhausting. Routines aren’t yet in place and tones of voices haven’t been completely figured out yet. Toilet seats aren’t always put down and meals, even groceries, don’t just magically appear.
It wasn’t until year seven that I learned the most amazing word in all of marriage.
Simple translation: I’m not going anywhere!
You have no idea how much freedom can come from that simple word. That simple notion that one is in it. Thick or thin. Goods and bads. Gourmet meals or burnt to a crisp.
It means that even when you cease to impress they are with you. It means that when you royally screw up they’re there to forgive you. It means that they’re not just sticking around because you’re super fun, super sexy and super smart. It means they’re sticking around. Like, forever.
It’s a game changer, this little Hebrew word and John Mark Comer starts his book, Loveology off with a chapter of this title.
I was instantly glued to the pages and kept on reading until I was finished the entire thing. Because anyone who gets this little word is worth listening to, I assure you.
Our culture, he points out, is so flippant in our use of the word love. He calls it a junk drawer word that we use to dump on all sorts of things. “I ‘love’ God, and I ‘love’ fish tacos. See the problem?” He states.
I do. I do see the problem.
My hubs and I have always believed that marriage is for life. But until you hit a moment where you have to prove that, the words are easy to say. Sure, we can say we’ll always be there. We can say in sickness and health when we’re perfectly healthy and for richer or poorer when we’re more on the rich side but what about when we’re not. Do our words have staying power?
We were put to the test around year 7. Classic, I know. We let each other down. We were on the poorer side of rich. We had trial after trial in so many realms that I’m not even going to start throwing them down here. Let’s just say, if ever there was a time to show that we really meant those vows, it was now.
It was then that we learnt the power of ahava and the joy that can come from knowing that as a couple, indeed, we are not going anywhere. Come what may. Challenge after challenge. Sickness and failure and lack of funds in the bank.
Comer says, “I believe that marriage is for life. Remember what Jesus said? ‘What God has joined together, let no one separate.’ I stand with Jesus, which is why I think we need a redefinition of love that will stand up to the frontal assault of life. And we find that redefinition in the Scriptures…
Love = Jesus on the cross.
There you have it, in black-and-white. If you want to know what love looks like, don’t look at a dictionary; look at a Jewish prophet crucified outside of Jerusalem. Look at God in the flesh, giving his life away for the world.”
That’s such a different notion than I had at 21 as I stood in the little church in my gleaming white dress smiling the biggest smile of my life. I had butterflies in my tummy and wonder in my eyes as I looked at the guy I was marrying. He was so cool. He could skateboard, spin 540’s on his snowboard and would hold my hand and part the crowd so we could make it to the front of the coolest indie concerts. He painted canvases and sculpted flowers for gifts instead of doing what any guy could do and pick a bunch of roses up from the grocery store. He had travelled the world and come back to date me. I was in love. Or so I thought.
What I was, was in lust. Infatuation. Oh, I had affection for this guy but I’m not sure I ever thought of giving of myself for him. No, I’m pretty sure I didn’t.
But as Comer points out in this chapter ahava, “…love is a feeling and an action…at its core, love as defined by Jesus on the cross is self-giving…It’s choosing – choosing of your own free will – to play the role of the servant, the least important person in the room”
Using the example of Jesus washing his disciples feet he shows that love isn’t just that feeling I had when we first kissed but it’s radically more. If it was just those feelings then I should have vamoosed long ago when those feelings weren’t as strong as they once were. When I was let down or angry or even felt betrayed by the one who was suppose to love me. But if it’s more than that, if it involves giving and serving and ahava then it means that we’re all in. No matter what.
“Feelings,” says Comer, “no matter how vivid, in the long run, are weak. They come and go. But ahava has resolve. Staying power. It has that word we all tend to avoid – commitment.”
And it’s by ahava that 16 (and a half) years later we’re still married. Still in love and still practicing love. Still laying down our own desires for the good of the other and still seeking the others good. It happens by going, “…the way of the cross.”