Clueless newlyweds. That was us. We probably should have failed at the whole marriage gig long ago. We had known each other less than a year and were very, very young. Did I mention young? I was 20. He was 24. We had no money and I was a sophomore in college. Need I say more?
It was in the heat of a Chicago summer when we pulled into the red brick apartment complex with our U-haul and my sister’s hand-me-down Jeep, still aglow from our water-front wedding in eastern North Carolina a few weeks prior.
Covering every inch of our tiny apartment were boxes of wedding gifts, and clothes waiting to be unpacked. But instead of jumping to get unpacked and organized (which is never my first instinct, anyhow), I sat glued to the carpeted floor, with several Bibles and reference books encircling me. I was on a massive search for God’s thoughts on love.
The boxes could wait. But I was a wife, now. And I needed a word from God on how not to mess everything up.
I knew that love had to be at the center, if our marriage was going to be as wonderful as my little girl dreams, but I didn’t know what that looked like as a wife, day in and day out. What about when I was emotional, or in a bad mood, or if he was too consumed with work? What did love look like then?
I had heard all the “wife” verses in the Bible, but graciously, the Lord showed me something fresh, something so real, it proved to change my life, and my idea of marriage.
Amidst the taped up boxes and unpacked bags, God sat with me in Philippians and spoke about how He wanted me to love my new and forever beau.
“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
When I read this I heard God’s heart whisper to mine,
“Francie- don’t fight for your rights or your reputation; be humble in your love as a wife and look out for his needs above your own. Make your marriage about humble love, and doing everything with Wyatt’s best in mind. Your humble love will free him to love you in the same way. As you both look to Me, and live with such love, nothing will be impossible for you. A marriage based on humility and selfless love will bring a oneness of mind and purpose that will launch you into My dreams and plans for you.”
This call to humble love set the course for our marriage, and eight years later, it is one of our driving motivations. It inspires us to serve each other in generous and wildly loving ways. It also makes us both very aware of our need to draw upon Christ’s strength in order to love well.
As we both aim to practically and consistently love each other well, by acting our way into feeling, and asking each other these questions, we are re-training our selfish hearts and minds to think of each other’s needs before our own.
Humble love is LOVE LIVED in the nitty-gritty of life; the love we were made to give and receive. –> click to tweet
3 Characteristics of “Humble Love”
1. Humble love is radical love. Humble love in a marriage means that we don’t demand our own rights or own needs be met, but we focus on valuing and meeting each other’s needs. We choose love when we don’t “feel like it” and we honor each other’s needs, even when it’s inconvenient. As we’ve both lived committed to this (by God’s great grace), there has been a unity that has blasted us through pain, ushered us into healing and has blown wide the doors of blessing over our life.
2. Humble love requires God, and is a target for His blessing. This sort of love is NOT done in our own strength. It requires the power of God. But the good news is that the Holy Spirit is attracted to the expression of humble love in marriage. It’s like stick after stick being laid on a campfire, only to have the generous Holy Spirit come and light up that love with His power. He is so happy when we love with humility. Humble love is what builds marriages, families and His kingdom.
3. Humble love set us up for the marriage of our dreams. It’s a beautiful thing when our hearts remain tender to one another and to God; we are able to wholeheartedly agree with one another for our dreams and be each other’s biggest fan. We contend for each other’s best and pray for God’s fullness in our lives; we work together with one mind and one purpose. Humble love lived out is what makes the marriage of our dreams a reality.
Humble love. It’s biblical and in the context of marriage, it’s even sensuous. It’s not a “bear the burden, pay the price” kind of thinking. It’s the doorway to abundance and joy and generous living that frees and satisfies our human hearts.
It’s a small, but mighty key in life, in marriage, and will last in the light of eternity.