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Husband… do you love me?

One of the sad realities of this world is that many people throughout your life will claim to “love” you, but very few will actually put action to it – including your spouse. Quick to speak, slow to act love isn’t love at all.

Learning about Love

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.  ~ Ephesians 4:20-24 NASB

A number of years ago, before I got serious about God, I wrote a poem, Words, Part 1, which explored my relationships with people who claimed to love me, but whose actions toward me were destructive and hateful. For many years I didn’t understand love because of the way it was represented through my friend and family relationships.

Even before I understood that God was calling me to Him, before I consciously took a step on this journey, I knew how important the correlation between words and action was. My confusion came from believing the world-view of love: if people say it, it must be true. I didn’t have knowledge of the God-view of love: expression through selfless action for the benefit of others.

The Word of God says that one cannot love unless one has accepted His love. Since God is the first to love, He is the source of love. We love each other because He loved us first. (1 John 4:19) God is love. One has to live in God and be inhabited by God in order to accept and channel love. (1 John 4:15-17)

I didn’t understand love because I had no understanding of God. As I have grown to know God, my understanding of love has increased. My increased understanding of love has led me to a better expectation of my husband’s character and behavior towards me. God has also developed my discernment, which greatly improves my ability to see the difference between what is truly Christ-like and what is only a mask of Christ-likeness.

Truth and revelation will change you

I am so glad that you always keep me in your thoughts, and that you are following the teachings I passed on to you. But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.  ~ 1 Corinthians 11:2-3 NLT

One of the truths that has been developing in my life over the last few years is that a woman cannot really show a man love. She can only return the love he first gives to her.

It is out of order for a woman to express her love to a man who has not expressed his love for her to her. It is out of order for a woman to try to prove herself and her devotion to a man. It is out of order for a woman to seek to attract a man’s attention. It is out of order for a woman to pursue a man. I get that now. That’s a hard pill to swallow for some men and women. Accepting such behavior from women is part of the game some men play to “collect” women and play them against one another. A man is not going to tell a woman that she is out of order for giving him excessive attention – at least I have not come across such an honest and direct man.

I was that woman who needed to be told such. I was that woman who thought something and said it. I was that woman who felt something and expressed it. I was that woman who made herself available according to his schedule. I was that woman who kept offering to share herself, her time, her talents, her resources, her knowledge, her support, her life. I was that woman who over-exposed herself – who hung herself out to dry. Not any longer. Now I see how out of order I was. Now I see that it doesn’t matter at all if I love a man, if he has no love for me. It doesn’t matter what I do, if he doesn’t want to do anything for me. It doesn’t matter what I say, if he has no words for me. It doesn’t matter if I’m in his presence, if he prefers to be elsewhere. It doesn’t matter what I want to give or have to give if he doesn’t want anything from me.

What I want really doesn’t matter, if he doesn’t want me.

Dear Jesus, that is a hard pill to swallow. That is a devastating truth to be confronted with. But the Holy Spirit’s comfort makes the pain bearable and transforming. Now that I realize that my prior behavior was out of order and I have taken steps to correct myself, I can look at men more objectively. I communicate in a different way. Actually, I’m no longer interested in initiating conversation at all. I’m no longer interested in putting any effort into any type of interaction. Why? Because now I know and accept that it is not my effort that will determine the initiation, development, course or destination of a relationship. My response will contribute to the outcome, but my effort has no real value initially.

The male was created to be a “doer”. The female was created to “support” the male in what he does. Look at it this way, if a woman starts “doing” things that is within the male role and function, and the male is not interested in assuming the female role and function of supporting the woman as a “doer” (i.e. there is no agreement between the two) nothing in the relationship is going to operate well because the relationship is out of order.

Love needs a giver and a receiver

But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God.  ~ 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 NLT

A woman is made to receive. She gives from what she has been blessed or burdened with. A man is made to initiate the process of giving. Whatever a man gives to his woman is what he will get back from her. If he is loving, caring and attentive, she will be loving caring and attentive in return. If he is dismissive, evasive, and distant, she will become dismissive, evasive and distant. The woman does not set the tone of a relationship – the man does. The husband creates the environment in which his wife and their marriage will flourish or die.

That concept was difficult for me to wrap my mind around because, in my family, I’ve only been exposed to men who either abuse their women or ignore them. I’ve learned that men who don’t care for their wives won’t care for their household. So, essentially, I grew up surrounded by women who became “doers” because the men in their lives weren’t doing anything constructive. Today, we call such women, strong and independent. I have long maintained that I’ve never known a woman who wants to be strong and independent – certainly not the woman who has to be. I speak as a woman who has been characterized as such. There are some who may describe me as outspoken and aggressive. In my time, I saw a few people cringe when they noticed me heading their way. My early experiences taught me the “doer” behavior and mentality: if I don’t do it, it won’t get done; if I don’t initiate, it will never get started; if I don’t say something, no one will know anything.

I thank God for His gentle Holy Spirit. At first the quiet gentleness is easy for a loud bullish woman to ignore. But once there is knowledge of God and an understanding of love, everything that works against God’s design, plan and purpose for you will be rooted out of you. You will undergo a transformation that bears no resemblance to your former self. The Holy Spirit has been teaching me to zip my lip and to measure my words. I’ve been learning the painfully awkward lesson of sitting and waiting! Of all things, God wants this “doer” of a woman to sit and do nothing…. I obey while patiently asking daily, “Father, am I there yet???” (Okay, maybe we’re still working on the “patient” part….)

Throughout scripture, God the Father and Jesus the Son are depicted as the Bridegroom, first mated with Israel (land and people), then mated with the church (the body of Christ). In this depiction Israel and the church are made holy by God’s presence – the Holy Spirit – among them or in them. We are told to pursue the fruit of the Spirit in order to manifest the glory of God in our lives. Well, if we go further and align the husband’s role with Bridegroom a.k.a. God/Jesus and align the wife’s role with the Bride of Christ/Holy Spirit we will see very well the call and response, the action and the reaction throughout the Great Story that provide behavioral instructions for our conduct within our marriage relationships.

God is active in His love. Jesus sacrificed His life for His bride. There is no ambiguity in the way the Father and Son communicate and represent love. For this reason, I now know and appreciate that I will recognize my husband by his actions toward me and for me.

Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the Lord’s own mouth.

The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—a splendid crown in the hand of God.

Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride. Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. ~ Isaiah 62:1-5

Love requires presence, connection and action

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it to make it belong to God. Christ used the word to make the church clean by washing it with water. He died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault, with no evil or sin or any other wrong thing in it. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. The man who loves his wife loves himself. No one ever hates his own body, but feeds and takes care of it.  ~ Ephesians 5:25-29 NCV

Husband, do you love me? It’s a question one supposes a wife should not have to ask. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of living in the world is picking up worldly habits. Worldly men have distanced themselves from Love – they have lost their intimate knowledge of God. How can a man with no knowledge of God, who is Love, truly love his wife? How can a man, who straddles the world and the Kingdom of Heaven, love his woman fully when he doesn’t love God fully? It’s not possible.

If you believe the Word of God, then you know that love is a manifestation of God. We can only love through His Spirit, which means (1) there has to be a connection, and (2) the connection must be maintained. If a man has God’s Spirit operating within him, he is going to be active in his expression of love for his wife. He is going to pursue his wife daily. He is going to speak words of life to her constantly. He will never cease praying for her to be made into the image of Light – a deposit from him, through him and for him. A reflection of who he is in Christ. The love of a husband changes his wife so deeply that her former self dissolves into the greatness of their shared identity. She takes a new name as her husband’s wife. His claim on her is her covering. Her acceptance of him is his blessing and his joy.

Husband, do you love me?

Then let me hear your voice.

Husband, do you love me?

Then cleanse and wash me.

Husband, do you love me?

Then shepherd me.

Husband, do you love me?

Then cover me.

Husband, do you love me?

Then feed me.

Husband, do you love me?

Then disciple me.

Husband, do you love me?

Then present me to God.

Husband, do you love me? A simple question, but the affirmative response requires a great deal of committed action. (John 21:15-22)