“Love your Spouse” Challenged

By Cindy Koch

It’s sometimes funny to me the debates I entertain in my own mind. And this week I debate with myself over the infamous #loveyourspouse challenge that is plastered all over Facebook and other such imaginary places. Seven days of pictures, seven days of lovely sayings, seven days of carefully selected moments, seven days to incur the jealousy and disgust of the not-as-happy virtual world. I put the question to myself – could I, should I, #lovemyspouse?

Now I have lots of fancy pictures and some fun camera filters to show you all about my love. But is that what you want? Were you even asking how I love him? And so you’d like to challenge me to show you pictures, to prove it? No silly, y’all say, it is just a fun way to recognize the person whom you have chosen to walk beside through the good times and bad times. Ohhh, but we don’t really want to see those bad times. Just show us your good times. Then we can smile and know you #loveyourspouse.

Yuck. At this point in my internal conversation I would like to punch the sappy side of me that even typed out the words: #loveyourspouse. For those of you who gag alongside me, we know the reality of marriage is not simply Barbie dream house wishes. We know of divorce that has ripped every security from a trusting heart. We see death that separates the perfect match of man and woman. We fight, we struggle, we hurt, we are love “challenged” in the very negative sense of the word. We are no strangers to this dark world; we know those #smiles are fleeting and suspect those pictures are posed.

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And then I spoke to Tony. He threw his rocks glass down with a disgusted sigh last Thursday night. Remembering nothing of our previous conversations, he angrily scrolled through pictures on his phone, yet again searching for that face. His eyes softened when her bright, still image lit up on the screen. “Here, this is her. Damn it I loved her.” Only knowing a tiny bit about Tony, he admitted that he was not the perfect husband. He worked too much, had too much fun, took things for granted, and now lives very much alone. Tony’s wife died of cancer quickly and unexpectedly 18 years ago. But each night that he sips his whiskey and seven, he still gazes at her smile. Tony knows nothing of this recent fad on the interweb, but if anyone feels the sting of love gone wrong, it is him.

What Tony said next shouldn’t have surprised me. Looking back on a life of moments of love and pain, of course he should want to cling to that smile. He gripped my arm tightly and pointed to my husband next to me saying, “Love that man, you never know how long you will have him.”

And I guess that’s what you get, if that’s all you got. I teared up and had to excuse myself, quickly. I was devastated for the stranger who sat beside me that night. He had no hope of any greater love outside of his peaceful faded picture.

But you, my friend, have so much more. You have a promise sealed by God that you will live forever. You have a word of love that gushes from the heart of your Lord. You have a savior that speaks life to your spouse through the lips you call your own. And you #loveyourspouse through Christ.

Sadly for Instagram, Christ’s love looks a lot more like words and a lot less like happy pictures. In the middle of the same old nasty domestic fight, Christ forgives. All over the guilty secrets of his ashamed past, Christ washed him clean. In the last gasps of her cancer-induced haze, Christ calms her with his eternity to come.

So can you really see the picture of how I #lovemyspouse? I don’t know. If I’m being honest, I hope you will listen to the love that really matters.

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