There I sat, reeling in the aftermath of a whirlwind divorce I never saw coming. Honestly, I only had to ask God once to settle forgiveness in my heart and He provided immediately as only He can. That was an incredible blessing, but moving forward I faced a new battle with shame. I wore it like denim. It felt like I couldn’t help it so I avoided anyone I knew who would obviously see it.
It’s pretty easy to feel like a failure who should never try again, but in the midst of my pity party, I remembered the God I serve. A God of restoration and redemption. So I submitted every ounce of pain to Him in full faith and confidence that He would use it for my refinement. It’s a promise laced throughout His Word.
The shame told me not to write about this. You can probably imagine what God had to say about that,
2 Corinthians 1:4
4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
So here goes. Through some help from a friend, and some incredible reading recommendations, God provided hope for my future and burdened me to share.
A Matter of Brain Architecture
If you’ve been in a relationship with the opposite sex for, let’s say, more than five minutes, then you’ve probably noticed that person seems to process thoughts differently. What you might not know is that there are very real physiological reasons for that. The corpus callosum is a superhighway running between the hemispheres of your brain. It includes grey matter and white matter, but the ratio is different for men and women. Think of grey matter like computing power, while white matter are the cables connecting everything for speed. Women have more white, and men have more grey.
To stick with the analogy, women have a computer that excels at running multiple windows at once. A man’s computer prefers to focus its power deeply on one thing at a time. Relationally, this is why something might pop into a woman’s mind that seems completely random to the man sitting next to her. Men, it’s also why your lady might have an angry look on her face because she’s tried to get your attention multiple times while you’re stuck in deep thought figuring out the implications of the latest sports stat you just saw. Those are two practical examples, but use your imagination and the possibilities are endless. If you want a successful relationship, you should do your very best to recognize any issues this could cause, and handle them with the selfless grace God extends our way every second of every day.
The Dialects of Love
If love were a language, it’s highly likely that your significant other is speaking a different dialect than you. There are different ways to express love, and your mate prefers to receive it in a certain way that he or she may not even be aware of.
Gary Chapman put in the work to helps us all, and published it in his 1995 book The 5 Love Languages. Read this book to avoid awkward moments of trying to express your love and it going unnoticed or under appreciated. It’s not your spouse’s fault—you’re just doing it wrong. Read this book if you want to know what to do to make them understand and cherish your love for them.
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
If two people will combine this with mutual submission to the biblical directive of selflessly putting the other person’s needs and desires above their own, a lifetime won’t seem long enough. You can take a quiz and determine your love language here.
That Ain’t Love
Are you looking back in hindsight at a number of failed relationships that all seemed fantastic in the beginning? Somewhere along the line someone’s feelings faded and they fell out of love. This is that all- important moment where I point out just how screwed up our culture has us when it comes to defining love.
You don’t fall into it, and you don’t fall out of it. It is not a fleeting feeling or emotion. Don’t cry when I say this, but there is no one perfect person for you. There are no perfect people, period. Sure the idea of one soul mate for everyone sounds nice, but it literally defies logic. There’s 7.3 billion people in the world. In a million years, every ounce of computing power eHarmony and Match.com have couldn’t figure that out for us.
The danger in thinking that way is that you tend to buy a lie that tells you, “This is fate. And since it’s fate, everything will fall into place.” If you’re not careful, it will excuse you from the incredible selfless effort it requires to love someone properly. Your feelings will drive your decisions and there isn’t a relationship in the world that can survive that.
Ironically, it’s the way that God designed us which leaves us prone to believe that lie. You know those butterflies in your stomach when you meet someone new? By whatever standard you hold, this person exceeds all expectations and leaves you dumbstruck in total awe. We’ve all been there, and it definitely feels like fate has brought love to your doorstep! But that ain’t love. It’s attraction. It’s a powerful spark God provides in which he hopes will lead to real love.
Don’t Believe the Lies—Love is a Verb
Love is something we choose to do even when our feelings tell us otherwise. Biblically, I believe that’s actually the purest form of it. I challenge you to find one place in the Bible that excuses you from loving others because you woke up in a bad mood. Good luck.
Hollywood and Hallmark tell you the initial attraction is love. Psychologists have literally discovered that it will chemically wear off anywhere from after a few months to about two years max. That may all sound very depressing if you’ve been watching chick flicks on repeat while waiting for a knight in shining armor to knock on the door. But what God has in store, as usual, is so much better than that. So much more satisfying. It’s built on divine principles like honor, loyalty, and sacrifice. And it makes every other notion of love you’ve ever felt feel like adolescent nonsense.
As a divorced man I might sound completely unqualified to tell you all of this. And that’s fair, but as a child of God I know this love all too well. It’s His. He created it. And I have hope because I now know how to reflect that love well beyond the initial fireworks when my time comes again.
Do yourself a favor and don’t learn the hard way. The couple pictured below are two of my favorite people in the world. They’ve been married longer than I’ve been alive—by a pretty good margin I might add. I included it to give you hope. This is still possible with God’s help. This can be done, and it will be worth it. Have faith.