A friend, a little further along in life, emailed me the following thoughts on marriage. She has older children, has been married much longer than me, and has great wisdom (hard earned!) regarding both. I thought I'd share her thoughts. I've been pondering them for the last couple days.
Here's what she said:
"Can I sound like an old lady for a second? It seems clearer and clearer to me that how we really live--deep inside--becomes more outwardly evident the older we get."
"With men, they seem to age in two pretty distinct ways: either they become more and more mellow, loving, and gentle---the ones you see trailing their wives at Wal-Mart, patiently acting like they care which brand of sour cream in on sale---or they truly do turn into the proverbial grumpy old men, and their ability to control or hide their grumpiness wears thinner and thinner with the passage of time."
"What strikes me most about the aging process in women, is how the amount they are loved and cherished shows up more and more in their countenances, their attitudes, and their actions. Think of the women you've known who are beautiful as old women. Aren't they always beloved of their husbands? It's almost like the glow of a happily pregnant woman. (Is that one of the characteristics God built into women? That we are light-bearing creatures, able to give off light and warmth to those around us when we ourselves are warm and living in the light of love?) A woman who ages knowing how much she is loved does so with a timeless beauty which emanates from within her."
She ended with this: "So my question is---Is it possible for a married woman, who is not cherished that way, to age gracefully just because she is cherished and loved by her Lord that way? Should be, right?"
Don't you hear the plea in that question? The longing to know that even though on this earth, in this life, she's not felt beloved of her husband, that her Heavenly Groom cherishes her...and that's enough. It's enough to be the bride of Christ. It's enough to be the beloved of her Father in heaven. The love of her Lord is enough to let her age with grace...to grow older with joy...and to radiate love to those around. It's enough. It's more than enough.
We aren't promised love by another person. God's love is unconditional. He's faithful. He's true. The single mom raising three kids with no man to help her? Her Lord is her only groom. The divorced woman living a lonely life and struggling to provide? Her God is her only love. The married woman in a loveless home? Her God cherishes her. God is enough.
Isn't that the plea of all of our hearts? Don't all of us women ache to be loved? To be someone's beloved? Tell us, Lord, that even if we're not fully cherished by someone in this life, that you cherish us. Tell us, Lord, that even if we're not loved in our marriages as Christ loved the church, that you love us that way. Tell us, Lord, that we are your beloved.
I suspect that my dear friend, who lets the Lord sing over her, will grow old gracefully. That the love her Heavenly Father pours over her will overflow to those around her. I suspect she's going to radiate timeless beauty because she is treasured by the King. I'm looking forward to watching.
You first, Dear Friend. Show us how it's done.