Better all the time
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. -John 17:3 (NIV)
All this talk about Abiding got me to thinking....
I met my wife in the fall of 1980. Speech 101, freshman year of college. I thought she was cute, she thought I was funny, so we went out. We dated off and on for a couple years before I decided she was the one I should spend my life with. In what would become a pattern for us, she had already figured that out.
This summer, we'll celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. I thought I knew her and I thought I loved her on our wedding day, but when I compare then to now, I'm amazed at what kids we were. You could say the relationship has evolved a bit over time. I've had a long time to study her, to learn her, to see her for who she is and gain an appreciation for her. The experience wasn't gained cheaply and the way has not been easy. There were times, even seasons, when we didn't like each other very much. But we both committed to the relationship early on. She has never given up me, even when she would've probably been justified in doing so.
I know the things that make her smile, what jokes she still thinks are funny, what hurts her feelings, and which stories she'll tell again when she remembers certain times in our life. I know her love language: Words of Affirmation. I know she is fiercely protective of our children, even though she has no illusions that they might be perfect.
I don't have a list of things that need to be done in order to make her love me more or better. Just the same, I (usually) try to do things that will make her happy, completing little chores that she may or may not take notice of, to make her days more pleasant because I love her. We don't always see eye to eye, but we are able to discuss the points where we disagree and (again, usually) come to some kind of shared perspective.
We enjoy hanging out together. Sometimes the activity is planned, sometimes spur-of-the-moment, often there's no activity at all. We may talk a lot, in great depth and detail, or we may sit silently. And we're both completely comfortable in all those scenarios. I'm more at peace when I am with her. She's like my favorite old sweatshirt on a fall afternoon when I don't have any place I have to be - only prettier.
Don't misunderstand - I'm not saying our marriage is perfect. Sometimes I neglect her, take her for granted. It isn't unusual for us to jump up and down on each other's last nerve (usually with me doing the jumping and her with the nerve). What I am saying is, we have a life together. Shared history and shared experiences, rooted in a commitment that has resulted in a love that grows deeper over time. Not based on rules or checklists or schedules, but based on relationship and trust.
It's kinda nice. And I think maybe it's a hint of what Jesus had in mind for my relationship with Him, when He talked about "Abiding".
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” -Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV)