Around 4:50 in the morning, my husband climbed into bed after staying up all night, a pattern he’s struggled with for many years as an adrenal fatigue sufferer and worker of various shifts (both military and now civilian). His circadian rhythm is a total mess and it is never kind to him or his body; something which we both are aware and regularly discuss.
I awoke as he came in and snuggled up with him for the final moments we’d share the space before I got up to begin my day. His shoulders are always such a sweet sanctuary for my soul.
As we lay there we talked and chatted a bit, but then I softly said something on my heart that has always been a potential rocky ground.
“Maybe tomorrow you can go to bed earlier. I’m concerned about you and at this point you’re only going to get at max six hours of sleep. I’d like to keep you around for a while.”
He pulled me in more tightly, kissed the top of my head and nodded. “Tomorrow I’ll try to be in bed around two. Especially because I love you.”
Almost as soon as the exchange had occurred it dawned on me that we’ve had this conversation before, many times in fact, and not always has it been so pleasant or positive.
There was, for sure, a difficult season in our marriage when even the inquiry or suggestion alone that he make a positive change for his health was received with defensiveness and rejection.
His soul had not yet learned to trust me, nor my goodwill for his life.
But, for nearly fourteen years now we have walked together through the thick and thin of life, and I have never left his side, no matter how bad things have gotten. And, truly this is not a testament to myself, because I have only done it by a close and intimate walk with my Abba.
For fourteen years he has been shown love and acceptance, and been repeatedly extended a hand of welcoming and belonging in my heart.
This has not, however, been without boundaries (see my post on the topic here). It has taken me many years to learn to love within the context of boundaries; knowing where my rights and responsibilities end and his begin, and then lovingly protecting this fence line for us both.
Tonight, though, a new reality became ever-present to me; we have crossed into the land of oneness, where our boundary lines are extended to overlap so that he is welcome to speak into my life, and I am welcome to speak into his.
Not because either of us has more power over the other, but because we love each other with complete trust that each of us wants the utmost best for the other and desires to see the other live a beautifully full and healthy life while on this earth and hereafter.
In the space of oneness, I set aside my rights and welcome in also the preferences and requests of my spouse so that we can be united further; not because I have to, but because I choose to.
Do You Embrace a Covenantal Marriage?
This overlapping space where oneness exists is where the hard things are spoken and received in Love. The attributes that define Godly Love are present there: patience, gentility, kindness, eternal Truth, humility, compassion, empathy, purity, covering, and bold confrontation of harmful things.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” ~ 1 Cor. 13:7-8
In this space, my heart is able to speak to his about my desire to love and care for him, but that it is necessary for him to also do the same for himself.
Though he may be well into receiving my love, he is still learning how to extend it to himself in a total way of wholeness.
Aren’t we all?
And, it dawned on me through this exchange that this is precisely how our covenantal relationship with our Abba is created to look. In fact, a covenantal marriage is defined as an earthly example of exactly this in Ephesians 5:32. It is that beloved mystery revealed in scripture of holiness, purity, and Love.
Our Abba has revealed His Love for us in many ways, culminating in His saving work on the cross in the form of Yeshua, the Christ; completely God, yet completely man. This is the work that He has displayed and claimed; a sacrificial love, the grounds which set the stage for a covenantal marriage relationship.
But, along with His sacrificial Love, He also extends His protective requests for us to “take care of ourselves,” for He too wants what will give us the best life and lead us to a beautiful existence on this earth.
In Torah, we repeatedly see the arenas that He knows are ultimately harmful for us and from which He desires for us to stay away.
Could He command it with a harsh hand? Sure. If God were Zeus, I’m sure thunderbolts of lightning would shoot down immediately at everyone who dared to disagree.
But, does He? No. His desire is for a relationship with us; a covenantal marriage in the spiritual realm, where we trust and believe His Love for us and He is welcome to speak into the places in our lives where He knows that a harmful future will follow.
He extends a hand of gentility and kindness to His Bride, because that’s what a Good Husband does. He withholds His power and strength for His Bride, and instead offers in its place a never-leaving Love that is always willing to forgive and welcome back a repentant wayward spouse.
His Love is perfect.
But whoever loves God is known by God.” ~ 1 Cor. 8:3
He serves His Bride with a self-sacrificial Love, one which culminated on the cross, and yet still remains in the everyday wonders we experience all around us. He has promised His covering to His devoted Bride, and never changes His mind.
But, He obeys the Law of Boundaries, and does not force Himself upon us. He speaks and has clearly defined not only how He wants to be shown Love, but His desire for us to also Love ourselves in holiness and Truth. And, when we decide that we do not accept that Love, but reject it, He walks with us while we figure out whether or not we truly want the Covenantal Marriage He has offered.
He permits us the freedom to choose and intentionally determine if we too are ready to extend back a self-sacrificial Love to Him, where we choose to walk out a dying to self.
Love Casts Out All Fear
In the context of my earthly marriage, my husband could have rejected my words. He could have maintained that I was simply “trying to control” him. He could have stood on his right to do whatever he wants with his time, body, emotional tank, etc.
But, would that has drawn us closer in our relationship? Would that have added a new stitch in the knitting together of our hearts?
I also could have DEMANDED that he change his behaviors. I could have made ultimatums and handed out threats of punishment if he did not do what I wanted in a speedy timeframe.
We love because he first loved us.” ~ 1 John 4: 19
But, would that have shown a steadfast Love? Would that have spoken acceptance and belonging to the one with whom I have chosen to be connected until death do us part?
Relationship creation takes time, and it takes a repeated washing of the eyes to be able to see clearly the Loving heart of the spouse who desires only good, not harm, for their beloved.
In this same way, our walk with our Abba in this covenantal marriage acts exactly the same when it is centered on the mantle of Godly Love; a Love where self-sacrifice meets self-sacrifice in the hearts of two knit together as One.
Perfect Love cannot be demanded, but must be freely given.
Anything other than that which is freely given is merely an exchange of fear through a master/slave thinking pattern.
This Perfect Love is the culmination of a growth relationship with our Abba that moves from recognized Lord and Creator to Master and willing servant to Friend and Companion to the ultimate Bridegroom and Bride.
This Perfect Love casts out all fear, rejecting an obedience that is without relationship, and relentlessly works to be built on the Rock of Truth and Wisdom, where the Greatest Commandment resides: Love.
Abba, may our hearts and minds be united with Yours in the fullness of Oneness. May you remove the planks from our eyes so that we can see clearly to receive the Love and Kindness that you extend to us over and over again. Show us Your unfailing Love, and provide for our every need. Teach us how to walk in Your footsteps, and lead us in the Way everlasting. Amen.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Phil. 4: 7