The Gospel + Romance

I'm not sure when I first heard the phrase "Love is a Choice", but I remember when I really started to believe it. I got married young, a few weeks shy of my 21st birthday, and my husband had to sneak glasses of wine to me on our honeymoon. Looking back, I imagine the wise adults around us feared that we didn't really understand what marriage was about. They were right to fear, but God helped us and held us together. And ten years later, He is still teaching us what it's about. 

So on that sweet hot July day, I knew in my head that love was choice. Even though we were young, we'd been through a lot already at that point, and we knew that the fuzzy feelings wouldn't carry us further than our honeymoon. I didn't expect to always FEEL in love, but I did expect to always be married - because it was a choice we were going to make over and over and over again. 

Fast forward a few years later and our idyllic life had turned very much upside down. We had three beautiful blessings, but we also had three kids in three years. We were broke financially, broken spiritually and relationally. I was fifty pounds heavier, Nick had some how gotten lighter - but that's what men do, right? In those years where we barely resembled those two people who'd held hands in the hot July sun and kissed on the beach moments after the ceremony, we realized that love really was a choice. And it was one worth making over and over and over again. 

Over the next few years, we continued to grow together and we continued to understand the gospel. The bad news was that we were sinful and broken people who really couldn't do much good on own. The GOOD NEWS was that the power of Christ was alive and active within us and we could love each other, even though we were both sinful and didn't really always want good for one another. And I'll tell you - as I look around myself, in community, I see a lot of married couples loving one another with that good news gospel love. And that is GOOD. 

I see husbands leading well. I see wives serving so much. I see couples trying to teach their kids the beauty and truth of the Gospel. But you know what I sometimes miss seeing? I miss seeing the romance. I miss seeing the warm fuzzies. I don't see as many women (myself included) feeling their cheeks flushed with excitement when their husbands come home and I don't see as many men passionately pursuing their wives with abandon. The gospel-love, the daily choosing, it's there and it's beautiful. But dare I say? It's not all that we need. In my opinion, it's the not the full picture of what God intended us to have. And it's not surprising to me that women and men seek excitement outside of marriage when we preach the kind of "romance" that mostly looks like tolerating one another and forgiving each other a lot. 

I think that maybe a good portion of us in the current Christian culture have bought a lie. We've believed that the romantic, feely love is fleeting and the gospel, forgiving love is what stays. But I believe that Christ came that we would have life to the full and I believe that our marriages are not and should not be excluded from that fullness. The feels, the flowers, the making out. Is there a rule that says that ends once we start choosing each other daily? The flush of the cheeks, the sweet innuendos, the constantly sharing our hearts - for Him and one another, does that really have to end? 

In reality, if our gospel love is real and active, shouldn't it overflow right back into worship of God and romantic celebration of one another? 

I think that every good and perfect gift is from the Father above. So I think romance is from the Father. I think sex is from the Father. I think excitement is from the Father. I think there are seasons where Gospel-love in marriage is all that we have and praise God that it's enough. But I believe He created marriage for more. And I'm ready to fight for it. 

I want to fight for abundant marriage the way Jacob fought + worked for Rachel. 
I want to fill my husband with delight, at all times, the way Proverbs 5 mentions. 
I want to continue believing that Nick and I are better together, best friends even, like God declares us to be Genesis 2. 
I want our marriage to have all the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and all the spice of Song of Solomon. 
And I genuinely believe God wants that for us too. 

This last thing I want this post to be is prescriptive or shaming. This isn't me saying, "have more sex with your husband so he'll be a good husband". Bleh, no. This isn't me saying, "Shame on you for losing the spice!" Ick. Gross. If you're in a season of loss or heartache or restoration or repair - remember that Gospel love is enough for you. Keep choosing one another and sticking together, and hoping against hope that God's goodness will break through your brokenness - KEEP GOING. Gospel love IS enough, but have hope because there's more, sister. 

In full disclosure, this post came about after about two hard marriage weeks in my own life. But the more I thought and prayed on it, the more I realized this is really what I'd want to share with all my married friends in light of Valentines. February 14 for me typically means expectation and disappointment or really just trying to blink hard and pretend like I don't miss the romance of V-days gone before. Instead this year, I feel this conviction to START WITH ME. Start with prayer. Start with hope. Start with smiling. Start with fighting for what God might have. It's also what I'd most want to share in light of all the people talking about the movie coming out this weekend that I don't even care to name. I don't have a single second to shame or blame someone for watching a movie like that if I don't believe that God has a wild and beautiful option for Biblical marriage that is a far better option than the world's depiction of romance. 

This post is a question and a call to fight. Do we believe God might want more from our marriages as Christians? Do we believe He might equip us and provide us with the fluffy feelings again? Do we think He's stronger than time, growing comfortable with one another, past hurts that we're holding on to, sin, shame, and laziness? Do we think maybe He meant for us to have abundant life in our marriages as well? 

I do. 
I think He can. 
I think He will. 
And I'm ready to fight.