To be honest, I’ve been dreading writing this part of our story. Which is strange, because it’s the best part, the turnaround. I guess I’m just afraid that I won’t be able to do it justice. Please read the last two entries if you haven’t already. Here I go…
I had the edges of love drawn out nicely—the husbandly boundaries, the duty and commitment. But it wasn’t enough. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church,” Paul commanded, and for the first time in my marriage, I realized I had no idea what that meant. I was supposed to be loving Shauna the way Christ loved the church, giving myself up for her.
Her. Her. But who was she? One afternoon I parked my backside on our romantic bench swing in the back yard… by myself (a telling moment in itself). I began to think about our marriage. About Shauna.
“Who is she?” I wondered. And then the dense-husband fog lifted slightly, just enough for me to see that my only hope of loving Shauna the way God loved her was to see her the way God saw her.
“Then show me, Lord,” I begged. “What do you see when you see her?” A desperate, honest prayer. What came next unfolded in my mind’s eye, technically, though I’m going to call it a vision. In any case, words are about to fail me, so be patient.
There will come a moment for every true believer—the “twinkling of an eye” moment—where we will be “revealed” as the sons and daughters of God we really are, fully like Christ because the work he began in us has been carried on to completion. C.S. Lewis says that if we were to meet ourselves in that moment, we’d be tempted to worship ourselves because we’ll look so glorious.
Well, that’s what I saw. God basically stepped into my soul and unveiled the real Shauna, complete, flawless. Shauna as she will be, fully redeemed. Shauna, utterly radiant—without spot or wrinkle. Angelic, shimmering, knee-weakening, stunning. I had never in my life seen some thing, or some one, so achingly beautiful. I’m surprised I remembered to breathe.
“This is what I see when I look at her,” Jesus told me. I was speechless.
And then he said something else.
“It’s all in there.”
Wow. All that Christlike beauty, radiance, and potential. Is in her. Right now. Not, “will be one day.” Is. And God was asking me to join him, inviting me to partner with him as he loves it out of her. As he helps her learn to shine with the glory that he’s imbued her with, all to his glory.
I’ve gotta tell you, in that moment, using “duty” to describe my love for Shauna seemed like a sin. Mere “commitment” seemed like a dirty word. No, there had to be something more, something deeper. Even the word “love,” already hopelessly bludgeoned and dulled by the world around me, couldn’t capture the essence of what I was feeling. I finally settled on a new term, Christ’s word of choice to describe what is dearest to our hearts: treasure. Yes, that was it, or close enough. I no longer “just” loved her. I treasured her, because I saw her as she is.
I saw her as Christ sees her, and instantly realized, “Lord, if this is Shauna, I can see why you’d die for her.” And then Paul’s words made sense: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church—giving himself up for her.” When Christ died for the church, it wasn’t radiant (or even visible) yet. She was full of darkness, sin, and weakness. But he saw in her the beauty his Father had imbued her with, and it was worth it to him.
By the way, the word “agape,” which many of us know refers to both the highest and deepest conception of love, literally means “to esteem, cherish, favor, honor, prize, relish.” To treasure.
Treasure is buried, friends. Always. Hidden by humanness. Obscured by opposition. Forgotten under faults, darkened by the debris of conflict, busyness, and selfishness. But it’s there. Please believe me, it’s there. In each other. You just need the eyes to see it. And God can give you those eyes.
As someone once said, “For every ounce of gold you have to mine a ton of dirt. But you don’t go in looking for the dirt, you go in looking for the gold.”
A little while later, I took a picture of myself, printed it up, framed it, and presented it to Shauna. A grin carved my face in half.
She scanned the picture, not getting it. “What am I looking at?”
“I was thinking of you when I took this,” I explained.
Her eyes searched the photo again, and tears tumbled down her cheeks as she saw it: My eyes were lit up. The sparkle was back.
NEXT: Who’s to blame?