Real Love: Never Giving Up
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Are you wondering how to keep going in your marriage? On FamilyLife Today, Bob Lepine and hosts Dave and Ann Wilson share about how God can take the ashes of real life and make them beautiful.
Real Love: Never Giving Up
Bob: We’ve all heard the expression: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” That doesn’t mean they check out/it doesn’t mean they leave; in fact, just the opposite. The Bible says love is tenacious; love never lets go.
This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, February 11th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. What does it take to cultivate tenacity in a marriage relationship? How do we “bear all things,” and “endure all things, believe all things,” and keep hoping, even when things get tough? We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Have you put the menu together/have you done the shopping for this?—I’m excited about the cooking together thing, or did you say that’s 2022?
Dave: That’s 2022.
Bob: Oh, okay.
Ann: Oh! [Laughter] I wanted—that’d be so fun! Let’s start this year! [Laughter]
Dave: You know what? If Ann wants to do it in 2021, we’re doing it.
Ann: Bob, what are you doing?
Bob: I’m actually going to be—
Dave: Oh yes, you’re going to be in Ohio.
Bob: I’m going to be teaching at a church in Ohio. We’re doing a weekend conference on Valentine’s Day, so I’m building into the lives of—
Ann: Oh, that’s really romantic, Bob!
Bob: You’ve done this before though; right? You’ve been out on Valentine’s weekend, where the two of you are working.
Dave: Many times.
Ann: We’re usually gone.
Bob: We have to postpone; we have to make up for Valentine’s Day on another day.
Ann: You’re living a lifestyle of love.
Dave: We’re going to check with Mary Ann to make sure that Bob does re-up on the day after or the week after.
Bob: At the Lepine house, every day is Valentine’s Day. [Laughter]
Ann: There you go!
Dave: I do not think so.
Ann: I wonder if Mary Ann would say that?
Bob: I hope that our listeners are making some kind of plans for this weekend; and I’m thinking about those, who have been stressed/those who have maybe found themselves in isolation.
Ann: They may not like each other.
Bob: Yes; so what do you do if Valentine’s Day is coming, and you just are not at a great place in your marriage? How do you deal with that?
Ann: I like what you always say in your teaching, that you go back, like in Revelation: “You go back and do the things you used to do or you once did.”
Bob: Yes; Revelation, Chapter 2—the church at Ephesus that had lost its first love—
Dave: Yes; “Repent and do the things you did at first.”
Bob: Don’t you think, if a husband or a wife came to one another and said, “Look, I know we’re in a tough place right now, and we don’t like each other right now,—
Ann: —“but I just want to dance with you in the kitchen.” [Laughter] Oh, is that what you were going to say?
Bob: I was thinking, “…but maybe—
Dave: Man, I’m getting ideas right now! She’s telling me how to woo her! [Laughter]
Bob: I’m thinking maybe you just say, “Maybe we could have dinner this weekend, and let’s talk about what we need to unpack. Maybe we could take some steps forward.” Maybe some of our listeners have the Dates to Remember box, and they’re going to Date 1 on Valentine’s weekend.
Find a couple of questions that can take you into the beginning stages of trying to unlock some of what you have locked up around there.
Ann: I think, sometimes you hear that, and there’s this big sigh, “I don’t even know how to do that. What questions?” Maybe another idea could be: “Maybe you just share a couple things you appreciate about each other.” That can be really healing; it’s almost a balm.
Bob: If you’re at a place, where even saying that to one another feels awkward, write it down.
Bob: Put a note/say—again, acknowledge that you’re in a tough spot—but say, “I’ve been thinking about things I appreciate about you, and I just want you to know I do appreciate these things,” and “I want to try.”
Ann: That’s good.
Dave: Yes; that’s good.
Bob: We’re going to spend some time today reflecting on what the Bible has to say about love. One of the things it says is that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” You could say it this way: “Love is tenacious; it does not let go.” In fact, for all of us in marriage, there are times when we have to hang on, and just get through it, and still keep breathing. I think the Bible says that’s what love does: it bears, believes, hopes, and endures.
We’re going to hear a session today from the Love Like You Mean It® video series. This is actually Session Number 9 of the 10 sessions. We talk about those four aspects of love in this session. We actually begin with some of the couples, who were involved in helping with this series; we asked them if there were any honeymoon fail stories, and they shared a few with us.
[Excerpt from Love Like You Mean It Video Series]
Woman #1: Oh, goodness. Okay; one really good one is that I took this disposable panoramic camera with us and then another camera. Well, I was shooting most of the pictures with the other camera and realized, after our first week, that I had no film in it.
Man #1: She was devastated!
Woman #1: Yes.
Woman #2: Yes!
Man #2: Oh yes.
Woman #2: We got sick!
Man #2: Yes, we both did.
Woman #2: We went to Mazatlán, Mexico.
Man #2: We ate outside in the patio. It was just humid, and we were getting bit up; and the next day, we woke up sick/sick.
Woman #2: Both of us were running high fevers. We decided we had to cut the honeymoon short and go home. [Laughter]
Man #3: We didn’t have a honeymoon. We had a choice: either go on a honeymoon and move back with my mom, or take the money and move into our own apartment. We took the money and moved into our own apartment. [Laughter] I was not moving in with my mom!
Woman #4: We did climb Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica. There was a point, where the guide brought us to a pool. He wanted us all to hold hands and jump backwards into this pool.
Man #4: Beautiful moment; we just finished climbing the whole thing.
Woman #4: Yes; a bunch of couples went on ahead of us. It was our turn, and I told the guide that I was not going to go backwards. Carlos did, and I didn’t. [Laughter]
Man #4: Yes; I fell down there, and she let go. I went and fell. I’m like, “Going down!”
Woman #4: “Bye!” [Laughter]
Man #4: “I think this is the way we’re starting.”
Bob: There is a well-known quote from Sir Winston Churchill, who of course was the Prime Minister in Great Britain during World War II. Early in his political career, he made the statement that a bulldog’s nose is slanted so that the bulldog can continue to breathe without ever letting go. A bulldog attaches itself to something, and it can keep breathing; because its nose is slanted back—it never lets go.
There’s a connection between a bulldog and the Bible’s definition/the Bible’s description of love, because the Bible says that real love doesn’t let go: “It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” Real love never lets go.
When your spouse is bearing a burden, you bear it with them; because love bears all things. When your spouse has lost confidence, or is starting to become discouraged, you believe with them/you believe alongside; you believe for them in some cases. When your spouse has lost hope, you bring hope to the equation; you bring the hope they need; you hope all things. When things get hard for both of you, you don’t give up. Love endures all things; it stays connected/stays committed.
Man #1: Basketball—man, basketball consumed a lot of our life. There was a time, because I did not make it, and I went through a bout with depression. But Roz never gave up on me. She would push me: “Come on; you have to get up. There’s something more for you.”
Man #2: There were many times where I wanted to quit/I wanted to give up. I just felt like I couldn’t live up to certain expectations, whether it was from other people or myself; and I just wanted to give up. There were times, where I even felt suicidal. I shared that with you; but she just would get over me, and pray over me, and encourage me. Sometimes, that was what got me through to the next day.
Woman #1: Last year, just a lot of different things in my own life changed, one after another; and it was really hard. I just kind of felt like everything was upside down, like: “What am I doing with my life?” “Who am I?”—all of this stuff. He just came alongside me and just continually reminded me of: “This isn’t it. This isn’t all you were created for; this isn’t your whole purpose. Your purpose is to point people to Christ/to reflect Him.” I’m thankful that he reminded me of who I’m supposed to be and who I’m representing.
Bob: The default setting in a marriage relationship is to be a setting of tenacity—a setting, where we say, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m here; I’m with you,”—not just “I’m stuck,”—but “I am in this with you to help us get to a better place than where we are today/to help us get through a difficult season. I will bear this with you; I’ll believe this with you and for you; I’ll hope together with you, and I will endure with you. We’re going to get to the other side.” Love is tenacious.
Things will get hard in a marriage relationship; but you’ve already made the decision to be tenacious and to stay with it, even when things do get hard. In a marriage, there can be times when it’s hard to stay committed—it’s hard to endure; it’s hard to bear another person’s burden—because things have gotten tough. But when we’re bearing with one another, here’s what we’re saying: “When the weight gets heavy on either one of us, our job is to bear that together. If the weight is causing you to crash, my job is to get under that weight with you, and help bear it with you, so that you’re not bearing it alone.”
In marriage, we bear all things together. We bear one another’s burdens—the Bible says in Galatians 6, verse 2—so bearing all things means I’m not going to bring shame or reproof; I’m not going to abandon you when you’re facing a hard time. I’m going to be here with you as your co-laborer in life.
One author says what the Bible’s saying here—when it says, “Love bears all things,”—is love knows when to keep its mouth shut. Sometimes, bearing all things means I’m just going to be here with you in the midst of this, and sit here and help you as you’re under the pile. I’m not going to be one who’s criticizing, or complaining, or walking away.
Then, when it says we’re to endure all things together, that’s actually a military term. Enduring means to stand fast in battle when there’s an onslaught. When the opposing army is coming in your direction, you stand firm. That’s what it means to endure all things. We’re saying, in marriage, we’re going to stand as allies; and we’re going to endure whatever comes at us. We’re going to stand firm together; we’re going to recognize our spouse is not our enemy. There is an enemy, who wants to destroy our marriage; it’s not our spouse. We endure all things because, together, we’re allies in the spiritual battle that we face in a marriage relationship; so love bears all things and endures all things.
Let’s also talk about hoping and believing, because I think these are important as well. The Bible’s not saying we should live in a love fantasy—where we live a pie-in-the-sky, nothing’s ever wrong, and we’re just always hopeful and always positive—no, the Bible wants us to live in reality; but in the midst of the reality we’re living in, it wants us to lean in the direction of believing the best about another person and having hope for the future. The other direction is to believe the worst about somebody else and have no hope for the future. Love will not thrive if you’re believing the worst about somebody and you have no hope for the future.
Believing and hoping says, again: “My default settings in marriage are going to be that, when we face tough times and obstacles/when we face reality, my default is: ‘I’m going to believe the best about you. I’m going to believe the best about the circumstances; and I’m going to have hope for our future, even in the midst of this reality.’” Ultimately, what we’re saying is: “I’m going to believe that God is still here and can still work, no matter what we’re facing.” God can take the ashes that are in front of us—the reality of these ashes—and He can make beauty out of these things. We believe and we hope; because we believe in a God and have hope in a God, who is a God who brings beauty from ashes.
Man #4: Yes, I had worked for the same company for about 20 years. They came in one day and decided to get rid our entire department. They just kind of went down the row, one by one, laying off people. I was actually the last person they laid off. That started a four-year-long journey that we went on.
Woman #4: I remember I was at Bed, Bath & Beyond; it was December 5th. I was about to buy his birthday present, and he called me. I just walked out the store and just sat in the car and cried. That was definitely one of those moments in our marriage, where it was very defining.
Man #4: Everybody else on my team got jobs within the first month, but I was convinced that God wanted me to move in a different direction.
Woman #4: So he went and registered himself for six courses to start school. At that point, our roles became very reversed. That created a lot of conflict in our house. For that time, I had the only income; so our income dropped by 90 percent.
Man #4: But now, with that load at school, I was having a 20-minute break to sit with the family for a quick meal; then I would go back down into the basement and continue studying, continue writing papers; staying up all night long. It was hard; it was exhausting. It was years of not seeing each other, really, much.
Woman #4: Yes.
Man #4: Ultimately, I find a place/I find a position. We’re good; it’s like: “Answer to prayer; this is it. We’re going to move full steam ahead on this”; but it required us moving. At the end of this long period of our marriage being on autopilot, we suddenly leave everything that we know—all of our support system, all of our friends, our home—and now, we’re in a new place. We were just lost; we were broken, and we had a lot of repair work to do.
Woman #4: Yes. That just threw me into a crazy depression. As much as I tried to be there for our kids, to help them transition well, I was just not there, emotionally, for them. Carlos really had to step it up and be the emotional parent to our kids.
Man #4: We could sense that we were getting more isolated and more alone. There were things that she didn’t want to put on me because she felt like I was going through a lot, and there were things I didn’t want to put on her because she was going through a lot. That just meant that we weren’t sharing and talking to each other, and we were handling things alone.
Woman #4: Where things really came to a head, I suppose—we had gone on a weekend retreat—and Carlos just apologizing to me, because he felt like he left me behind. But that, I guess, was a good turning point for us; because I knew that he was hearing me/he was listening.
Man #4: I knew she was going through stuff, but I didn’t realize how badly she needed me to fight for her.
I think one of the lessons that we learned is that, no matter how busy things get, we have to have time for each other.
Woman #4: Really, sharing what we’re really going through, not to be hurtful, but just to say, “Hey, this is what’s going on…”
Bob: Keep in mind, when the Bible says we’re to “bear all things,” we don’t have to do that alone. The Bible has given us a family—the body of Christ/the local church—as a place where, together, we can bear our challenges in marriage and in life. In fact, one of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my marriage is that my marriage is always better when Mary Ann and I are engaged with other couples—when we’re doing life together with other couples/when we’re able to be honest and transparent with other couples—about the challenges we’ve faced in marriage or in parenting.
Marriage is not intended to be a solo sport or even just a couple being together on their own. Bearing one another’s burdens means we bear them together, as husband and wife; but we enlarge the circle, at some point, and lean on the whole body of Christ to help us in the challenges we’re going to face.
Now, I recognize that, in most marriages, one person is probably more optimistic or more positive; the other person’s probably more negative. My wife likes to say that I’m optimistic, and she’s realistic. Well, when we recognize that these things are true about us, then we have to say—if you’re an optimist—“You probably need to remember there is a reality that has to be faced here, and let’s not just gloss over the real situation. Let’s embrace the reality that’s in front of us. Let’s step in and love reality.”
But if you lean in the direction of being the realist, you’re also prone to cynicism/you’re prone to discouragement. This is where you need to lean in the direction of believing and hoping. You need to come back to the fact that there is a God, who cares about you and who has made promises to you; and He has the power to redeem the situation, whatever it is.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things,”—what a powerful description of love. Just think about it: “In a marriage, when we are bearing the weight together; when we are believing together for one another/with one another; when we both have a hope for where our marriage can be/for where God’s taking us; and when we are enduring as we face obstacles, and challenges, and seasons of suffering, love will thrive in that environment.”
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” What about you?
Bob: We’ve been listening to Session 9 from the Love Like You Mean It video series, talking about how real love—sometimes what it looks like—is just not letting go/just hanging in when things get tough, saying, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Ann: What a great message to hear, even before you get married. I never heard anything like that—that this was what true love looks like—even though I think we had
1 Corinthians 13 read at our wedding. [Laughter]
Dave: But you don’t really understand the words.
Dave: You don’t understand how you’re going to need bulldog tenacity when it gets hard.
I’ll never forget—most everybody knows my story: my dad leaving when I was seven—so Mom and Dad were divorced when I was a little kid. He comes up to visit me in Detroit when I was probably in my 40s. I pick him up at the airport; we’re driving to a band rehearsal that I’m going to be playing guitar at, and he’s a drummer. We’re having this conversation about music.
I’ve never talked to my dad about this, but I remember asking him—I’m driving—I look over and I say, “Hey Dad, did you ever regret the divorce?” Before I can finish the sentence, he says, “Yes,”—visceral, emotional. I’m like, “Really? Why?” He’s like, “Biggest mistake of my life; I missed out on you.” I could tell in his words he was like, “I wish I would have tried harder. I wish I would have held on and made it work.”
Again, you know, it was very difficult; but you could feel in his regret: “I wish I would have borne all things. I wish I would have endured to the very end.”
Dave: I never expected to hear that from him, but it was right there in front of me.
Bob: I know we have folks listening, who feel some of that shame and that regret, who are maybe in a blended family today. The word they need to hear is that: “God can restore,” “God can heal,” “God can bring beauty from ashes.” There may be that regret; but that doesn’t mean God is done, or that He can’t turn things around in your marriage—in your life/in your family—He can bring healing to that moment.
Ann: There’s always hope.
Of course, our hope is that couples will dive deep into what the Bible has to say about real love and do it with other couples, because we really think marriages grow best/they do best, when we’re doing life in community/when we have other people—who can bear the load along with us—and other people, who can say, “We struggle with that, too; and we’re looking for help and hope.”
We’ve put together this new video series called Love Like You Mean It. Our goal with this series is that couples will get with other couples: online, if that’s how you still need to do that; or getting together in small groups if that works where you are. The Love Like You Mean It video series is now available. You can get more information/see some clips from the series; go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and the information is available there. Again, the series is called Love Like You Mean It. It works for small groups or for Sunday school. Or if you just want to go through together as a couple, you can do that as well.
Find out information about the series and about the book, Love Like You Mean It, when you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. If you don’t have a copy of the book yet, you can order it from us. Again, FamilyLifeToday.com is the website; or call to order the video series or the book; call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about what we do when we just feel like we are out of love—like there’s nothing left; the supply is gone—we just don’t have it anymore. The Bible speaks to that, and we’ll talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can tune in and be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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