It was a cold and eerily silent night, probably around 3 o’clock in the morning. I remember it so vividly that it gives me chills every time I think of it. The sound of my luggage wheels crackling over the cobblestone street in Minneapolis. Tears streamed down my face, my heart was heavy, and anger filled every inch of my body. I had just found out my wife was having an emotional affair and I made the decision to leave our apartment and fly back to Dallas. I was ready to get a divorce.
Broken trust leads to broken relationships, and at that moment I was experiencing it firsthand. But what I would discover later is that it takes two people to break trust. At that moment I could only see my wife’s failure. I was not weighing the importance of my actions that created the space for her to break my trust. It’s in those moments of pain that we find the greatest opportunities to access a beautiful truth that transforms our life: God is love.
While going through a premarital class at our local church, we were told that marriage is two imperfect people trying to make a perfect union and the only way for it to survive is if we viewed marriage through the lens of the one who created it. We now value the truth of that statement, but while taking the premarital class, we thought it was irrelevant to us. We ignorantly thought we knew how to love each other. We were simpleminded and immature.
I got in my car and began to drive to the airport to catch the first flight back home. I was determined to start a new chapter in my life, reinvent myself, and move on. I felt like I deserved better and since my wife had chosen another path, a decision had been made and there was no option of turning back. But as God regularly does, He lets us get to the end of ourselves and there He waits to lead us back to his ways.
Miraculously, I never got to the airport. Instead, I experienced a special moment in my car that pivoted our marriage. In the midst of my frustration, God gently reminded me of His definition of love, gave me a glimpse of His perspective of the painful situation, inspired me to return to my apartment and somehow end up back in my wife’s arms.
In the following months we realized how our selfish actions, words, desires, and intentions significantly hurt our marriage. We were reminded of the beautiful truth in the Bible and how it should inform our daily life. It became even more clear to us how a constant conversation with God nurtures our daily pursuit of each other. We re-learned how the pursuit of like-minded friendships are vital for a marriage to experience God’s love.
On our wedding day, we read the following portion of the Bible and couldn’t have imagined how God would use it to rebuild our marriage just a couple of years into it. It now serves as a constant reminder of how love isn’t about us. Love is about others and Jesus epitomized it.
As you read it, replace the word love with Jesus. I’ll explain later why Jesus.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
Jesus lived out this definition by choosing to sacrifice his comfort, his wants, and even his own life. He revealed how relationships can endure the ups and downs of life. The reason why our marriage fell apart was because we made it about ourselves, our careers, and our own desires instead of loving like Jesus. Marriage is about God displaying his love through two imperfect people becoming one for the sake of reflecting God’s unconditional love to the world.
Loving those who love us can give us a sense of control, as well as security from hurt, pain, and heartbreak. But if you want to transform your world, try loving those who’ve wronged you like Jesus did towards those who wronged him. Instead of destroying his enemies, he modeled how extending undeserved kindness and loving unconditionally changes situations. Where perhaps revenge, resentment, and bitterness may seem justified, by choosing God’s love, we unleash peace, joy, and forgiveness. Why do I share this with you?
After many hours of reinvesting time and energy back into our marriage, my wife and I saw how our individual actions and attitudes led to the breaking of trust. We quickly realized that love had become one of many subjects instead of a verb that empowered our marriage daily.
For instance, we were not being honest with how we truly felt about our careers. As simple as that sounds, it became a point of tension between us. She thought I was consumed with becoming famous while I perceived her as an obstacle in my path to success. We both harbored resentment, were slow to address it, which snow-balled into distrust and anger. This attitude placed us on a path to seek love in the wrong people, places, and things.
Our pride almost dissolved our marriage but because God is love, we’re now experiencing a renewed hope. You see, we tested the cautionary, loving words of God about the results of our selfish nature and it’s true, it leads to more brokenness. But God doesn’t stop there, he gives promises that reveal his love that lead us to his goodness, joy, and hope.
With that in mind, it would be very remiss of me not to point back to God’s love shown to us in the person of Jesus who died for us so we could have a relationship with him. This divine, selfless act has transformed the lives of billions of people for centuries and it saved our marriage. We found true love in God’s most selfless act. If you want to learn more about it, click here.
Oscar Castillo has served as leader of Yo Soy Segundo (I Am Second for Spanish audiences), co-authored Yo Soy Segundo the book, and continues as a thought leader and international speaker on leadership.
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