Whether young or old, yesterday was a happy day for those in love. On one end of the spectrum you have Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher of North Carolina. They’ve been married 86 years! What’s their advice for a strong and happy marriage?
“Respect, support and communicate with each other. Be faithful, honest and true. Love each other with ALL of your heart.”
That sounds right to me.
Then there is Stephanie Hull and US Air Force Captain John Wu from Louisville, Kentucky. They were just married yesterday atop the Empire State Building. Today is the first day of the rest of their lives together.
But what about those who find themselves in a very different and difficult season of life?
Barry Teague is a friend of mine and a longtime faithful supporter of Focus on the Family. Put simply, he is one of life’s good guys, and over the years Jean and I have enjoyed Barry and his wife, Carol’s, friendship.
Valentine’s Day was bittersweet for Barry. That’s because his beloved Carol died only a few weeks ago from complications of chemotherapy. The day after her promotion to eternal life, Barry sat down to write a short email message to friends. I wonder if his words move and convict you as much as they do me:
Carol died yesterday. My wife, my best friend, my lover, and my soul mate. I never once doubted her love and her loyalty. She never demanded anything of me. She trusted me, and she had confidence in me. She gave me space; she never attempted to confine me, and we never had a major argument. We never had an argument about money. She knew me better than anyone, and knew what I was thinking. We had so many good days, good weeks, good months, and good years together. God blessed our marriage enormously. Neither of us was ever unfaithful during our 38 years of marriage. We never had a discussion of divorce. We were committed to each other. She was a Godly wife. She was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, aunt, and sister. I thank God for giving me a wife of noble character (Proverbs 12:4) and for letting me have her for 42 years (we dated for 5 years). Proverbs 31:12 was experienced in my life, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life”.
When we read such an emotional tribute, it’s only natural to ask probing questions of ourselves. Would our own spouse say the same of us? Are we putting our loved ones before selfish desire?
When you’re young and in love, you don’t necessarily think this, but age and wisdom tell me it’s true: loss is an important part of love.
As a complement to the Scriptures, when it comes to loss, the words and observations of C.S. Lewis have been a great source of comfort to many. As many of you know, Lewis’ wife, Joy Gresham, died of cancer after only a few years of marriage. Their love affair was brief but poignant. I will close with his powerful reflection on the subject of love and loss, as offered in his classic book, The Four Loves:
Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.