By: Ted Harro
Imagine you were single and someone set you up on a date with their good friend.
“You’re going to love him/her,” they gush.
You feel skeptical. The last four people this friend threw at you were kind of meh.
What makes this person so special? you wonder.
Then you meet the mystery date. You immediately notice a confidence, a groundedness about them. It’s nothing close to arrogance. In fact, its primary feature is that this person is so at ease with themselves that they can completely focus on you. She/he laughs easily, including laughing at her/himself. You realize that this is what humility looks like, a kind of self-forgetfulness.
Little acts of service just keep popping up. Unlike other people you’ve dated, you can’t discern any agenda to these acts. This person isn’t watching you for your reaction. He/she isn’t accumulating chips so that he/she can cash them in later. Your date isn’t trying to be noticed at all. This person is just cheerfully doing what needs to be done.
You’re surprised by how unguarded your date is. They share freely about their lives in a way that makes you feel trusted. As a result, you find yourself more likely to trust them. They’re maybe the most real, unpretentious person you can ever remember. In a way that communicates strength, they’re vulnerable and open.
It doesn’t take long to realize what’s behind this person’s remarkable way of relating to you. They are completely centered on living with God and living for God. They’re safe in a scary world. They’re loved in a hostile world. They’re real in a posturing world.
Why wouldn’t you want to be with someone like that?
That’s who Jesus is. Jesus is simply the best example of self-giving love who has ever lived. He’s in a totally different class.
If you’re ever wondering what a great spouse looks like, look no further. A great spouse looks like Jesus.
But here’s the tiny problem. There aren’t many people, married or single, like Jesus out there. Too much of the time, we’re self-interested or guarded or we sit on our hands instead of serving those around us. Or all of that at once in a big, hot mess.
So what to do? Maybe we should embark on the journey of becoming that kind of person ourselves. The kind of person who is so full of inner goodness that they’re irresistibly attractive to those around them without even trying. The kind of person any spouse would love being married to.
That journey doesn’t start with feeling awful about ourselves, which is its own form of peculiar self-absorption. It starts by admiring Jesus, by hearing his invitation to actually become like him. That’s what he told his first followers they were all about – helping people learn to do the things that he did. He wasn’t speaking in hyperbole. He saw himself as the Master Teacher and us as his chosen students.
That’s a pursuit worth committing to as we start this new year.
- Pick a story from the life of Jesus that shows how he loves.
- Immerse yourself in that story. Notice especially how Jesus interacts with those closest to him.
- If you need inspiration, click here for a series of guided imaginative exercises on familiar stories about Jesus from the gospels. Use them to put yourself right into the story and perhaps see Jesus in new ways.
- One of my favorites is the story of how Jesus changes the trajectory of a wedding. You can find that one here.
- Don’t worry about applying whatever you notice to your own life and marriage yet. Just stick with admiring Jesus and notice any longing you have to be more like him.
- Share anything you notice with your spouse.