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The Best Advice

Today marks 7 months since I said yes to forever with my beloved. It’s been 2 years since Nelson asked me to pray about pursuing a relationship with him. And 19 months since we gained our parents’ and ministry leader’s approval to begin officially dating, with the intent of future marriage.  

I now see clearly what I didn’t see at the start of this journey. Destruction was inevitable if we followed the council of this world. The wisdom of the age ruins every possibility of a true, enduring love story. We see that all around us. 

Popular advice goes something like this…

Sometimes It’s ok to be selfish, to place your needs first, to stand firm on something. Relationships work when you both give 90%.

Dr. Gail Saltz, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Bestselling Author 

If someone begins treating you badly (after a commitment), you can’t change them but you can choose not to accept it. Instead of feeling like a victim of circumstance be empowered to reject bad treatment and choose a different person.

Dr. Wendy Walsh, Relationship Expert 

True love happens accidentally in a heartbeat, a single flash, a throbbing moment.

Sarah Dessen (emphasis mine)

Does true love really happen accidentally in a moment of high emotion? Does staying together depend on compatibility and choosing the right one? Do I have the  right to put my needs first and demand my way sometimes? If things start to get hard should I choose a different person? 

The fact that communication doesn’t come naturally made for a rough start. All relationships require work and love isn’t warm and fuzzy all the time. Learning to love someone well is much the same as learning a foreign language, it requires constant effort (doing both simultaneously is a whole new level of interesting!). 

Over a late night phone conversation in Haiti, I shared my discouragement and anxiety at seeing and hearing cross cultural marriages fall apart, advice I’d received to reconsider what I was getting myself into, and the troubles we’d been having leading to frequent conflict. Nelson, in his matter of fact-straighten up tone of voice said “Stop worrying about what everyone else says. We are not them, they are not us. I love you. I know God put us together. It is up to Him to make our love last a lifetime and He’ll do it if we ask Him.” 

From then on I cut off the channels where all the negativity was coming from and began searching the scriptures determined to work through all the cultural roadblocks and tension points together. It must have been two weeks that I would lay in bed at night putting off all distractions to read and pray for hours. 

Finally I found it, the greatest advice that would transform our relationship right there in the word of God, it is simple but powerful.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, forbearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2 
  1. Humility — having a humble opinion of oneself, a deep sense of one’s littleness. (Philippians 2:3; Colossians 3:12)
  1. Gentleness — of mild disposition, gentle of spirit, mildness. (Galatians 6:1; 1 Timothy 6:11; Titus 3:2)
  1. Patience — endurance, consistency, steadfast, longsuffering, slowness in avening wrongs. (1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:10; Hebrews 6:12)
  1. Forbearing in love — to refrain from the impulse to do (or say) something negative, out of love. (Proverbs 25:15; Colossians 3:13)

There was no incompatibility or finding “the one” nonsense. No pat on the back, it’s ok to be selfish, and honey you deserve better than this man who dares to be imperfect! I found nothing about the need for matching personalities or similar hobbies. I didn’t read of my right to be completely understood. What I found is that love is a choice. Love takes great humility. Love takes endurance, and that is the greatest relationship advice out there.  

How sweet our relationship has become as I have focused on these traits. As we have prayed together and trusted the Lord to lead us. As we have tuned out the voices of the world that say we are incompatible and we can never meet each other’s needs. It’s not easy. Humility is hard work! Anyone who says that love comes naturally and without effort, is a liar. 

True love doesn’t just happen in a single throbbing moment when you find your “soulmate.” Sometimes love forms in unlikely places. Always between two imperfect beings. By God’s grace I choose to love Nelson everyday and he chooses to love me.

2 Responses

  1. That is indeed, very sound advice. So many, even Christians, fail to understand this and struggle through marriage. Although the person you marry is one of the most important decisions you can make, if you are both loving the Lord more than each other, the marriage will grow and be all that God wants it to be, no matter what the circumstances. Distance, culture and nothing else matters as much as a love and obedience to the Lord. And that is what makes a Godly marriage work. To go into it knowing about this “work” is so wise and so seldom seen in this world! The world does not see nor understand this. How wonderful that God has shown you this now, as you are at the beginning of your journey. 🙂

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Hi! I’m Rachel. Through a series of God orchestrated events I ended up in Haiti, in 2017.  Through years of serving with a ministry there I came to love the country and its people. I met Nelson and we got married in 2020. It was the best decision of my life! 

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