By Elizabeth S.
We had been married for a few years when I came down with a sudden, violent case of food poisoning. One moment I was sitting on the couch watching TV with my husband and the next moment I was in the tiny powder room with the door closed and was sending my dinner down the porcelain bowl.
A gentle voice on the other side of the door asked if he could help and I mumbled something in response. A moment or two later the door opened a little bit and an arm reached around to gently touch my shoulder while I sat on the floor. On the other side of the door my sweet husband was also sitting on the floor providing the only kind of comfort possible with the space limitations.
The love of my life exemplified the phrase, “in sickness and in health” with a sensitivity that warms my heart all these years later. This early example became a pattern of kindness throughout the years. Even after long days at work he’ll wash dishes or make me a cup of herbal tea because he’s learned that those things matter to me. By supporting my efforts to serve others he literally makes that service possible, even at the expense of his own comfort. He’ll eat leftovers for dinner while I take a carefully prepared meal to a family in need. Even during times of great physical or emotional struggle, his actions and words consistently prove his love for and support of me. He’s quick to explain that when I’m happy, he’s happy. But sacrificing his own needs for mine doesn’t leave him wanting; in fact, he’s learned to enjoy it.
But this kind of service doesn’t flow only in one direction; I gratefully seek to do the same for him. I’ve realized that real love involves showing and proving those feelings with action even when–especially when–it isn’t convenient or easy. I don’t remember everything my husband says but I know how he makes me feel and those feelings have transformed my life. Parts of my life before meeting him were painful and damaging, as life often is. Years of exchanging kind words, forgiveness and meaningful service with my dear husband has helped me to love deeply in a way that words alone cannot convey. This nurturing environment has healed my heart and helped me to be a more loving, supportive member of my family and community. It is easier for me to love and serve because I have received love and service. It is easier to forgive because I have been forgiven. I’ve learned by trial and error to observe the needs of others before extending service so my actions have more impact and meaning.
When a pebble is dropped into water, the ripples extend out infinitely. Such is the effect of love that spreads in waves impacting the world and neutralizing some of the negative influences. No kindness is ever wasted even if the immediate results are disappointing or not evident. My choice to extend help should not depend upon how I hope others will respond. They too are hurting and in need of patience. Surely, this type of learning and growth within marriage is part of God’s great plan for His children.