Tonight in my theology class, we were dissecting the gospel of Luke. Specifically, we were discussing the parable of the Good Samaritan. Of course I had heard the story a million times growing up, but I had honestly never given it too much thought. In the story, a man asks Jesus how to get into heaven (or something like that) and Jesus reminds the man of the Hebrew law that states to love ones neighbor as oneself. The man then asks Jesus "well, who is my neighbor?" To which Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The key here, which had previously sailed over my head, is what Jesus doesn't say. He does not tell the man who the neighbor is, but instead, how the man himself should be the good neighbor. Essentially saying don't worry about who you need to love, just love. Love everyone.
Here, my professor interjected saying that this is one of the key teachings of Jesus. The idea of loving everyone. Giving without receiving. Putting the other before the self.
This immediately made me think of my husband. Life has been hectic for us lately. I feel like we are under constant stress. There is never enough time in the day. Caleb often stay up past midnight working on homework. We are lucky to have enough time for a quick kiss and cuddle at the end of the day.
Because of all this stress and lack of down time, we often find ourselves quickly annoyed and angered. We argue more than I would like. I sometimes feel hurt by our lack of communication and Caleb often feels frustrated. It is hard on us as a couple.
One thing that I have recently been trying is the very thing Jesus was talking about. I try my very hardest to love Caleb, even if I don't feel like he is deserving at that moment.
We had a section of Collisians read at our wedding that mentions love, forgiveness, gentleness, and kindness. At the time, I probably did not understand what that meant, to continually give forgiveness and kindness. But I'm starting to see.
Caleb makes me annoyed or angry a lot. Probably on a daily basis. It is my human nature to want to express that anger. And before recently, I would. We would argue and eventually apologize, but both our days were ruined by the fight. After so many of these blow ups, I decided to do a little self reflecting. And I realized that while I cannot make Caleb stop being so fucking irritating sometimes, I can stop my primal response. I do not have to respond with anger. My mantra has become "Kindness."
I now try to be gentle and loving, despite how I may be feeling on the inside. And honestly, fake it til I make it. When Caleb is upset or hurt or angry, I remind myself that I can show my love for my husband most effectively in these moments by giving him grace and kindness and gentleness.
By no means is this easy. I constantly fail. It is hard to put myself second. It is hard to be patient and kind and gentle.
I am certainly NOT saying I put on a fake smile for my husband and never tell him how I feel. That is just as harmful as arguing. But when tensions are high, like they often are around here these days, I'm learning that the best thing I can do for my marriage is to love. Without discrimination. I let things go. I let my pride and ego go.
My professor also said something in this discussion of the Good Samaritan that really hit me. He said that we have absolutely no way of knowing if anyone loves us. BUT we are able to give all our love to everyone. The beauty is not in recieving love, but giving love. I certainly hope Caleb loves me, but that really isn't the point. The point, the thing that makes life worth living, is that I love him wholly and completely. There is something special, maybe even holy or sacramental, in that vulnerability. The whole idea of the dying of the self for the sake of the other. That's big, heavy stuff and it feels important to me.
So I never would have guessed I would have found such meaning and wisdom from the Bible. Especially not marital advice. But it has shown me that the constant grace I strive to give my husband is meaningful and beautiful.