Love is Not Proud - The Captivated Issue
We hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating gratitude with family and friends yesterday! Today we are sharing a full story from one of our earlier issues, The Captivated Issue, featuring contributing writer Bria Bolton Moore who has been featured in all of our magazines and moments captured by Jenna McElroy.
We are also offering 25% off on online orders with the code THANKS25. Order previous copies of Cottage Hill here!
You have probably heard the adage, “Prepare for the marriage, not just the wedding.” And chances are, if you’re reading Cottage Hill, you’re not a bride or groom who’s so enveloped in flowers and favors that you have lost sight of the big picture—your commitment to share your entire life with someone for the rest of your life. So while the phrase is often overused, we can’t shy away from its truth.
I got married on June 2, 2012, to my husband, Evan. He’s a physician; I’m a writer. He likes fishing and minimalism. I adore long, leisurely brunches and accessories. In many ways, we’re different. Our learning curve was steep. During our first year as Mr. and Mrs., I had (and let’s be real, I still have, unfortunately) a lot of expectations revolving chiefly around my own emotions. Just a few months after our “I dos,” I was looking forward to an evening at home decorating the Christmas tree together. I had built up our “first married Christmas” so much in my mind. I was picturing cookie decorating and holiday shopping and Christmas dates where we would stop for coffee at one of our favorite local shops before driving around the city in search of the best holiday lights. On this specific evening when I had planned for us to decorate the tree, Evan came home exhausted after an eleven-hour workday and was content to just be in the same room as me while I hung lights and ornaments. I lost it—tears showing my shattered expectations. The night ended with me sulking among the decorations while Evan retired to bed early. I was so rigidly absorbed in what I wanted, I couldn’t even consider Evan’s point of view, much less seek to understand his desires. To make a long story short, this was one of the first of many small personal “aha” moments that culminated in a big realization—marriage was exposing my selfishness.
Ricky and Bianca Jones met at a Bible study at Vanderbilt University where they were undergraduate students. In their 22 years of marriage, they have lived in four cities in five homes, had four kids and two dogs, and they’re on their third minivan. In other words, they have a lot more marital experience and wisdom than I. Ricky is the pastor of our church, RiverOaks Presbyterian Church. He has lead pre-marital counseling, pronounced couples husband and wife and also been a listening ear to husbands and wives working through the inevitable highs and lows of marriage. In many ways, Ricky and Bianca have had a front-row seat to countless marriages.
“Humility is being removed from seeing yourself as the center of everything,” Ricky said. “Single people never really experience humility, because they live like they’re the star of their own movie. So, they wake up when they want to wake up, they eat when they want to eat, they work when they want to work, they live where they want to live, they go to bed when they want to go to bed. When you get married, the first big splash is you can’t do any of those things. We do what’s best for us. That first lesson of humility is learning the world isn’t all about you.”
Without even hearing her husband’s comments, Bianca reiterated this message.
“It used to be you making decisions, and then as soon as you get married, no decision is exempt from what your spouse thinks.”
“Selfishness sounds bad,” Ricky said. “It sounds like a child saying, ‘I want my candy.’ But, it’s a way of seeing the world from your eyes instead of seeing yourself as part of it.”
For many of us, we don’t even realize our bent toward self-centeredness. It’s not intentional or meant to be hurtful. We’re simply unaware of how our words come across or how we make our spouse feel. Marriage acts a mirror, revealing who we really are—the good parts and the pieces that need adjustment.
“It takes work to know your spouse and also to know yourself,” Bianca said.
“Your spouse shows you how you look in three dimensions, but you have to listen,” Ricky said. “If she says I’m hard to get a long with, I’m hard to get along with.”
When we admit and face our imperfections, our difficulty to get along with others or our need to make all the decisions, there’s room for humility.
“You have to embrace the cactus—the cactus being my own issue, my own ugliness,” Bianca said. “You have to embrace the cactus, hug it and say, ‘Yes, I am sometimes controlling,’ or ‘Yes, I do this thing that hurts my husband.’ When you say yes, that’s where humility comes in.”
One of the most common readings at weddings comes from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
The verses define love and point to love’s commitment to humility, to putting others before oneself.
“Love is not proud means that love does not assume that I’m the prize but seeks to prize the other person,” Ricky said.
So if you are engaged, congratulations on your upcoming union. As you prepare for marriage, anticipate sweet, unforgettable moments when you least expect them—over a random Tuesday night frozen pizza dinner or amid the pain of losing a loved one. Count on adventure and companionship. Prepare to learn about one another and shed selfishness. Seek to live in a way that says, “you before me.” Above all, savor joy and acceptance.