Let Your Love Be Large and Gentle
By: Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. - 1 Corinthians 13:4 TPT
He drops his dirty socks at the foot of the bed—every day without fail. She squeezes the toothpaste in the middle of the tube every time. He leaves the toilet seat up daily. She texts and checks social media during mealtime—every meal.
Pet peeves like these in marriage may seem like pebbles, certainly not boulders. But if couples start stacking them up emotionally, they can easily turn into mountains and walls. My husband and I have known couples whose minor annoyances eventually sent them to the counselor’s office on the edge of divorce.
Majoring on the minor is never a good practice for anyone, especially married couples. Am I saying ignore the pet peeves? That’s tiring. Fight about it? Obviously not. Is there sound truth in the familiar saying, “If it bothers you, it’s your problem”? Maybe, but more in the sense if it’s causing you undue stress. But none of those options sound totally promising in the case of pet peeves.
Of course, a wife could let the socks pile up, resulting in an empty sock drawer, a smelly room, and no clean socks for her husband. Or he could wash his own. And she could simply drop the toilet lid without a word—or with lots of words.
A husband could let his wife squeeze the toothpaste where she wanted—no words exchanged. Or join her in pinching the same place. And he could yell about the phone misuse—or hide her phone.
Hmm. Maybe there’s a better way. Small annoyances may or may not alter a marriage relationship. But some might classify them as “little foxes that ruin the vineyards,” as described in Song of Solomon: vexing jackals that burrow into flourishing vineyards and burrow under the roots. But an insistence on keeping our pet peeves as “pets,” tend to lead to more foxes and larger issues—like decaying plants or crumbling foundations. We obviously need to deal with them.
I love this devotion’s Passion translation of 1 Corinthians 13:4. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians shows us that Godly love is not a small commitment. It’s not a selfish endeavor, a rude behavior, a sometimes emotion, or an iffy character trait. Love is large. Hmm. And incredibly patient. It doesn’t fly off the handle with every minor irritation. Nor does it retaliate if change is slow. It knows how to speak truth without angry accusations.
Godly love results in gentleness and consistent kindness. Could we be so bold to say that it even knows how to build barriers around healthy vineyards? Maybe even trap those foxes before they start digging?
I could offer x number of ways to deal with pet peeves in marriage. But God already gave us 1 Corinthians 13. If married couples will commit to love large with incredible patience and to invite God’s supernatural love to invade their relationship with gentleness and kindness, they will find the motivation to seek answers. And God will give wisdom for the right solutions.
Talk about issues; pray about them; feel the other’s hurt, embarrassment, or frustration (especially in bigger problems than the ones mentioned above). Remember that pet peeves can be indicators of deeper, unresolved conflicts. Give up; give in; give over; and give above what seems “acceptable.” Get help if needed.
But commit to each other to live and love large—larger than small irritations or foolish arguments. Your relationship is a gift from God and is made for better things than that. Give space to your relationship and let it grow bigger with more love than you ever thought possible.
God is waiting to move those mountains—one pebble at a time. (And He will help you guard against any “foxes” too.)
Rebecca Barlow Jordan is a bestselling inspirational author and day-voted follower of Jesus who loves to paint encouragement on the hearts of others. After five decades of marriage, she and her husband are more passionate about marriage and family than ever. Rebecca has authored and contributed to over 20 books and has written over 2000 other articles, devotions, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. She is a regular Crosswalk contributor whose daily devotional Daily in Your Presence is also available for delivery through Crosswalk.com. You can sign up for Rebecca’s free ebook and find out more about her and her encouraging blog at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.
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