Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1Peter: 4-8

Plopping myself down in my overstuffed “quiet time chair” in my office, I was as quiet in my spirit as a fearful child riding a rollercoaster. Not at all. I was allowing my rollercoaster emotions to get the best of me as I vacillated from feeling tearfully sad, to resentful and downright angry.

Why? Because after my husband had been out of town for most of the workweek, he was now spending the weekend with hundreds of his West Point alumni watching a championship rugby final. I was fine most of Friday, Saturday, and even Sunday morning as I looked forward to his promise of getting home early so that we could spend most of the day together. It was now 4pm and he finally called me to tell me he was starting his three to four-hour journey home. No mention of his earlier promise. No apology. Just highlight after highlight of the match and his connections with his friends. I admit it…I was jealous of his passion for rugby and that he had chosen it over me many times in the last seven years.

It’s rather ironic that for many years, I embraced, even craved “alone time”. I am never bored. I always of have lots of things I want to do. Writing – a very solitary task – is one of them. But since our marriage went through a rocky patch a few years ago, I am very mindful of how easy it is to grow apart. When I was finally honest with God and myself, I realized that I was letting feelings of rejection and fear drive me. So, I took a deep breath and offered this prayer to God:

Lord Jesus, How am I to love and respond to Lew despite my emotions? I don’t want to be a wife that keeps score or withholds love and affection when I’m hurt or angry. How can I love Him in ways that deepen his love for me?

As I was praying, my sweet Pyrenees/Poodle mix, Bella, a 70-pound bundle of curly white fur was laying at my feet. As I continued to pour out my hurt and disappointment to God, He gave me a reminder of how Bella greets us whether we are gone for one hour, one day, or one month. It is always with complete enthusiasm and abandon. She is always delighted to see us and never pulls a passive-aggressive “you owe me” attitude. She simply runs to us with tail wagging and does a doggy happy dance that often lasts two to three minutes. Then, she won’t let us out of her site for an hour or so following us from room to room and sometimes pawing at us; her love language for physical attention.

I could hear God speaking to my spirit: “So Danna, can you greet Lew like Bella greets you despite your hurt and disappointment?” Ouch. Holy Spirit conviction descended on me. “Wow, that takes a lot of self-control and tongue biting, Lord”.

“Yes, it does my Love,” He replied.

I decided to open my Experiencing God devotional for May 1 as I pondered just how I could be more “Bella-like” when Lew got home later that evening. This is what I read:

“We are to love our spouses not as they deserve, but as God commands.”

 “Oh Lord, that is so like You to make today’s devo pertinent to my today,” I wrote in my journal. I prayed that He would tell me how I could love Lew in ways that deepened our connection. This is what He told me:

Love him with childlike abandon without any scorecards or emotional bank accounting. Let Me love you and fill your heart to overflowing so you never withhold love because someone is not loving you as fully as you desire. You will be amazed how unconditional love will reach deeply to his core.

 Sigh. I could not argue with that. As I let go of my self-focused hurt, I could literally feel God’s peace washing over me. I knew if I remained surrendered to the Holy Spirit, He would give me just the right words and expression when Lew got home.

I looked down at Bella, still at my feet. “Hey, girl”, I said affectionately. “Thanks for being such a good role model! You deserve a treat and a walk. Let’s go!”