The month of February in our house comes without a whole lot of pomp and circumstance. We celebrate the snow probably more than we celebrate anything. However, every year when about February 12 rolls around, I think, “Maybe we should do something for Valentine’s Day. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to get some presents? But presents cost money. That’s not good. Well, dinner then. Ooooo—what if it was at a fancy restaurant and we got all dressed up? That would be exciting! And what if there was a horse-drawn carriage ride, or a singing telegram guy, or . . . yes, that’s it, what if there were diamonds?!!!!”
So goes my internal dialogue. You might think it sounds silly, but I guarantee you I’m not the only one. Part of it is culturally driven, while part of it is our internal psyche.
We want to know we are loved.
People can shows us love through many different means—gifts, a foot rub, doing the dishes, helping with homework, saying kind words—and we return those gestures. Relationships that build up are important. It’s how God intended His Body to work, caring with and for one another, loving our neighbor and loving our spouse.
However, there is one little mistake in all of it that tears quietly at the fabric of marriages and relationships. It’s like the pinprick hole I found in our leather couch: not a big deal at all, hardly noticeable to someone not looking for it, until I turn my back and my puppy finds it. Now my couch hole is gaping like a fresh wound, and I wonder how in the world I’m even going to begin to restore it. The mistake we so often make in our romantic relationships, and even friendships and family relationships, is failing to identify the difference between love and glory.
We want people to fill us.
We want our spouse to be all we need them to be, to find us attractive, but not bug us too much, to work hard and provide or keep the house organized and steady, but be available when we ask for something else, to know just the right words to say and when to keep their mouth closed and just listen.
We want to walk away from any given conversation, sexual experience, or even mealtime with our spouse and feel full of love and care and a sense that all is right with the world. We see the cultural pressure for this in the gloriously large prom invitations and the Facebook posts about a spouse’s gift or thoughtfulness that rival a romantic novella.
But fulfillment isn’t our spouse’s job. That’s Jesus Christ’s.
The presents, the words of affection, the grand idea of completing my sentences, and the sweeping romantic gestures aren’t really love. They’re glory. They make us feel good. They make us feel full. They are good, but they can’t hold the weight of our need. Only God can.
Psalm 72:18–19 clarifies this concept:
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen!
The earth was surely meant to be filled with glory. We were meant to be filled with the glory of God’s name, in the person and work of the Holy Spirit. The Son sent us the Spirit so that we would be full. No person can do this for us.
When we find ourselves looking for something from our spouse, particularly grand gestures, we can ask ourselves:
Am I looking for love, or am I looking for glory?
Do I want to have a relationship? Or do I want to be noticed?
When we receive grand gestures or even have conversations with our spouse that leave us feeling full, we can give all glory to God. He places these people in our lives. He gives us all we need for each day.
God is the filler. He sent His Son into this world to die and rise for me. I am full. The glory belongs to God and to God alone. His goodness, His mercy at the cross, fills me, and that is more than enough to know I am valued and I matter on this planet. Now I can share love freely with my spouse, my family, and my friends, and leave fullness and glory to God’s work. He does it so well.