That advice is given to those who want to know how to keep their relationship strong. It may often come from couples who realized just in time that their own love had once cooled and thankfully was rekindled.
We often struggle in various types of relationships to hold on to the sweet, close times. Life so strongly comes along and wedges its way between people who were once perfectly attuned to one another. How can we keep this from happening? What can be done?
Never stop dating.
Be intentional about finding what brings a smile to that person’s face, and go out of your way to make it happen.
The couple who graciously agreed to let me use this picture from a few years back was certainly a shining example of this advice. Through cancer, strokes, unspeakable family losses, and health declines that most would find hard to comprehend, the light of love still shone so brightly between them. As this picture captured, they were beautifully intentional in showing their love and fierce devotion for each other. When God referred to the marriage relationship as demonstrating His commitment to us, I’m sure this is what He pictured.
I shared about them six years ago, and at that time, I had been preparing breakfast one morning when something caught my attention: I recognized a “little thing” as being something my Jesus had provided for me. In that moment I thought about what had happened over the past 30 years.
The beginning of this beautiful walk with God was often marked by moments of becoming keenly aware of some small thing, and acknowledging how sweet it was that Jesus noticed that and addressed it; of how touching it was to feel His presence in the otherwise mundane occurrences of life; of how different that awareness and closeness were from what I thought was an equivalent walk with God in my denominational upbringing and the years before the Holy Ghost came.
I was still amazed for years at the depth of His presence I had been allowed to know, when in the past, I had only read about and imagined such a true closeness. I knew this change had come because of the Gospel preached by the Apostles (Acts 2:38) which I was allowed to see as still being relevant today, and which would bring this power when literally obeyed. I knew that my doing so, by His grace and mercy, had brought all the difference.
When one person in a relationship who reaches out for a close, even intimate, moment is rebuffed or ignored, they often withdraw and become unreachable to the other party. We are formed in the image of God–not only our physical being, but our emotional make-up as well. God penned, through the hand of Solomon (Song of Solomon, chapter 5), the story of the maiden’s Beloved knocking at her door at a time she found it inconvenient to answer. By the time she decided to arise and open the door, her Beloved had withdrawn himself and gone.
I remember many tears rolling down my face once to read that story, and to understand the implications for the treasured walk with God I had been given: if the Spirit of God moved on me for prayer, for closeness, and my heart was “busy” and uninterested at the time, He could very easily move away and be unavailable when I found a “convenient season.” (Felix, who trembled at the preaching of Paul in Acts 24, and chose not to yield to what God was doing until a “convenient season,” never was recorded to have had God deal with him again.)
When God, through the prophet Amos, described Israel’s disdain for the feasts and solemn days He had commanded them to observe — times He had ordained for them to draw closer to Him — He said in that context that he would send a famine unto them, not for meat and drink, but for the hearing of the Word of the Lord. Please know that we don’t come to God when we decide to: we come when He draws us (John 6:44), or not at all.
Over time what changed for me was the recognizing what sweet things were being done, and the remembering that it hadn’t always been that way in my life. Taking the ones we love for granted is something we struggle with in every type relationship. We can even begin to believe we are the reason for our own success in situations where we would look pretty silly propped up by ourselves to make our own way in the world.
Remember. Recognize. Acknowledge. Look for God’s hand in the little things, and take time to thank Him. Talk sweet praises and loving phrases to the God who came to make everything new, and who walks in things both good and bad — for you. If you’ve never seen the truth of Acts 2:38 as it applies to your life, then seek to know God that way — don’t shy away because it represents something different than what you have known. For me, that seeking represented the beginning of something more beautiful than even I could have pictured at the start.
“Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, for thou has left thy first love.” (Rev. 2:4)
It need not be that way: Start dating again.
The sweet lady who shared the love I described in the beginning now cherishes that love in her precious memories. Her loss has been devastating. Yet, just today, as she was out of town to distract from the pain of this first Valentine’s Day without her cherished husband, the only One who could love her more gave her a sweet reminder of His closeness and deep care for her.
She shared how a stone with a message of encouragement was lying on the pier where she walked. The message said, “Be kind. Be good. Be strong. Be happy. Be you.” Ideas of how it came to be there are not necessary. It was placed in the path of one who needed to hear that message from Heaven today. Her choice to never stop loving the One who loves her most will pay off for ever and ever as He walks with her hand in hand through the days ahead.