By Andrea Lennon

Recently, I led a retreat in Southeast Arkansas. During the first session, I shared tidbits of information about myself. I told the ladies about Jay and communicated the fact that Jay and I will celebrate our 14th anniversary in June. As the words came out of my mouth, I thought, "Fourteen years - that's a long time!" As I continued to talk, my mind continued to process. I asked myself, "Am I old enough to be married for fourteen years?" I guess the answer to this question is "yes!" You may be thinking, "Fourteen years, that's nothing." Or, "Fourteen years, that is a long time!" All I know is that when the number 14 came out of my mouth, I was surprised.
As I think back to my wedding day, I remember the commitment I made - the commitment to love Jay for the rest of my life. I remember the passage of scripture that was shared just prior to Jay and I exchanging our wedding vows. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, New International Version)
I can share with certainty that over the past 14 years I have failed to live up to God's standard of love in my marriage. I have blown my commitment to love Jay more times than I care to confess. Like everyone else, my marriage has had its ups and downs. However, I can't help but realize that God has taught me at least one thing during my marital journey - the value of working hard at loving Jay.
On my wedding day, I would have said that love is more than a feeling. In my head I knew this statement to be true. As a 20-year-old, I knew a time would come in my marriage when love would not be accompanied by butterflies dancing in my tummy; however, I never really understood that there would be times in my marriage when I would have to work hard in order to love Jay. In turn, I never thought Jay would have to work hard in order to love me. I always thought love would come naturally. Fourteen years later, I smile when I think about my naivety. Daily, Jay and I are faced with the choice: Will we work hard at loving one another?
Recently, I met a friend for lunch. My friend and I discussed marriage and family issues. I shared with my friend one of the ways I work hard at loving Jay; I related that I pray and ask God to help me love him. One prayer that I voice in regards to Jay is, "Lord, help me to see Jay through Your eyes. Help me to love him with no strings attached."
As you think about your husband, I challenge you to work hard at loving him. Ask the Lord to help you love your husband with no strings attached. According to God's Word, this means that you will begin to know and live out of the truth that "love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."