Falling In Love With Jesus (and Your Husband, Too)
Note: In this issue, Dee takes a look at the three love stages that most husbands and wives experience. These three love stages can also be seen in our relationship with our heavenly Bridegroom. “The book of Ephesians says it is a mystery,” Dee says, “but marriage is a dim foreshadowing of a much deeper love relationship—our love relationship with our eternal Bridegroom. So often we settle for a ho-hum relationship with God when he longs for us to be abandoned to him. I always remember thinking Scarlett O’Hara was so crazy to throw away a passionate, exciting man like Rhett Butler for a weakling like Ashley Wilkes, but I realize that we do the same thing. We go looking for love in all the wrong places when we have a perfect Bridegroom just waiting to take us higher.”
The Three Stages of Love
by Dee Brestin
I’ll never forget falling in love with my husband. I was 18, a freshman at Northwestern University, and when I saw him in “Human Behavior,” I discreetly chose the row in front of him, hoping he might notice me. How I remember the thrill I felt when he leaned forward and said, in his deep masculine voice, “I’ve run out of paper—do you have any paper?”
I knew this was a very good sign.
After class he caught up with me, stopping me on the sidewalk in front of Deering Library. “Thanks for the paper,” he smiled. “I’m Steve Brestin.”
I was so excited and nervous I was actually shaking. “Oh, the wind from the lake is going right through me,” I lied. Immediately he took off his trench coat and tenderly put it around my shoulders. I nearly swooned. After that he asked me out, and I floated back to the dorm. On our first date he turned out to be more than I had even hoped. He drew me out in conversation with caring questions. He had a laugh that filled the room. He was gallant: helping me with my coat, running for the car door, gently sliding my chair under me. That night I told my roommate: “That’s the man I’m going to marry.”
On our second date we went to a sorority Valentine party. We were assigned to come as Paris and Helen of Troy. I was so smitten I could hardly breathe. I was amazed someone so wonderful seemed to care so much for me.
During our courtship time, I would wake up in the morning, and before I was fully conscious, think: Something wonderful is going on. What is it? Oh! It’s Steve. I could hardly wait until I would see him, hear his voice, and have his arm around me.
Never in my wildest imagination did I expect to have those same feelings, three years later, when Jesus found me and made me his own. But I did! I would wake up in the morning, and before I was fully conscious, think: “Something wonderful is going on. What is it? Oh! It’s Jesus. He’s real. He’s not just a historical figure from the past. He’s God. He’s alive. He loves me. And he may intervene in my day.” I was in my euphoric first love time with Jesus.
I married Steve on the first day of spring a little more than two years after we met. It didn’t take too long to move into wilderness love. I had always thought that if I married a wonderful man, the emptiness in me would be gone. But life seemed so repetitive, so boring. I remember one night telling Steve, “You are not meeting my needs!”
Tenderly, he asked: “What are your needs?”
“You should be able to figure that out!”
I would become angry with Steve for the most trivial things. That summer we were at my parents’ cabin in Wisconsin where he tried to water ski. When he didn’t succeed, I was impossible. I thought, “How can he be so unathletic?” That afternoon he told me, “Honey, I just don’t think itÕs my sport.” I folded my arms and steamed, thinking, “I can’t believe I’ve married a man who cannot water ski.”
I was immature, petulant, and difficult. Yet, though I didn’t deserve it, Steve kept on loving me.
On a spiritual parallel, when we first come into a relationship with Jesus, everything is rosy. But as time passes, we realize that life is still difficult, there is still pain, and though our heavenly Bridegroom could snap his fingers and make it go away, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he doesn’t do what we want him to do.
Jesus longs for us to trust his heart in the wilderness—especially when he doesn’t make sense.
The wilderness is not about circumstances; it’s about attitude. Circumstances in this life are going to be difficult through all three love stages, for just as Jesus promised, “in this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). But in the wilderness, we stop trusting our bridegroom’s heart. We withdraw. We lose the passion of the first love time. We are immature, petulant, and difficult. Yet, amazingly, and though we do not deserve it, Jesus still loves us.
Many couples never make it into the land of invincible love. Instead, they settle for occasional picnics in the wilderness. But that is not God’s heart for us. He longs to bring us into the land of invincible love.
Steve and I came to Christ early in our marriage—but we didn’t immediately move into the land of invincible love with each other or with Jesus. It took time, trust, and obedience.
About seven years into our marriage, I realized that Steve and I had moved into the land of invincible love. I trusted his heart even when I couldn’t quite understand why he did some things. My heart still did flip flops when he walked in the door. Steve and I were blessed with 39 years of marriage before he recently lost his valiant battle with colon cancer.
Losing Steve has been the greatest challenge of my life, yet I am not going to back away from God—for though I do not know why he took Steve, I do trust God’s heart. I continue to pray through the psalms. The psalms of thanksgiving and praise were hard for me, but I could fully enter into the psalms of lament. These psalms help you hang on to God and to talk to your soul when life is full of sorrow. I believe I will always hurt, but I also see that my soul is being enlarged. I am more empathetic to the pain of others, I am more aware of what really matters, and I am eager, truly, for heaven.
The land of invincible love is not a land that is free of trouble—but it is a land of confidence. It is a place where you trust the heart of your Bridegroom and where you know that, no matter what happens, his love is here to stay.
Devotions with Dee
First Love: Read Luke 10:38-42
What do you learn about Mary of Bethany?
What was her attitude toward Jesus?
Why did he praise her? How is Martha’s attitude different?
Wilderness Love: Read John 11
Note how Jesus approaches each sister.
How do his words or his actions endeavor to help each of them trust him in this difficult time?
Invincible Love: Read John 12:1-8
Describe Mary’s actions and how they are indicative of a person who has reached the stage of invincible love.
Dee Brestin first became known as “the friendship lady” when her classic book, The Friendships of Women, became an instant bestseller 20 years ago, selling over a million copies. What made this book stand out from others was the insight Dee had into what Scripture had to say about women’s friendships. Dee’s award-winning Bible studies have been translated into many languages, and her ministry has continued to change lives through her insight into the Word. She recently teamed with recording artist Kathy Troccoli to write a trilogy on approaching Jesus as our Bridegroom: Falling in Love with Jesus, Living in Love with Jesus, and Forever in Love with Jesus.