My Kind of Love
I have noticed over the past five years of marriage that a lot of people give my husband credit for putting up with a wife that has a disability. There is always an undertone when people speak of my marriage. They say things like, “He really is a good man to overlook everything.” Or “Well, if he doesn’t mind that you don’t have a leg I guess its no one else’s business”, and my personal favorite and most frequently heard, “I’m glad you were able to find someone that could love you for you and not for what you look like.”
These comments can be said with good intentions but sadly they are also very hurtful. The existing presuppositions always point to me not being worth enough. It saddens me in so many ways to see that our society places so much value in ability. The rule of thumb in society seems to be: Our worth is in our ability and physical looks.
When I met my husband I wasn’t looking for anyone to share my life with. I had been through dating several men and most of those scenarios ended disastrously for me. My career was going well working as a contractor for DuPont in Wilmington, DE. I had my own apartment, money, and everything else a single woman could ask for. I had finally become happy with my life and made the most of every day.
When Rick and I started dating we stayed together because we complimented one another. Both of our lives were enriched because we were together. He was in a very difficult place with his family and his finances when we met and together we started making goals for improving his life. We both had a future in mind and goals in our hearts that we were working towards separately. After dating for a few weeks we began to realize how these goals were alike and how well we connected talking about our dreams and plans for the future. As we encouraged each other we realized that our dreams were really intertwined as one dream. While pushing one another towards greatness we had really pushed ourselves together in love.
For us, we fell in love so strongly that we knew we were meant to be together. Within three weeks of dating we discussed love, marriage, and a future. Our feelings for one another were so strong that there was no denying it was meant to be. After hearing so many say “when you meet the right one you will know” I can finally confirm the degree of truth in this. Yet the path forward wasn’t all peaches and cream because we both had wounding in our hearts from the past.
It was a friend of mine, Sharon, who spoke directly to the insecurities in my heart. She explained that every person on earth has the potential to hurt us at some point. She explained that putting our trust in people (including a future spouse) is not God’s design. God’s design is that we place our trust in Him! When my heart is in God’s hands He is responsible for what happens to me and for helping me clean up any wounds, breaks, or bangs that may come along the way. I may be disabled but as long as my belief is in Him who is able then I am free to love the man in front of me transparently.
“Listen to this wise advice; follow it closely, for it will do you good, and you can pass it on to others: Trust in the Lord.” Proverbs 22:17-19
“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12
Through this I realized that love was not about my ability or Rick’s ability to meet my needs. Love stands alone as it seeks only the heart of another. The world falsely manipulates us into believing that love must be tied into physical looks and physical strength. But from my experience it is so much easier to allow God to be your strength and determine that you will complement your spouse’s life with love and not take from it with your own needs.
I really do not like the way that our society judges couples and seeks out “which is stronger” in relationships. We often hear in our circles, “How did he land that beautiful woman?”, or “I just can’t see why she stays with him she could do much better!” But all we are doing when we entertain these words is placing a measuring tape of ability and holding others up to it for judgment. Oh how I wish that we could do away with this tape of measurement altogether. Why must someone be weak and someone be strong? Why must one be more attractive than their partner? Why must someone be able and someone disabled? Marriage is about love not about ability. Life is about love and not ability.
Going to the beach is one of the greatest struggles that I face because of these standards our society boasts. The beach has always been one of my favorite places but I cannot say since being an amputee at the age of four that there have been many carefree memories spent there. As a married woman I long to have my husband be able to consider me a “trophy wife” and have a wife on his arm that others look at and nod in approval. Instead, when we go to the beach and I look around I see that others will stop walking to stare, point, and grab the attention of their peers to objectify me when they see me in my bathing suit. Being an amputee, in order to get in the water I have to walk down to the water with my crutches and get into the water to sit while my husband takes my crutches back to the blanket. While I wait for him to come back people stare in wonder, amusement and sometimes even shaking their head with disapproval.
But time and again as I sit there in the water waiting for my husband to return (with my heart pounding in my ears and my body trembling with embarrassment) I look up apologetically at his face only to be amazed. Rick’s crystal blue eyes always seem so oblivious to what is happening around us! He stares at me with sparkling eyes and a huge smile as he excitedly says, “Ready to swim?!” He is so focused on the love that we share together that he doesn’t even see the others or the faults in my figure that they see!
Once I asked him about this in exasperation and tears. I demanded to know why he is never affected by those around us when he must see how blatantly ugly I really am through their actions towards me. He replied simply, “Oh, well, they don’t know you. They don’t see how beautiful you really are that far away.” Rick sees love as it stands alone. He sees beauty from the eyes of our Father in heaven. He does not see ability as a measure of standard.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
“Where there is a will there is a way” has been pounded into our heads since grade school. But do we really believe it? There is a way to accomplish any task and I believe that the way it gets done doesn’t interfere with love one bit. Yes, there are times when Rick will do things to help me physically because he loves me. But he certainly doesn’t love me any less if I do them myself in a different way than another woman would!
As we creep up on our sixth year together I am delighted to say that our love is more real now than it was when we were married! Time has slowly purged a lot of the negative standards of society from my mind as I embrace and receive the love that is before me. Love takes on an entire new dimension when we look beyond the surface and see the heart of an individual. Who is to judge what that journey should look like? Every journey is unique and every journey is beautiful.
Looking at your own relationship with your spouse do you see love alone? Do you see how you were brought together to complement one another and add to each other? Do you see strengths and weaknesses, dos and don’ts, beauty and ugliness? Make a commitment to shatter this false belief today.
Focus on love as it stands alone; all the rest will fade into oblivion.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 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