“Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself.” -Soren Kierkegaard
On my right forearm, the lyrics to William Fitzsimmons’ song “Maybe Be Alright” are tattooed. It says, “Love can last if you only let it grow…” I have tried to live my marriage in such a way that I do not hinder love, but let it grow, let it flourish.
I believe that way too often we do things that hinder love and hinder growth. I believe that Soren Kierkegaard is right on the money with his quote. I believe the number one thing we do that smothers love and growth in marriage is to try to alter the Beloved.
We do not stop to think about changing ourselves, but attempt to make the other person change in order to conform to our version of who they should be!
My wife and I were quick to rush into marriage and love. We brought a lot of unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors into our marriage that caused us to spend the first year of our marriage in a 5 month therapy separation and several months of counseling.
My wife is a very beautiful soul! She’s an old soul; she likes ancient things. That would probably explain our love of Orthodoxy and conversion to it. She has a deep sense of reverence towards God, towards people.
I realized soon into my marriage that there had to be a death….the death of myself and my selfishness, my control issues.
Very early on in our marriage I was not letting love grow; I was smothering it. Very early on I tried to control my wife and to alter her, my Beloved.
By the grace of God, we made it through that hellish first year in tact and much stronger for it. Looking back in retrospect, I am grateful for having gone through it all.
My Beloved has taught me humility, grace, and mercy every day since I met her. I knew when I met her that I would be in for a journey of trials to learn how to be as gentle as she is.
She is truly the strongest person I know because it is only the strong who can afford to be gentle.
She is like a dove soaring through the sky. She is like a daisy in the soft green meadow.
She has graced my brokenness with the gentleness of Christ’s love. She has applied the balm of His grace and mercy to my wounds.
My Beloved is my treasure. She has shown me the light of Resurrection in my darkness. In my marriage, she has brought me to humility by her grace, her mercy.
My Beloved is my precious fountain, a fountain from which I alone have drank. Her waters wash over me and refresh me.
I am not a very smart guy; I mess up daily in my marriage, but my Beloved’s grace and mercy is there to forgive me. She does not let me get away with things, but will hold me accountable. She knows my wounds and my flaws like no other, but yet, I can remain fully naked, exposed, before her love…and I fear not.
I know that her love shines brightly into the dark recesses of my heart. She causes me to stop and see myself how she sees me, sometimes it is bad and sometimes good.
She causes me to be introspective and how to alter myself.
Today is Valentine’s Day. A day when a Saint was martyred for his faith, but yet ironically marriage is about a martyr. Marriage is the martyrdom of your ego, false self, and horribleness. Steven Robinson wrote in his piece on Valentine’s Day, “Someone recently said of marriage that it is the only martyrdom in which you get to pick the instrument of your death. Of course it is not so much a physical death, though your physicality is a part of your sacrifice, but it is also the laying down of your ego, your self will, your time, your passions, your selfish desires… all the things that are ultimately harder to give up for the long haul than your physical life in a split second.”
My Beloved has shown to me the beauty of new birth, of self-denial, and of true love.
I have learned from my Beloved not to seek to change her, but to seek to alter myself or better yet to let Christ alter me. Her grace and mercy and beauty humble me everyday. I am often not good to remind her of her beauty and goodness, but I never forget it. Today I celebrate my Beloved and her influence on my life. I ask for the prayers St. Adrian and St. Natalie, who are the saints of our home and marriage.
I want to say to my Beloved: I love you and I am eternally grateful for the impact you have had on my life. I recall praying for my wife way before I met her. I remember driving home to VA for breaks during my freshman and sophomore years and wondering what she was doing. I remember sitting in my car on those trips looking over at the empty seat and hoping that I would have someone beside me one day.
I knew that the person who would be beside me would be of great love and mercy, but I had no idea she would be so delightfully beautify and loving. I am excited for what the future will hold for us as God brings us into new stages of life. I am excited to see her become the mother of my kids. I will join them in praise of her and her beauty.
I am glad it is with my Beloved that I can look at myself and humble myself to learn and grow.
As Solomon said, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”
I love you, Courtney Anderson, my yellowbird, my Beloved.