Can love last?

Sharie King

When I was a junior in college, I found myself homeless. The apartment I’d reserved before I left for a mission trip wasn’t ready when I returned. They mailed a notice, but since I couldn’t check it from Europe, I came home with one month to find a place to live.

My campus minister and his wife opened their home. I thought I’d only share their daughter’s room, but I became part of their family. They lived out their faith, loved each other, and resolved conflict. It was new for me to see a family flourish. For the first time, God ignited in me a hope and desire for marriage and family.

Maybe you grew up with this desire. I didn’t. My family experience — three marriages (per parent), single parent years, and sexual and emotional abuse — left me doubting a marriage could last. Why should I expect marriage to be filled with anything but disappointment and failure?

Determined to make life feel ‘normal,’ I took on extra responsibilities at home and tried to be the optimal student. Performance and perfection hid my insecurity and provided verbal affirmation from family and God. If I performed well, God liked me. If not, shame and good works made up for my failure.

I avoided dating, afraid God would be disappointed if I messed up in a relationship. Although I desired to love and be loved, marriage didn’t seem worth the risk of ruining my righteousness I’d worked so hard to ‘earn.’

We don’t have to perform to earn God’s love. It’s not something that comes and goes.

Do you see the missing link? The one that holds truth and love together? We don’t have to perform to earn God’s love. It’s not something that comes and goes, like my stepparents. Or my feelings of security. The fear I had that all love was fleeting was a lie.

In this confusion, God worked on my heart. Living with this family gave me faith for new hopes and dreams. After two years of healing and growing in knowledge of God’s love, I met my husband, Clayton. I was still guarded, but his kindness and love for who I was, not what I had to offer, broke down my walls.

1 John 4:18-19 reminds us: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. We love because God first loved us.”  

God allowed this girl (from dysfunction) and her husband (illegitimate and adopted) to love each other for more than a decade in a committed, thriving marriage. Only God's unconditional love could help us defy statistics. So we wrote a book together, "12 Questions to Ask Before You Marry."  If God could do it for us, He can do it for you!

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