“Stolle-en” Moments: “I Don’t Need Valentine’s Day…”

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This week, we observe Valentine’s Day — a day when we celebrate our love for one another. But I don’t need Valentine’s Day to remind me of these truths:

Shelley Stolle (Photo provided by the Stolle family)

I love my wife. It’s true. I know it to the core of my being. I don’t ever wonder if I do. I don’t ask anyone if they think I do. I don’t need to wonder or ask. I know, I do.

I know she loves me too. I don’t have to ask her if she does. It’s obvious.

Yet, as I revisit 1 Corinthians 13, I am challenged by verses 4 and 5 (NLT):

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.”

This hit me really hard today as I began thinking about my life with Shelley. If I asked her if she ever felt I’ve been impatient, she would say “Yes. ”Unkind?” Yes.” Rude?” Yes.” Wanting my own way? “Yes.” Irritable? “Yes.” You get the point.

A younger Shelley and Tom enjoying a dance. (Photo courtesy of the Stolle Family)

I cherish every day of my more than 30 years of marriage with Shelley. However, on all of those days in all of those years, I haven’t always been my best. Some days are really good, but others are challenging. In life, we encounter difficulties. When things don’t go how we want, expect, or hope, we are affected. At times, we can manifest this in negative behaviors toward others. There have been days when I have been impatient, not as kind as I should have been, rude, selfish, and/or irritable. There are times when I’ve displayed all of this toward Shelley. Even though I love Shelley and try to be a great husband, there are moments in which I fail. It’s the human condition. We are impacted by sin. I believe every married person on our planet would say the same thing, or at least think it if they were unwilling to admit it. We all fall short of God’s standard.

Many of the men I know who are married may say things like, “I love my wife. I’m a good provider. I’ve been faithful. I’ve never cheated,” and on and on. If so, that’s great; however, we don’t get bonus points for that. We are supposed to do those things.

God expects us to grow in our love for our spouses. We should draw closer to God and our spouses. We should try to be more patient and more kind while also striving to be less rude, less selfish, and less irritable. We must take responsibility for how we treat our spouses.

Loving each other is a process, and our love should grow over time. Do I love Shelley more today than I ever have? I sure do!  No doubt! Have I arrived and at all times meet the Biblical standard of 1 Corinthians 13 verses 4 and 5? Nope, but I’m growing and trying. I really am. I’m thankful that Paul writes these words later in chapter 13, verse 11 (NLT):

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

 I’m still growing. I’m still learning. I’m still improving. I’m not a finished work, Jesus is still molding me, refining me, and remaking me.

Tom and Shelley today, after over 30 years of marriage. (Photo courtesy of the Stolle family)

Through all of the molding, refining, and remaking, I thank God that I don’t journey this life apart from Shelley in that process. She is right there with me, loving me, supporting me, and growing with me. Are we perfect? No. Are we growing? Yes. Do we love each other? Yes. Is God finished with us? No, but I am thankful to God that he allows me to be on this journey with the most wonderful woman I have ever met — my wife and my best friend Shelley!

I pray that you continue to grow in your relationships with those you love. God designed us for relationships, and caring for those relationships His way is the best way!