What I Have Learned in 50 Years About Love and Life

By on April 1, 2014

By Gina Burgess –

Burl Cain, warden for Angola Prison in Louisiana, once said that no earthly thing can change a man, only Jesus can. He became warden over a prison that was once called the bloodiest place on earth. Back in the fifties and sixties, no one came out of there alive, and no one served their full term. This gutsy man proved that only Jesus can change a man or woman’s heart. I learned that the hard way.

Foremost lesson is what I learned from the study of Nehemiah:  Bring everything to God before any action takes place. Paul backs that up, too. The second is like it: Bring anger promptly before God and lay it at His feet before the first word passes the lips. It will save lots of heartache and keep relationships whole. I cannot say that I do this all the time. I am impetuous and stubborn. Imagine that! However, when I do follow the above, I have found that I can give God glory rather than embarrass Him.

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There are other things that I have learned which seem almost obvious, yet the lessons were hard won.

  1. I do not believe the world’s assertion that there is ONLY 1 true love. Love is a choice. I know this for many reasons. (More on that in a bit.)
  2. More money only magnifies the character of a person. If the person has a bad character (lies, cheats, greedy etc) it will get worse. If he/she is generous, generosity abounds. If thrifty, then thrift abounds.
  3. The bad habits a boy has will get worse when he grows older. Once a person “gets away” with something they will get more daring stretching the envelope until caught or deeply mired in the quicksand of their own making. I watched this happen to someone who wound up in prison for his illegal escapades.
  4. Repentance sometimes brings the blessing of not having to pay the consequence of a sin, but more often than not, we do pay the consequences. Praise God, we do not have to pay the ultimate price since Jesus did this already on the cross.
  5. A woman will never change a man.
  6. A baby will never change a man.
  7. The only thing that changes a man is Jesus. If a man has no discipline before he’s married, he will have less discipline when he’s married. If a man loves Jesus and lives Christ-like, then marriage will magnify that, and children will magnify that. It is more desirable to have a man like this than to have one with no discipline. In other words Bad Boys remain Bad Boys and do not make good husbands, unless Jesus changes the man.
  8. There is no bottom to the depths of a woman’s heart that is in love.
  9. Just because a person says he loves Jesus does not mean that he actually does love Jesus.
  10. Minor Character flaws really do matter. If he lies to others, he’ll lie to you. If he steals from work, he’ll steal from you. If he is unfaithful to his work and to his boss, he won’t be faithful to you. If he is not a good money manager before marriage, he’ll be even worse after marriage because he’ll have your money, too. If he has bad credit before he marries, he’ll ruin yours after he marries you.
  11. When a man prays, keeps his word, reads his Bible, he may seem unexciting and dull. But, those are the kinds of men that are anchors in the storms of life. These kinds of men make great best friends and remain loyal throughout life. If his jokes are kind, if he is uncritical, if his friends are kind, honest and loyal then he will be the same kind of man 30 years from now.
  12. While there is breath, there is hope. A living dog is better than a dead lion.

After marriage…

Love is a choice, therefore Christians should not consider divorce an option. Getting up and looking at the person you’ve been married to for the past 5, 7, 10 years and thinking “I don’t like him much” is not a reason for divorce. It truly is a passing phase. When two people love the Lord first and the other second, there is no such thing as “growing apart.” It cannot happen. This growing apart is the result of selfishness.

God gave us a heart not of fear but of self-control. Exercise it.

It takes hard work and total commitment to keep a marriage healthy. When a couple decides to marry there is the conscious and deliberate decision to commit to one another. The love between husband and wife comes from God and with His nurturing, continues until death. When the couple lives as two individuals with selfish attitudes that leaves God out of the equation, this is when the marriage begins to fail. When the individual comes first before the mate…when the selfish desire takes precedence over the mate’s pleasure, then the death throes of the marriage begin. The only way a marriage will last is when both have a greater desire to please the other in everything rather than selfishly pleasing him or her self. Much like how we are supposed to be with Jesus—being more concerned about pleasing Him than ourselves.

However, there are covenant breakers such as, lascivious behavior, adultery, verbal/physical abuse, child abuse. When counseling doesn’t help and the behavior doesn’t stop, then pack the clothes and lock the door because those things are not “as unto the Lord” and God has no intention for us to continue in a life filled with that, after all, He divorced Israel over the same kinds of behavior. God intended dating to be like Song of Solomon, a courtship full of respect and excitement. I believe marriage to be like Psalms. Joy in one person to the exclusion of all others in that way. Being dependent upon the Lord for all things, and relying upon one’s mate to keep their covenant involves a great deal of trust.

When trust is betrayed, there is an essential requirement from God. One must forgive. That is a very hard thing to do. When two Believers marry, then divorce is not an option. You can depend upon heartache and pain when two people come together. That is part of our human nature and relationships. However, never allow the sun go down on anger Be angry, and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down upon your wrath, Eph 4:26 then absolutely Joy comes in the morning.

Self-control is part of the Fruit of the Spirit. It requires a great deal of self-control to live harmoniously with another person. God will guard our tongues as well as our thoughts if we ask Him to have control over them. It brings Him glory, and isn’t that what Christian living is about?

About Gina Burgess

Gina Burgess is the author of Refreshment in Refuge published by WestBow Press in 2011. She earned her Master’s in Communication in 2013. Since 1972 she has taught Sunday school, discipleship training, and Bible studies because God gifted her with the motivational spiritual gifts of encourager and teacher. To read more from her heart check out her blog at refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com, and her reviews of Christian writings at www.uponreflectionblog.blogspot.com.

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What I Have Learned in 50 Years About Love and Life