My imperfections were glaring when I met my husband. At 19, I had already been divorced from an abusive man and endured indescribable difficulties. My young son had just turned one year old, and I assumed no one would ever truly love me. There was too much in my life that made me unworthy of love.
I was working in a grocery store, assisting in running the front end, when a new bagger came to clock in. He was quiet and unassuming, and by all appearances very young. When I asked, he told me he was 18 and had graduated from a local high school. Apparently (I don’t remember this part), I was gruff in my response, and the new bagger left thinking I was rude.
Every single day after that, I learned to love him.
This bagger, I soon learned, had always gotten good grades and had never been in any trouble. I could see why. He did everything right, it seemed. Unlike the other teenage boys we hired, he always showed up on schedule. His clothes were always pressed. He did everything management asked without complaint. I knew I wanted to marry him when I saw him being kind to an older gentleman who had some disabilities that was also a bagger. My bagger wasn’t stiffly polite and condescending. He was a friend who talked and ate lunch with the man.
Goodness emanated from him, and though I wanted to be close to him, I knew that I could never have him. I was too bad, and he was too good.
We started to hang around each other more and more, and others noticed our friendship. One young man I had gone to high school with told my bagger to stay away from me (while I was standing right there). The young man from school said I was nothing but trouble. I knew I deserved reproach and waited for it. My bagger said nothing.
One day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I told him that we had to go out. I waited for him to tell me no, but he said nothing. I told him what day and time (several days in the future) we would go and that I would not take no for an answer. He still said nothing. I took it as a good thing. He hadn’t said no. When the day came, I realized that I had timed it all wrong. He got off work an hour before I did, and I just knew he would sneak away.
He waited for me.
We went out. We have been together ever since.
It has been almost twenty years since that day, and I still love that bagger. Through his faithful love, I have been able to see a love that is even greater.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
I had struggled with feeling unworthy of the love of Christ because of my sin, but I finally felt confident enough to go back to church because a simple bagger had shown me that I wasn’t worthless. I realized my sin made me needy, not unwanted. A husband is supposed to love his wife as Christ loved the church, and my husband had accepted and loved a broken mess of a girl unconditionally. He had sacrificed to take me on and clean me up, nourishing me and cherishing me so that now, when people meet me, they assume that my life has always been the image of perfection. I have seen with my own eyes what a man’s love can do for an imperfect woman.
How much more can Christ’s perfect love do for an imperfect church?
My husband is not perfect, but I still think I am far more imperfect than he. One could never convince me otherwise. Still, I am thankful for this because I had to see us in this light in order to see Christ as He truly is.
Occasionally, I feel the hurt of those who try to criticize us for our imperfect marriage. I don’t mind it so much when others are critical of me. I only hurt when they condemn the one who loves me. Yet, I am sad for these accusers. They don’t realize that they are the same as I was–broken, unworthy, and seeking love from one much higher than them. Would they condemn Christ for loving them? How much it would hurt if Christ turned his back on the church because of their imperfections. Instead, he loves them. If they considered it, our marriage would give them hope. One day they can be an imperfect bride to the only Perfect One.
So, let me encourage you. Rejoice in your imperfections, wives. Christ did not come for the perfect. He came to redeem the lost and broken. He loves sinners. Those will be His bride.
You don’t need to be ashamed with Him (or before others) because He loves you with a perfect love. Rejoice, for our bridegroom is coming for you in all your imperfections. You are worthy because He is worthy.
Amanda (who found out many years later that her name actually means “worthy of love”) has been married to Rick, a grocery man turned preacher, for almost 14 years. She still considers him to be the most Christ-like man she has ever met, even though she knows a whole lot more about his imperfections now. They have two boys who are now in college, and one girl still being homeschooled in 7th grade. You can find the whole family at fundamentalhome.com, their rather new blog, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Rick and Amanda also post a Couples Bible Study every Tuesday night on YouTube.