I will never forget the moment I realized I needed eye glasses. I was sitting in my college orientation class copying notes from the blackboard when all of a sudden, everything on the board was a blurred mess. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t bring anything into focus.
When I went to the optometrist, he told me that I had Astigmatism. In other words, the shape of my eyes had changed, and this caused light to be misdirected onto my retina, causing blurred images. He gave me a prescription for my first complete pair of eye glasses, which consisted of two lenses in a frame. When I tried on my brand new glasses, it was like I was seeing the world for the first time. Everything was clear, sharp, and beautiful. It’s amazing how acuity affects how we perceive beauty, and in much the same fashion, when it comes to love and marriage, we must have a certain level of clarity.
The Lenses of Love
In no way will I even attempt to articulate the meaning of this vast and convoluted thing we call love. Nor will I try to deceive you into thinking that I have attained a certain apprehension of the laws of love. One need only pick up the treatise by C. S. Lewis called The Four Loves, to really understand how deep the rabbit hole of love goes.
I would, however, like to submit to you an unusual consideration. It occurred to me, while contemplating love and marriage, that my eye glasses and my marriage have quite a bit in common. You may be wondering how. Well, they both have a frame and two lenses. The frame of my marriage is love, and the lenses of love are compassion and calibration. Compassion and calibration work together to provide the perfect image of love in marriage.
The Lens of Compassion
1 John 4:8 reads, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” We are all familiar with the side of God that loves. We are constantly recipients of that love daily, even when we’re unaware of it. As a result of that love, compassion is not a foreign concept to us. When the average person thinks of Jesus Christ, and how he loves, the most salient aspect of his personality is compassion. It is the overwhelming sense of wanting to help others. Compassion is a sympathetic response to someone else’s needs. When we say “I love you,” at some point it must love must validate itself by action. In the frequented script of St. John 3:16, God so loved, and the corresponding action was…He gave.
Our motive in marriage should always be to give to each other. If each person in the marriage is primarily concerned with meeting the other person’s needs, then it creates an atmosphere of security in the home. We should be able to detect when something is wrong with our spouses. The lens of compassion helps us to perceive the void and then move into action.
The Lens of Calibration
The second lens of love is that of calibration or correction. We all need recalibration at some point in our lives. Correction can be a sensitive topic among husbands and wives. Methods of correction can vary from external consequences, to internal resolution. In the sphere of marriage, correction should be approached from the standpoint of calibration. As a mature adult, we should consistently aspire to improve in all areas of life. Growth must be intentional. Relationships have an uncanny way of sparking growth in areas of our lives that would otherwise be inaccessible. Sometimes, the only way we would know if a personal trait or habit was undesirable is if someone we were in relationship with brought it to light. Certain traits may be harmless to you, but to others they can be afflictive.
Marriage facilitates a certain level of correction or calibration, because it forces us to consider another person in all that we do. Life is no longer all about you. You now have someone in the passenger seat.
My wife and I have a “No Judgement Zone” type marriage. We are so serious about that until we made it part of our marriage vision. We promised each other that we would always allow room for honesty (in love). We talk about everything from what made us laugh that day, to what made us angry. We talk about the things that we adore about each other, and the things that need correction or “recalibration.” Since the correction always comes from a place of love, we both internally resolve to modify those behaviors within ourselves. My wife is literally my best friend.
Love is like a complete pair of eye glasses. The two lenses are compassion and calibration, and love is the frame that holds it all together. Correction without compassion makes the heart obstinate. Conversely, compassion without correction spoils the heart. When we put on complete and perfect love, we are able to see our spouses the way God intended for us to see them, as Christ sees us. This is perfect love, and perfect love removes all fear.