As a kid, my favorite poster was that iconic image of Michael Jordan soaring from the foul line during a slam-dunk competition. "Be like Mike," it read. I sure tried. I bought the shoes. I practiced. I stuck out my tongue. And even though the only hoop I ever dunked had "Nerf" written on the backboard, I never stopped trying to be like Mike.
Boys of my age adored Jordan for countless reasons — his dunks, his jump shot, his ability to create plays. But the trait that made him the quintessential basketball player of the 20th century was his tenacity to win at all costs. I'll never forget Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. Fighting a terrible case of stomach flu, Jordan poured in 38 points, including the game-clinching 3-pointer. When Jordan collapsed into a teammate's arms at the end of the game, fans stood amazed by his courageous performance. The man played through pain.
Be like Christ
Years later, on my wedding day, a different sort of poster was slapped on my wall: The pastor admonished me to love Jen like Christ loved the church. I vowed to try. But as much as I wanted to "be like Christ," I'm not sure I knew what that meant.
Scripture shows us that no one played through pain like Jesus. Peter, who traveled with Jesus for three years, pointed out this quality to a young church struggling under the pain of persecution: "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. . . . When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats" (1 Peter 2:21,23).
Play through the pain
Christ loved His bride (the church) to the point of suffering for her. When the people He loved abandoned Him or betrayed Him, He stayed in the game. That's a tough model to follow. Men might be willing to play hurt on the court, on a battlefield or in the boardroom, but when it comes to marriage, we like the feel of the bench.
I can't be the husband God designed me to be unless I'm willing to play through my pain and insecurities. I can't be like Christ unless I return love when my ego is wounded, unless I pursue when I'd rather avoid, unless I serve after I've been scarred.
The quintessential trait of a good husband is the tenacity to love at all costs.
"Be like Christ." That's our poster.
Did you know couples are 30 percent less likely to get a divorce if they get some sort of premarital training? If you or someone you know is planning to marry, check out Focus on the Family's Ready to Wed curriculum, and then prepare for a marriage you'll love!