Abby ShieldsDear Friend,

When working with couples through their marital issues, I’m often confronted with a love that withholds. A love that withholds is a conditional type of love that is based on “if/then,” and a “what have you done for me lately” type attitude. A message I often hear in my office is “If you really loved me you would…. Or Why can’t you be more like… so that I can…!

It’s like trying to build a fire where one spouse has the wood and the other the heat. They need each other to make fire but if both withhold from each other until they receive from the other what they want, they never build a fire and they both freeze to death!

This conditional love that withholds is not exclusive to marriage. Clearly it stems from a world saturated with the message of “I’ll love you if, or I’ll love you when.” It’s not surprising then that we often project this same kind of love onto God. We start with grace and we believe that we are saved by it, but if we are not careful thoughts that God loves us more when we obey Him and withholds love when we disappoint Him can creep in. This is a crippling view of God because this is not the type of love that brings forth new life. This is not the type of love that redeems, and it certainly is not the type of love displayed in the gospel that we celebrate at Easter.

The type of unconditional agape love we celebrate at Easter is the type of love God intended for this world and was fully embodied in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. This love is a love that says, “You can beat me, you can mock me, you can even kill me, but I will rise still loving you!” God’s love is unconditional and unstoppable, even by death, and we rejoice in that truth at Easter. For it is this love portrayed in the gospel that saves. It is unconditional gospel love that has the power to redeem lives, marriages, and families from sin and brokenness.

As we move forward from Holy Week and Easter Sunday may you be reminded of the love poured out on the cross when lies of inadequacy creep in. May you stand firm when you doubt God’s love for you because unlike this world, He withheld nothing, even his son, to win back your heart. And out of the experience of this life-giving love, may we strive to live like Jesus, extending this same kind of love to others in our life, thus bringing God’s kingdom to Earth. Blessings to you this Easter.

In His Grip,

Abby Shields

P.S.- Please continue to check our website,, or facebook for details for our Women’s Beach Retreat coming up September 28-30th.