Love’s Disadvantage



When Ben Pike asked Ashlee Barrett to marry him he couldn’t have had an idea of where the journey towards their wedding would take him… or how much it would cost.

While they are both typical American young people, not much of their courtship would be considered conventional.

Both Ashlee and Ben were athletes at the University of Toledo: she a basketball player, and he a defensive tackle on the football team.  Juggling full-time class loads and athletic schedules meant that making time for one another would have to be done assertively and sacrificially.

Assertiveness and sacrifice are not rare on-field qualities in college level athletes, but the depth of this couple’s character would be tested off-the-field.


Ben and Ashlee met at an Athletes in Action Bible study and began a relationship that led to an engagement proposal just inside the gates of The White House.  Ashlee’s graduation led to a teaching job out-of-state while Ben settled in for his junior season in Toledo, Ohio.

That’s when Ashlee was diagnosed with leukemia.

When she was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, Ben flew to join her family in the ICU; “I’m glad this happened to me and not you”, she said quietly.  It was a demonstration of the sacrificial love that defined their relationship.

After a tumultuous season of long-distance relationship combined with cancer treatments, Ben Pike has finally decided to opt out of his senior football season in order to marry and care for Ashlee.

The wedding date is set for this summer, and Ben and Ashlee are praying that she’s healthy enough to keep that appointment.

Ben doesn’t see that giving up football, in order to graduate early and begin his life as Ashlee’s husband, as too great a sacrifice to make.

“…going through everything, the way she’s handled herself with such grace and beauty and a positive outlook on life. It’s been truly humbling. I can definitely say she’s my hero.”

Ben Pike is willing to put himself at a disadvantage because he understands that this is what love does.  Love always places itself in a position of disadvantage in order to meet the needs of the beloved.

This is the overriding, and overwhelming, message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t it?  Consider the disadvantages that Jesus took upon himself when he chose to make us the object of his love:

He came to earth,
Became flesh and blood,
Lived in poverty,
Faced suffering and rejection,
Was unjustly tried,
Then unfairly executed.

Ben Pike knows the cost of love because he has experienced the costly love that came from the assertive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

When Ben asked Ashlee to marry him he couldn’t have understood how much it would cost, he just knew that he would pay it… no matter what.

I don’t know Ben or Ashlee, but I know from hearing their story that we have a mutual friend in Jesus; the man of sorrows who offers us his life, love, and healing.

I’m praying for Ashlee to make a lasting recovery, and for Ben to keep setting a Godly and inspiring example of love.

In this willingness to accept the disadvantage that comes with sacrifice Ben is teaching us something simple yet forgotten about the true nature of love:

Love isn’t about what you can get from someone else.

It’s about what you have to offer them.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – I John 3:16-18


2 Responses to “Love’s Disadvantage”

  1. Keith Dart February 20, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    So great….

  2. Heather Berggren February 22, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    What an incredible reminder of true sacrifice-

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