You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘relationships’ tag.

My husband and I learned how to fight. This seems like a bad idea, but there are some substantial advantages to mastering techniques for conflict resolution. By virtue of being human, there will always be possibilities for disagreements with others. It seems marriage is full of such opportunities.

50091245_138084547109304_5920824378467024896_n

Ralph and I have been married for twenty-six years, but while dating, we had to overcome contrasting upbringings and approaches to conflict. I was raised in a polite British philosophy where I often heard, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” In theory, this is rather lovely, but when applied to conflict resolution, it results in generous amounts of “sweeping things under the rug”.

My husband’s family is German. They got things out in the open, forgave, and moved on. During a conflict, my silent treatment, or disappearance from a tense room, shut down communication. Eventually, I saw that my tactics were ineffective, and began communicating by facing things head-on. Generally, for most things to improve, it takes undoing poor habits and mastering new ones. Such was the case for fighting well.

Whether a spouse, family member, colleague, or friend, we will be confronted with opportunities to fight and forgive well. When we face disagreements, or experience hurt at the hands of another, it’s easy to become offended and get angry. The key is to not grow embittered, carry that wounding around with you, or worst of all, shove it under the rug.

Fight for relationships that are worth fighting for. Instead of withdrawing or rebutting with silence, develop the habit of forgiveness. This doesn’t mean we excuse the behaviour or pretend it didn’t happen. We acknowledge the wrong done, communicate how it made us feel (if possible), and then forgive—independent of whether an apology is offered.

59433_464613089399_88908_n

Ralph and I – 2010

Forgiveness is a loving act both toward ourselves and others. It’s saying, what you did hurt me, but I refuse to let it rule me. In a fearless act of love, you forgive and in doing so, it’s as though you’ve covered over their fault so that it’s no longer visible. It’s probably the only time it’s a good idea to cover up something. In the meantime, you’ve secured your freedom. You’ve freed yourself from the weight of carrying anger and bitterness and can move forward in soul-settled peace.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

This courageous and almost contradictory behaviour—just as learning to fight appears at first glance—brings us close to the heart of God. Christ’s death meant we were loosed from sin and fully forgiven. When we behave in like manner, laying ourselves down for others, and beautifully offering a cover of forgiveness for their shortcomings, we are behaving like our Father in heaven. Here’s some helpful instruction: 

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous… If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?… Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

Forgiveness doesn’t mean giving others a license to repeatedly mistreat you. You still need to set healthy boundaries and remove yourself from toxic people or harmful situations. Forgiveness simply means you release offenses, and, as a result, remain free from others’ baggage.

Forgiveness isn’t easy. It’s not a one-time effort either. For me, forgiveness often looms like an unscalable mountain threatening to block my journey. But nothing worthwhile happens without fighting for it, or at least applying focused effort. Sometimes we need to reset our default button to bypass unhealthy mindsets or patterns of thinking.

It helps to remember that we needed mercy too. And don’t we continue to need it? We aren’t faultless. There will come a time when we hurt another—either purposely or unintentionally—and what a relief it is when this same forgiveness is extended to us. It also helps to remember we’re forgiven by God who never reminds us of our sins. The least we can do is love the same.

__________________________________

  1. Make a list of those you haven’t forgiven.
  2. Pray and ask for God’s help to forgive.
  3. Go the extra mile and bless them (wish well for them).

 

 

 

Advertisements
David_-_L'Empereur_Napoleon_se_couronnant_lui-meme

Sketch of Napoleon crowing himself. ~ Drawing by David, kept at the Louvre.

I’ve noticed that a lot of animosity hurled toward God is misdirected.

God has become the cosmic scapegoat for many misdemeanors of mankind. He’s the fault of others’ failings. The illness for the ills injected by humans upon humans. The ugliness freely deposited by others. And this blame drags heavy, like the cross he staggered beneath and heaved up the hill to his death; unjustly accused even then.

Let’s be honest, humans are notorious for redirecting blame.

How could God allow children to starve? we exclaim as we dab our mouths, rub our bellies, and declare how stuffed we are. How could God allow women and children to be abused? while our insatiable appetite for pornography helps fuel the multi-billion dollar human trafficking industry. How can God allow mass genocide? as we welcome the supposed savior and then keep silent to save ourselves. How could God allow the homeless to freeze overnight? as we cross the street, lock our doors, and add an extra blanket to our beds.

Our hostility towards God can also be fueled by former hurt. We may have been wounded by those who should have known better; some who even claimed to know God. With that layer of proximity, there can be a propensity for the hurt to spill over and affect our perception of God. Sometimes we purposely distance ourselves from God in the aftermath of such disillusionment and disappointment, ascribing undo blame and fearing to love a God whose people behave so poorly.

But abuse and neglect, hatred and homicide, others’ judgment and exclusion, is not a reflection of God’s nature, but more accurately a picture of people who have forgotten who he is. Perhaps they never really knew him in the first place, or what they do know of him, they dislike or disregard. Possibly they prefer to pick and choose the parts they can accept and reject the rest. In all truth, often we’re so caught up being the ruler of our own little kingdoms that we sacrifice others in our self-coronation. So caught up, in fact, that we don’t really understand who God is, and often could care less.

And like any relationship, fraught with misunderstanding and confusion, fault lines and frayed edges, unscalable distance and disappointment, so too is our relationship with God. It’s difficult to know someone we’ve never really encountered or regularly spend time with.

This world, and all that’s in it, is a gift. As with all gifts, after they’ve been given, it becomes up to the receiver how they’re treated and maintained. God generously gave and let us be the caretakers. He offers help if we make room, but so often it’s too crowed in the kingdom of one. That’s when things tend to get ugly.

But every now and then, we make room and let Him in, and we begin to see beauty, and truth, and love.

We begin to realize that:

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”  ~ Psalm 145:8-9

We learn that:

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  ~Lamentations 3:22-23

We hear that:

“The LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.”.  ~Deuteronomy 31:6b

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

~Psalm 68:5

When we encounter and accept the truth of God’s surprising love, both our heart and outlook is altered. We are sorry for our failings. We understand how we’ve misplaced blame, and learn to face our faults. Our relationships begin to shift, and instead of exploiting, we look at all the things he entrusted us with a little differently. Some of the things that formerly preoccupied us fade in significance. God’s gentle, patient, kind, healing, and unconditional love propels us, and as we grow stronger, we in turn help strengthen. Beauty ensues and love stands a fighting chance.

_________________________

1. In what ways have you blamed God for the failings of others?

2. In what ways have you contributed to another’s pain or misfortune? Ask God for forgiveness, for the strength to change, and, if possible, make restitution.

3. If you sense you’ve never really known God, He is just a prayer away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29133951_10155809286190091_9063471933433053184_o

My spiritual mom and I at a birthday celebration with “The Prayer Ladies”.

I call her my spiritual mom. We aren’t linked biologically but through the things of God. She’s been a constant in my life for over ten years, and we’ve shared many conversations and events. Without meaning to, or possibly knowing she has, Nancy has taught me many things. I thought it would be insightful to share these priceless morsels. It may sound like I’m bragging, but bear with me. I’m hoping one or two might be meaningful to you!

Read the rest of this entry »

The-Art-of-Forgiveness

Last week, I wrote a few thoughts on surviving bitterness. My husband read it and, knowing me so well, commented that I neglected to give personal examples. I thought to revisit this subject and make it personal, so here we go! Read the rest of this entry »

144475854

After home schooling my four children – the collective sum of eighteen years – my youngest recently decided she would like to go to school. We looked into schools in our area and chose one that seemed the best fit. The school required she take a placement test. If you’re a home school mom, you don’t need me to tell you how that feels.

While I waited for the day to arrive, waited as she wrote the test, and waited for the results of the test, all manner of fearful thoughts played in my mind. What if I hadn’t done enough? What if there were gaps in her learning? What if she writes the test and they tell me she can’t go into her grade? What if…

My husband and friends encouraged me. She’s fine, they said. You’ve done a great job. I tried to remind myself that there was much treasure in all that we had done, so much precious time together as a family and with grandparents, and opportunities for them to dig deep into their natural bent – so much that could never be measured in a test. But still it was there, that nagging voice whispering, You didn’t do enough.

I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s the world’s daily mail, isn’t it? You’re not good enough. Do more, be more, have more…more, more, more. And the frenzy is real. And it was real inside my head too. If my daughter failed the test, I would have failed. Would that mean all those years were wasted?

Einstein said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Such true words. True of our home school journey, and true of our lives too. If you are looking at where you’re at right now and wishing it were different, or thought you would be further along in your goals and dreams, or could have done better at this or that, know that there is much to be said for the things that may never be seen, praised, applauded, or awarded.

Because all those times you got up, showed up, and did your best when it was hard to do anything at all, mattered. The times you smiled when inside you were breaking. The times you chose to laugh when you wanted to cry. When you kept silent instead of using harsh words. When you retaliated with kindness. When you held it together even though you felt you were falling apart. All of those, though they may never be counted, COUNTED.

Because how on earth can you measure compassion, kindness, humility, sacrifice, grace, gentleness, tenacity, faith, hope, love, and all the brilliant, imperfect, fiercely beautiful moments in-between that fill our lives? You can’t, but that doesn’t mean they don’t count or that they remain fully unseen.

I think of Jesus’s life. For three years he ministered to crowds and individuals. He healed and told God’s message of love and salvation. Then he was brutally killed on a Roman cross. At that point it appeared as though his 33 years on earth were wasted and counted for nothing. But though his life’s work seemed a failure, that wasn’t the end. Three days later, he rose again, conquering death and making a way for us.

I can’t help but think we’ll be surprised at the end of our lives too. We don’t have to be the best, or perfect, or fully together for our lives to count. And here’s another truth, no matter how hard you try, you’ll never feel good enough or be good enough anyway. That’s meant to be reassuring! Here’s why: it’s not up to us! Jesus makes you good enough. His blood shed for you on the cross covers all your sin. Believing by faith this love offer makes you good enough. In fact, it makes you spotless in God’s eyes. He’s the one for whom all your unseen effort matters. He’s the purpose for your purposes. And one day, when you and I arrive in glory,  it will all make sense. We’ll see that even the smallest act wasn’t wasted.

I hope the voice we hear louder than the others is God’s who tells us: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9) That sounds vastly different from our daily dose of be better, be perfect, and you’re not enough, doesn’t it? Through Christ, we’re not only enough, we have all we need to fully live the life we’ve been gifted with.

It all turned out well. My daughter tested at grade level. But even if she hadn’t, I know she understands many beautiful things that test couldn’t possibly measure, things unseen that count all the same…maybe even more! The same is true in your life!

May you understand your true identity as a whole, fully loved child of God, and live out your purpose in the midst of His spacious love.

_________________________________________

  1. In what areas do you not feel good enough?
  2. How do you think God feels about those things and about you?
  3. Align your thinking to God’s in this area, and continue on in His strength and peace!
  4. Trust in Jesus and place your life, your purpose, your plans, in God’s care.

elderly-couple-holding-hands-pic-getty-images-299128103

We use the “L” word a lot. We say we love our new shoes, love our friend’s dress, or loved the Christmas party. The passionate love we most often see depicted in movies is in the infatuation stage. But love is so much more than feeling partial to a new pair of shoes, a pretty dress, a celebration with friends, or the intense feelings at the beginning of a relationship.

Here are some examples of love I’ve noticed. I’m sure you could add a few of your own.

Love looks like the man who moves into a retirement home prematurely because his wife in the adjoining room had a stroke when they were still in the throes of living out their dreams together.

Love looks like the woman who stands firm and cares for her husband in the midst of his battle with Parkinson’s disease that arrived with aggression when many more adventures still awaited them.

Love looks like the man who daily goes to the long-term care facility and sits beside his unconscious wife who hasn’t woken up in two years. Despite what the doctor and his family says, he holds her motionless hand, praying and hoping for the miraculous.

Love looks like the man who brought his wife coffee in bed, but learned that’s not her preference. Instead, he quietly sneaks out each morning without waking her to prepare the coffee for when she gets up so they can sit on the couch and enjoy it together.

Love looks like the exhausted, nursing mother who rises numerous times a night for months to nourish and comfort her colicky baby.

Love looks like the newlywed who – though formerly a wallflower – takes dancing lessons with his wife because he knows she longs to dance with him.

Love looks like the son who – despite having better things to do – proof reads his mother’s blogs so she doesn’t make a fool of herself.

Love looks like the Man who hung on a tree for mankind though He himself had done nothing wrong. His was a love so great it was willing to come, to stay with us for a time, and teach us first-hand how to love. He healed the sick and loved the broken and unlovable. He offered hope and showed us how to enter into the kingdom of heaven. He shouldered the sin of the world and poured out love until death. Even in His last breath He loved by forgiving those who were crucifying Him. This Lover is Jesus.

Here is what the Bible tells us love looks like:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Cor 13:4-8)

Love often looks more like the mundane than the movies. It’s loving the lined face long after physical beauty has faded. It’s serving the other in sickness – and in health. It’s staying when things are tough or the situation looks hopeless. Love cheers the other on. It respects and celebrates differences. Love forgives. And for all these and many more, that makes love – though mundane in its everydayness – miraculous. In its fullness, love is the fearless laying down of our lives for another. This may look as simple as giving up our preferences and our comfort, or as difficult as overlooking an offense.

This Christmas, may you see the love of Jesus anew, feel it in your heart, and receive it fully. May you look for ways to selflessly love those in your midst, laying down your life for them. May you speak your love in words and show it by your actions. May you even give undeserved love to an offender and offer forgiveness and blessing – just as Jesus did for us.

Bless you this Christmas Season! Be filled to overflowing with God’s miraculous love! If you’re up to sharing, I’d “love” to hear some of your love stories too!

__________________________________

  1. Think of some ways you can be intentional about loving those closest to you. Write them down and act on them each day leading up to Christmas.
  2. Is there a person you need to forgive? Extend love and release your offender(s).

 

 

 

man-pill-health

Our thought life is where the battle is won or lost. Not unlike food, each day, several times a day, we are offered a thought or idea we might be tempted to ingest. Some ideas are life-giving while others leave a bad taste in our mouth.

Here’s a little story. I’ll call it The Bitter Pill.

I’m having a conversation with a coworker and something she says hits me the wrong way. I could choose to ignore it, to not take it personally, and move on. I’ve done so in the past, but this time I’m caught off guard. She’s done this before, I think to myself, and no sooner have I thought it, I’ve ingested a chunk of bitterness.

Later that night, while I’m brushing my teeth, I feel something in my throat. I spit it up and realize it’s that piece of bitterness. It tastes worse now having been partially digested, and carrying the nasty residue of another bitter pill I’d swallowed a few days prior. I have an opportunity to spit it out, but I’ve taken offense, so I chew on it some more and swallow it all over again.

When I wake the next morning, I don’t feel so great. The bitterness has taken effect and now it’s in my bloodstream poisoning other areas. I take another dose by talking the situation over with a friend, thinking it will act as an antidote. It doesn’t. Instead, I feel worse. I read the side-effects on the back of the pill bottle. I don’t like what I see, but even so I commit to another dose, and another, and one more for good measure.

Eventually, my body can’t process the intake, and I get toxic. I stagger to the Doctor with my sickness. He asks me what I’ve been eating. A steady diet of bitter thoughts, I tell him. He suggests I need to detox my system. I assure Him I understand it would have been better if I hadn’t ingested the pills in the first place. He gently reminds me I have a choice, and offers me this prescription for next time:

“…demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 

How? I ask. He says the next time I’m tempted to swallow a bitter pill, I instead toss it away. If I hold onto it, even for a short time, let alone swallow it, well, you know what happens. Instead of accepting the offered thought or idea, He tells me, I have the choice to reject it. Once I do, I’ll feel healthier and will even thrive. As an added bonus, He tells me this will help too:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

It takes practice and discipline, he continues, it doesn’t happen all at once, but He assures me it’s a habit I can change with His help. I ask what happens if I mess up. He tells me, just say sorry and start over…as many times as needed.

I feel satisfied with that.

And maybe you do too, knowing that whether you’ve taken a bitter pill, an anger pill, a dishonest pill, a fear pill, a you-name-it pill, there is always the opportunity to not only say sorry and begin again, but lean on the Physician’s prescription for next time. His word, His strength, His love, and His forgiveness are readily available.

Know that you aren’t defeated. You CAN take every thought captive. You CAN forgive. You CAN overcome those habitual patterns of thinking or behaving! After all, we’ve been redeemed, given a Helper, and are dearly loved! It doesn’t get any better than that!

You’ve got this, because He’s got you!

__________________________________________

  1. Take a moment and make a list of habitual thoughts or actions that are harmful to yourself or others.
  2. Now ask God to help you focus on them one at a time until you begin to default into taking your thoughts captive. You might also find new life-giving habits to replace the old ones. My example was taking offense which lead to bitterness. Ideally, I choose to take my thoughts captive, and refuse to get angry or take offense. But if I fail to do that, I have a second opportunity to forgive quickly, pray for and bless the offender, and disallow any other bitter thoughts a parking place.

 

 

 

4757913318_a9dd65ace3_z

You aren’t alone.

There are others out there who feel like they’re different. Like they participate on the fringes. Like they aren’t accepted.

So today, I want to send some truth your way.

1. You belong.

2. You are accepted.

3. You have something to contribute that no one else has.

4. Everyone feels the same.

5. It’s not about you anyway.

Let’s start at number five and work backwards from there.

5. It’s not about you.

At my introverted worst, I enter a room and worry that no one will want to speak to me. I worry that as they stand in their groups, I’ll remain alone. It takes a lot of effort for me to be proactive and say hello, begin a conversation, and especially to break into a group. All this to say, I can easily make it all about me. So here’s something I’ve found helpful and more useful than acting like wallpaper…

I can try to change my mindset and resolve to enter a place and make it about others. There are some who are feeling uncomfortable too, and the extroverts are all bursting to connect, so what am I worried about? It sounds so simple, but I can mindfully choose to say hello to someone new, ask about how another’s day has been, or remember someone’s name or their child’s pursuits. In a coffee shop, I might make a special effort to connect in some small way with the person serving me. A smile goes a long way, as does an honest compliment, and a bit of small talk can dramatically improve a person’s day!

If you’re an extrovert, the above might be second nature to you. Making it about others might mean you ask more questions than usual, allowing the quieter types time to engage. You could also make a special effort to include the “fringies” who are waiting/longing to be invited into the fun you naturally help create.

#4. Everyone feels the same.

Everyone wants to feel loved, accepted, connected, and experience belonging. If I make it about me, in moments of insecurity I might draw back sending the message that I don’t care, when nothing could be further from the truth. When I make it about others, I engage, listen, and show another acceptance and loveindependent of their response or level of acceptance toward me. Realizing you’re not the only one who desires meaningful connections gives you the courage to be relationally proactive. You never know what impact these small acts of kindness can have as you move through your day making others feel less invisible.

#3. You have something to contribute that no one else has.

One of the great relational fears is that if we put ourselves out there, we’ll face rejection. You will at times be met with rejection (or perceived rejection), but when your thinking is other-focused instead of only self-focused, and you believe that you have something to offer that can positively impact another human being, your fear of snubbery shrinks. You and I weren’t made from a cookie-cutter. Your different way of thinking, your unique viewpoint, your encouragement, may be just the thing someone needs to hear.

#2. You are accepted.

The truth is, we’re already accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:6). When I make it about me and disengage, I miss the very thing I have to offer the world, or a single person, in that moment. Yes, you are a quirky, different, one-of-a-kind human being. There isn’t another out there like you! You don’t need to be ashamed or apologize for all that God made you to be, or all that He is making you to be. It’s the very thing you have to offer the worldthe ONLY thing, in fact, save Jesus himself! So engage and loveregardless of what others say or think of you.

#1. You belong.

Camp out there for a minute and let that soak in. You belong to the One who took care of your sin, forgave everything, and is healing you by His grace. The more you tap into who you are in Christ, the more comfortable you feel in your own skin. You’re free and easy to love others and their judgments cease to matter. You realize you don’t need to be like everyone else to be with everyone else. YOU are more than enough!

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. ~ Ephesians 1:6 (Message)

May you be surrounded with a deep sense of belonging by the One who created and adores you, and share who He made you to be with others!

____________________________________

  1. In what ways have you felt on the outside?
  2. What steps could you take to engage more fully with others?
  3. Take three opportunities today to positively impact another’s day.

 

 

This past June, my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. To be honest, it feels like we packed everything that is supposed to occur in a lifetime of marriage into these first 25 years! Even my husband said the next twenty-five could stand to be a bit less exciting.

For this post, I decided to share a few things I have learned so far. Maybe you can relate to a few of them…

img_1438.jpg

  1. The little things matter. Ralph makes me coffee every morning. First thing each day, we sit together in our sun room for an hour and chat, mugs in hand. The occasional day he may leave early, I wake to the aroma of coffee in place of him. When he is away, I miss those morning coffees and joke that it’s a rough day because I had to make my own. Little things strung together make big things. Little things show love and create closer bonds and shared memories. Look for little ways to serve and love your spouse.
  2. The little things don’t matter. Sometimes he leaves the toilet seat up, sometimes I don’t screw the toothpaste cap back on, most times he doesn’t wipe the counter, often I leave clothes on the floor. But these don’t really matter. Instead of nit-picking, most of the time, we choose to bear with one another. It’s easy to get too caught up with insignificant things. Instead, try to focus on the positive aspects of your partner and marriage, choosing to celebrate those instead.
  3. Celebrate each other. Be your spouse’s biggest fan. Encourage them and support them as they stretch for their dreams. Appreciate your differences and realize that they make you a stronger, more well-rounded couple.
  4.  This too shall pass. Whatever you two are facing right now isn’t permanent. The situation, the problem, whatever the challenge is, won’t look the same in a few weeks, months, or years to come. Be patient. There is no quick fix. If you’re both committed to listening, learning, repenting, forgiving, and growing, there’s a greater chance you’ll be okay. It will get better if you both work at it. Which brings me to my next point…
  5. Nothing stays the same. The years march on…quickly. The kids grow up, we grow older. Appreciate each other now. Put each other first – even before your kids and especially before your parents, friends, hobbies, and work. You’re in it for a lifetime, so take time for each other. Laugh together. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll grow old together.
  6. You aren’t perfect. So why expect your partner to be? Sometimes our expectations are too high. We look at their weaknesses and completely overlook our own. We’re impatient and expect that they should be further along by now. Often, our grace barometer needs adjusting, and so does our attitude. You’re their partner for a reason. Together you take steps toward Christ-likeness and encourage each other along your shared journey.
  7. They aren’t God. Obviously. So don’t put your partner in this place in your life. When Ralph and I were newlyweds I recall being frustrated and disappointed that he wasn’t meeting my every need. I soon realized that I’d made the mistake of expecting Ralph to fill God’s shoes. Of course, the shoes were much too big! Don’t expect your partner to meet all your needs. They won’t and they can’t. It’s an unfair position to be in, and you’ll end up sorely disappointed. They can never be your all. They will never complete you. Only God can meet all your needs and provide all your joy and peace. You’ve been gifted with this person to share your life with, but keep God in top priority, not your spouse.
  8. Fight for each other, not with each other. You each came into this marriage with baggage. Help each other carry it and by and by, it will get lighter. You don’t fix each other – that’s God’s job – but you persevere. You courageously face the struggles head-on, dealing with them until they lose and your marriage wins.
  9. Pray with each other. Try to find a time each day to pray together. It keeps you humble and connected. Plus, together you are a powerhouse against the enemy – a formidable force to be reckoned with!
  10. Love. I mean, really love. There is nothing like marriage to make you learn to truly love. It’s hard work. It takes a disciplined effort. Sometimes we prefer not to try. For the most part, we aren’t good at it. Sometimes we want to give up. The popular culture has distorted love. This is what it should look like:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.

1 Corinthians 13

Try putting your name in place of love in the above verse. How did you do?

I’d love to hear some things you’ve learned during your years of marriage so far!

May you love deeply and grow even stronger in your marriage! 

_________________________________________________________________

  1. When you looked at the “love list” above, which ones did you feel needed improvement on your end?
  2. Write them on a piece of paper and purposely choose to work on one area each week.
  3. Ask God to help you on a daily basis. He’s the only One who can give you a generous supply of love.

illumelation-nyinabulitwa-crater-lakes-uganda-kibale-top-of-the-world-brosisYou shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. ~ Exodus 20:3-4

Not far into our marriage, I noticed my husband wasn’t making me happy. This was disconcerting because, after all, wasn’t that the reason I married him in the first place? During my teens, I had crafted a list of attributes that my life’s mate needed to have, and my husband met all the criteria – except hair and eye colour! So what happened? Had I made a mistake?

As I thought over the disappointment I felt, it hit me. My expectations were faulty. My husband wasn’t meant to be my “everything”. He wasn’t meant to be my primary source of joy, meet all my needs, and be there for me every waking moment. I was asking him to be something he was never designed to be. I had set him up as God, and he wasn’t equipped for the position. He had become an idol in my life.

Husbands and wives are meant to love, honour and serve one another. The Bible even talks about a husband loving his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…(Ephesians 5:25), but this was different. This wasn’t pointing to a lack in my husband, it was pointing to a lack within me. Instead of going to God as the primary source of my joy, peace, security, affirmation, and love, all my hopes were wrapped up in my husband lavishing these on me, and when he didn’t, or more accurately, couldn’t meet my insatiable need for these things, I felt cheated.

It’s not just husbands who are flung into this precipitous position. It may be friends, other family members, or even our children whom we place in these lofty locations.  But they, too, are unable to meet our idealistic thinking of the role they are supposed to play in our lives. I wonder if that’s one reason why there are so many broken relationships in this world. People were never meant to fill the hollow places. The space is too large to fill, the emptiness too vast, the amount of attention required too great.

There is only One who can fill the void: the One who created you with an innate need for Him. And yet, instead of intimacy with God, we look to all sorts of things to fill the emptiness: people, toys, clothes, food, drink, and fleeting fun. But all of these, when put before – or in place of God – are idols. They are temporary, counterfeit imposters attempting to take the place of the real deal. And we wonder why we’re unhappy. Why we’re dissatisfied. Why we feel empty.

Not all things we esteem are bad, but God wants first place in your life. What idols are blocking your view of God? Look at what you spend the majority of your spare time doing, or thinking about, and you might find an idol or two. Do they matter more to you than your relationship with God? If so, confess them, remove them from their pedestal, and put them in their rightful place in your life.

May you put God in first place in your life with no idols before Him.

———————————————————————————

  1. Make a list of what matters most to you.
  2. Look over the list and see if anything on it trumps God in your life. If so, make the necessary adjustments to put God first.

Categories

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 447 other followers

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Advertisements