For the last few Sundays our church has done a series on marriage. The first three weeks we actually watched Andy Stanley's IMarriage, then TJ followed up last night with a "what now" talk. I really liked it. It was good, in a worked out too hard at the gym and it hurts the next day kind of good. It's the kind of truth that is relevant where I am today. One of the things Andy pointed out is that most marriages are comprised of two big "I's" and no real "we." And that those marriages then end up in a debt/debtor relationship where everything is conditional upon the other's actions or responses. If anything, through this series, I realized that I am a BIG FAT I! So is Neil, but I have no control over him. I can only change myself. Love is a choice. I might not always like Neil, but I do always choose to love him. Okay, maybe not always, but I am committed to our marriage. The thing is that most talks I hear on marriage just tell me that I need to do better and that I still have to be the Proverbs 31 woman even if Neil isn't holding up to his side of the bargain. While it is true that how I fulfill my role as a wife should not be conditional on how he fulfills his role as a husband, I shouldn't look at my role as a command to obey, but as a reflection of God's love for me. See God designed marriage to be his tangible example of his unconditional love for us. So my love for Neil should be patient and kind, not envious or boastful, not proud, rude or self-seeking. I should keep no record of wrongs, nor delight in evil. I should rejoice in the truth, always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, and always perservering. (1 cor. 13: 4-7) And not because Neil is so great at doing all these things, but because God is and he showers His love on me everyday. So why is it do hard to reflect that love, such great love?
Actually, I think our expectations are the real culprits hear. Everyone walks into a marriage with expectations whether they admit it or not. You have ideas of what your wedding night will be like, then the honeymoon. You have visions in your mind of romance, intimacy, and spiritual depth. But when reality sets in, and we realize that a real marriage doesn't exactly look like our favorite chick flick. There is a reason that most of those movies end with the beginning of a relationship, because that's when they "feel" the best. No one would want to see what came next...reality. I certainly came into my marriage with expectations, which I quickly began to load onto my husband's shoulders. I expected him to lead me spiritually, but he didn't. We've been married almost 7 years and I can say in all certainty that God is not at the center of our marriage. And to be honest that scares me, especially when I look at my two little boys. What will they say about us when they're all grown up? Will they say that they grew up in a God-fearing home? Or maybe just a church-going home? Or maybe just a moral home? Of course I want them to say God-fearing, but if nothing were to change, I am quite sure they could not say that, and if they did, it would be not be because it were true, it would be because we fudged it just enough to fool them. Yes, I came into my marriage with expectations that Neil would be the spiritual leader, the head of the household, and that he would love me like Christ loved the church laying down his life. And many times I have thrown Bible darts at Neil. You know the ones I speak of. "You should lead me...wooosh," "You should pray with me...wooossh," "You should put the toilet seat down...wooossh." And he does the same thing to me I'm sure. The more darts that are flown, the more holes there are in the marriage, the more expectations we load up on each other's shoulders. So my question is, what do I do now? We all know that listening to a sermon won't send our marriages in a different direction, at least not overnight.
Last night TJ asked us to make a commitment. On a sheet of paper he had written 4 choices; pray every day for a month, read a book, make a list of what we're looking for in a spouse (little late for that one), or practice dying to myself. I choose the last one, because I think that's the opposite of being a BIG I. Dying to myself means putting someone else first, and I think it's about time I start making Neil the priority in my life. I love being great, and I can be great at a lot of things, but I think I pretty much suck at being a wife. Now I just need to figure out what dying to myself looks like and how I practice that. How do I become great at dying to myself? I don't know the answer. Again, I probably have more questions than answers, but I trust that God has a plan for my marriage, and it includes me.
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