A few weeks ago in a sermon, Joel said that we should 'pray for what we're passionate about.' In other words, if you're passionate about politics and government, pray for it! If you're passionate about orphans, pray for them! If you're passionate about AIDS in Africa, pray for it!
Well, I assumed that if it's a good idea to pray for what you're passionate about, then maybe it was also a good idea to blog about what you're passionate for :) I regularly blog about at least one thing that I'm passionate about----my children! But there is something else that can really get me excited---a discussion on marriage. I believe that marriage is a beautiful, God-ordained institution. (Not that everybody should get married, mind you, just that once you ARE married, it can be beautiful!) And, sadly, like every other beautiful thing in God's creation, Satan is out to destroy it. he (no capital letter deserved here) wants to take two people, working together as one for God's kingdom, and pull them apart. And it's up to us, through God's grace, to keep him from doing that.
I have been blessed with a beautiful marriage. Now, a disclaimer here. I am not claiming that our marriage has been perfect. I am not claiming that we've had nothing to work through, or struggles to over-come. Since we've been married, we've had to endure an early miscarriage, weeks upon weeks of bed-rest during my third pregnancy, my struggles with pleurisy a few years back, my constant on-going annoyance of my hearing loss, the loss of six (6!) of our grandparents since we've been married, and now the most recent loss of my Mama. Plus, we have our own struggles and short-comings that each of us have to work through. I loose my temper far too easily. And Joel is so calm and even-tempered about everything that....oh wait, that's not a short-coming ;) So, in saying 'beautiful', I don't mean perfect. What I DO mean is this.....
In spite of all of the above nastiness, I'm always amazed at how God can work to make something beautiful! Two people, working together to raise a family and make a difference for God's Kingdom. Working through struggles, through short-comings, through disagreements and sins to stay committed to each other.
I have been reading a book recently that I found on one of my Mom's shelves when we were packing. I brought it home with me because I remembered her saying how good this book was, and what an eye-opener it was for her. If you've never read it, let me highly recommend it now. It's called 'The Grace Awakening', by Charles R. Swindoll.
In one of the later chapters, the author explores the role that grace plays in marriages. He outlines three main ideas that he feels are essential for any marriage that is going to last. I'd like to share them here with you, because I know that Joel and I have also found these ideas to be true in our own marriage. (I am not pretending to be any kind of marriage counselor or advice giver here, folks----I am simply sharing with you truth that I've had shared with me, and has benefited my marriage!)
Truth number 1.) Marriage requires both parties to become 'unselfish'. How very true! In entering a marriage, you must expect that your 'rights' are no longer your 'rights'! You now hold the needs/wants/desires of another person higher than your own. Do I really want to rise early in the morning before day-light? No, but my husband needs a lunch to eat at lunch-time, and it's my job to fix it. Would my husband rather spend his Saturdays doing something he enjoys rather than paying bills, fixing things around the house and taking care of children? Of course! But he has entered into this marriage commitment, and committed he is! The author says "It calls for grace to release rights and expect little in return"
2.) Marriage means a lifelong commitment. From the very beginning of our marriage, Joel and I agreed that 'divorce' would never be an option. We would not threaten each other with it, we would not talk about it, we would not consider it. It was not a possibility. That way, when times got hard, our first thought wasn't "Oh, well, if this doesn't work out, no big deal", but rather, "How DO we work through this and come out stronger on the other side?" Throw the word 'divorce' out of your vocabulary right now. Of course it's easy to give up and leave a commitment that you weren't really committed to in the first place. The author reiterates again that this takes grace. It is not natural to our sinful, selfish selves to keep going when the going gets tough. Our first response is to flee and run. But, through God's grace, we can keep going.
3.) Marriage includes times of trouble. That's just life. Life includes trouble! That's why we say in our vows "For better or for worse". I'm gonna stick with you no matter what. Even if there our times when I don't feel like I love you. Because I realize that love STARTS OUT with a commitment. A decision. Then the feeling comes. I believe that every marriage goes through times when one or the other (or both) people don't feel that mushy, gushy, 'head over heels' feeling that you felt on your honeymoon. But that doesn't mean that you don't love the other person! Because love isn't a feeling, it's a decision. You will have to go through difficulties. They may be like the ones I listed above, or they may be your own totally unique set. Financial problems, loss of loved ones, job loss, personality clashes----these and more may come to you, but you must decide before hand that you're going to stick it out!
Here are just a few of the more 'funny' differences Joel and I have experienced in our marriage:
1.) I'm a night owl. Light on until midnight is not uncommon for me. My husband is a morning bird. Light on at 5 a.m. is not uncommon for him. We both agree to continue sleeping and ignore the other one's craziness ;)
2.) I'm always cold---he's always hot. The electric blanket goes on MY side of the bed, folks.
3.) I have a flaring temper, he is ALWAYS calm and in control. I've had to learn to bite my tongue and hop up and down when I stub my toe instead of yelling and punching some unfortunate inanimate object. Because my husband was getting tired of fixing closet doors that I kicked when I pinched my finger. Next subject, please.....
4.) He prefers action/war/people turning into robots kind of movies, I prefer anything that makes me laugh (think Tim Allen drooling out his peaches after he gets a Botox injection on 'Christmas with the Kranks') So, we take turns picking movies on movie night....
You get the picture. We're two different people----if we weren't, this marriage thing would get pretty boring! We use our differences to grow and to have fun.
Alright, I've probably stepped on a few toes by now. Forgive me. Blame my husband and his 'Pray for what you're passionate about' statement ;) Or, better yet, blame Charles Swindoll and his book "The Grace Awakening". By the way, you HAVE headed on over to Amazon to order that by now, RIGHT?? :)
I know that I have those reading my blog who have gone through or are going through struggles in their marriages. I'm not trying to point fingers, judge you or condemn you. I'm not trying to make this marriage thing look easy, because it's not. It requires hard work and commitment! I am simply trying to ENCOURAGE you. Encourage you to TAKE BACK what Satan so desperately wants a hold of! You can feel free to comment and leave me tips for things that have helped you along in your OWN marriage. (And by the way, just so you know, I DO pray for your marriages-----because the praying comes first, THEN the blogging ;)
And THAT is something I am passionate about. Better not get me started on Krispy Kreme blueberry glazed donuts, or we'll be here ALL night.....