Last night Dennis and I sat together with our laptops while he worked and I listened to praise music. A comment here, a question there ... both of us relaxed and comfortable. It was WONderful.
And I'm sure that sounds odd, strange, or even lame. Computers + work = good? Um ... Michelle?
Okay, here's the deal. It was not what we were DOING that was good ... it was US that was good.
And "good" is not an adjective either of us would use to describe our past month as husband and wife. One or both of us have been irritable, short, unkind with our words and tone of voice, impatient, lacking sensitivity and compassion, not seeking to understand the other, inattentive, dismissive, selfish, and rude. Don't you wish YOU were married to one of us? <she says with thickly dripping sarcasm and a roll of the eyes>
It was a bad month.
Neither of us happy.
Neither one content.
Both keeping lists of offenses and grievances.
Neither one enjoying the other.
Both wishing the other would change.
Mutual encouragement and support? Um, no.
Both of us hating every minute of it but refusing to be the one to surrender first.
When you are first married you receive much grace. You are both clueless, ignorant, blind, and inexperienced as a spouse. And why wouldn't you be? You've never done this before! You HAVE to fight through the unknown pitfalls that come with living with another sinner day after day because there is no other way to do it. Experience is a great teacher.
After a while, you start to figure things out - cause and effect if you will - and you begin to do things differently. A long list of "Note to Self" items are collected, and you eventually learn how to love, respect, encourage, and challenge your spouse the way he/she needs to be loved. Your desire to meet your own needs begins to diminish as the desire to meet the needs of your spouse increases.
It is a beautiful thing.
It is a necessary thing.
It is a biblical thing.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
We are newlyweds no longer. "I didn't know" just doesn't cut it anymore. We DO know. And we are accountable.
We love each other.
We respect and cherish each other.
Enjoy each other.
We cannot imagine sharing life with anyone else.
We raise children together.
Serve in ministry together.
Walk through trials and hurts and pain, together.
But there is this pesky little thing called sin that continues to cling to us as the months and years of marriage roll by. Within the mutual love and affection, pleasure and joy of living and serving together, selfishness is always lurking nearby, waiting for the chance to show itself. And sadly, his opportunities are frequent.
Giving up self.
Thinking of another first.
Serving without expectations.
Not keeping a record of wrongs.
All of these are a CHOICE.
Regardless of how the other person is acting, behaving, or speaking.
I get to choose whether I will love, honor, and serve my husband ...
or if I will serve - myself.
Dennis and I both chose to serve self for almost a month.
And because we chose poorly, we suffered the consequences of that choice.
Disappointment, lack of affection, annoyance, frustration, and apathy.
Not the fruits the Lord intended a husband and wife to enjoy when He designed marriage!
We will never have a perfect marriage.
But we can certainly make a better practice of perfection by intentionally choosing to outdo one another in showing honor.
In the little things.
In the big things.
In the everyday and the mundane.
Because the truth is, when Dennis and I love, serve, respect, and submit to one another - we are loving, serving, respecting, and submitting to the Lord.
And above everything else - even our selfishness and pride - that is EXACTLY what we want to do!
Honor the Lord.
In our marriage.
In our parenting.
In all things.
Oh, Lord, please continue changing us from the inside out!
Our greatest desire is to look like You.
May we be found faithful!