23 years - and I still have much to learn.

Jill and I just completed our third week of reading about the wonderful topic of marriage. Not only do we exchange our notes, we also have the benefit of discussing them each week when we see each other at the beach. Boy, do we confess much to each other! It is wonderful to do such a study with someone who is willing to be transparent about herself as a wife and as a woman because it frees me to be equally as transparent - and work gets done!
Dennis and I have been married almost 24 years, and while we praise God that we are not the same people who said, "I do," we are still two sinners trying to live together in an understanding way, and we do not always succeed.
How thankful I am to belong to a God who not only forgives, but gives us second, third, and 3,224 chances to try again. Without His mercy and grace, our marriage never would have survived, and we are both acutely aware that we owe every day of our 23 years - to Him.

✦ "Obstacles arise, anger flares up, and weariness dulls our feelings ... 
maturity is reached by continuing to move forward past the pain and apathy. Falls are inevitable. We can't always control whether or not we fall, but we can control the direction to which we fall - toward or away from our spouse."

✦ "Christian love is an aggressive movement and an active commitment. In reality, we choose where to place our affections."

✦ "... the opposite of biblical love isn't hate; it's apathy."

✦ "Conflict provides an avenue for spiritual growth. To resolve conflict, by definition, we must become more engaged, not less. Just when we want to tell the other person off, we are forced to be quiet and listen to their complaint. Just when we are most eager to make ourselves understood, we must strive to understand. Just when we seek to air our grievances, we must labor to comprehend another's hurt.
For such compromise to work, there must be numerous mini-funerals. We must choose to die to ourselves and to give ground, and, conversely, not to gloat when ground is given to us."

✦ "One of marriage's primary purposes is to teach us how to forgive.
Sin in marriage (on the part of both spouses) is a daily reality, an ongoing struggle that threatens to hold us back. You will never find a spouse who is without sin. The person you decide to marry will eventually hurt you - sometimes even intentionally, making forgiveness an essential spiritual discipline."

✦ "... true forgiveness is a process, not an event."

✦ "The very definition of the word sacrifice means that sacrifice isn't sacrifice unless it costs us something.
The beauty of marriage is that it confronts our selfishness and demands our service twenty-four hours a day. When we're most tired, most worn-out, and feeling more sorry for ourselves than we ever have before, we have the opportunity to confront feelings of self-pity by getting up and serving our mate."

✦ "I believe God designed marriage, in part, to "pinch our feet." Both men and women need to have their pride assaulted. All of us, men and women alike, if we are to become like Christ, must, by definition, learn to become servants. And marriage gives us the opportunity to do just that."

✦ "Each day we must die to our own desires and rise as a servant. Each day we are called to identify with the suffering Christ on the cross and then be empowered by the resurrected Christ. We die to our expectations, our demands, and our fears. We rise to compromise, service, and courage."

Lord! Help! Twenty-three years of marriage has allowed me to grow and mature, but not enough. Make me more like You, Lord, because when I look like me I make a mess of things. Teach me how to be humble, confessing my sins and faults to Dennis, and teach me to be a servant who desires to give comfort to my husband before serving myself. On my own, I will fail as a wife, but with You, I can give more, serve more, forgive and overlook more, and love more. Not because I have to - but because I want to.

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