Monday, March 3, 2008

Convicting and changing...

I started thinking a lot this weekend. Ok, well really, God got me started thinking this weekend. I had a lot of time to think driving in the car to and from my parent’s house. I listened to a sermon on my way to my folks that talked about there being hope for your marriage. It was the introductory sermon to a series, and gave a really good overview of what the pastor was going to be talking about, and what God intended for marriage.

The pastor had 4 main points.

1. You need to leave your parents and cleave to your spouse. Cleaving he defined as pouring energy into; essentially making your relationship with your spouse the main focus.

2. Commit to your spouse. He talked about studies that showed every marriage, at around 7 years, hit a wall. There might be the 2.3 kids, house mortgage, car payments, etc. and you start thinking “there must be someone better.” His words were, you found the better when you married it. That is your better and marriage is permanent, so commit to that, and don’t let your eyes or thoughts wander. Just don’t go down that path.

3. Follow the roles laid out for each of you in scripture. Men, love your wife as Christ loves the church, sacrificially (do you realize how much that means to us women? It’s HUGE). And women, respect/honor your husband, and submit to him. (I don’t think we as women realize just how huge that is to our men, and how much culture and everything else conspires to tear down their manhood… we shouldn’t to that to them at home, we should be building them up)

4. Cling to God. If something is going wrong in your relationship, look at the other areas, but also look at your relationship with God. Are you reading the bible regularly, having consistent times in prayer, accountability, fellowship? All those things keep you connected to God. If you aren’t connected, how are you going to know what He wants you to do in your relationship with your spouse.

As I listened to the sermon, I really felt God moving in my heart. He started to remind me of some things in the past two weeks, where I hadn’t been very honoring to my husband. Where I seemed to put the kids over him, failed to greet him when he got home; acted bitter when our schedules didn’t mesh so that we could spend time together; didn’t act excited or grateful when he did something special for me… my heart just twisted inside.

I realized that I wasn’t fulfilling the role that Christ wanted me to, as He laid them out in scripture. Whether I feel that my husband is upholding his end of the relationship, or fulfilling his role, or staying connected to God, etc… I need to be doing my part. I can’t control anything that Dave does. Nor should I try to manipulate him into doing what I “want” him to do. But, with God’s help, I can change my actions. I can change how I react to him, interact with him, and just plain act towards him.

Instead of feeling bitter inside because of how I perceived he is doing something, I should take my emotions and deal with them on my own. In the meantime I need to serve Dave out of love. Not because if I do something for him, then he will be obligated to do something for me, but just to do something for him out of love, and do it with a humble spirit, a quiet heart. If I can allow God to work through me (by being connected to Him), if I can fill the role that God gave me (honoring and submitting), if I commit to Dave, and pour energy into our relationship, if I can show to Dave that he comes first after God, not me… won’t that in and of itself change our relationship? Whether or not Dave changes, that isn’t the point. That isn’t the goal, to change him… the goal is to change me, my heart, my attitudes, my actions.

My Dave is a wonderful husband and father. I love him dearly. There are so many things I love about him. His laugh, his funny sense of humor, his willingness to help anyone, even if its out of his way, his tenderness with me, his love for our kids, the incredible way he provides for our family… I could go on and on. So why wouldn’t I want to serve him, honor him, submit to him. If neither of us is in God’s will for our marriage, it really isn’t going to get any better. So if one of us starts doing what God wants, if the other isn’t already, they might start responding. Whether the other responds or not, the marriage will grow, we will get closer together just by one person changing, and God will bless us.

If I can honor my husband and submit to him, and build him up so that he feels respected by me, I am doing my job. I can serve him out of love, an overflow of the immense sacrifice Christ made for us, in serving us. It doesn’t matter what he chooses to do. It really doesn’t. I still love God, I know He loves me, and I know that Dave loves me as well. What more does God need? He wants a humble heart, a heart willing to bend the knee and take up the basin and the towel…

It’s all about changing me. God got my attention this weekend. He wants to change me, from the inside out. It doesn’t matter what the other people around me do. Christ wants me to follow Him, to do what He did, and to act out of love towards others. The best way to show that love to Dave, is to respect, honor, submit and serve. The best way to show that love to my kids, is to guide, teach, discipline, cherish, and serve. The best way to show that to my friends and family and church, is to love, pray, support, use what God has given me to serve.

It seems so daunting looking at that list. But God is giving me baby steps. He showed me that I need to change my attitude about so many things. Stop focusing on what is “wrong” with others and instead see the log in my own eye and work on that first.

If I work on my own junk, my own healing, but also stop being so “self” focused and instead see how I have been treating those around me I love… then I will be in God’s will. I need to fix my eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of my faith.
God stirred my heart this weekend to a depth that I haven’t felt in a long time. He tied everything together at once, through several different messages I heard over the course of 3 days. I prayed for my marriage and for Dave with a depth and passion that I haven’t had for a very long time. I felt God turning my focus onto Him, onto what He wants me to do. I felt Him say to me, “If you only keep your eyes on Me, follow Me, and see what I can do…”

I am not so afraid of healing now. I am not so afraid of the future now. I am not so afraid of being a parent now. I am not so afraid.

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