A staggering statistic from the Art of Marriage DVD series prompted this post. On average, the ratio of negative to positive things a person will say about their spouse is 15 to 1! 15 to 1! I was shocked when I first heard this, but in looking back and being truthful, I was excelling at this behavior and probably could have taken the blue ribbon home. Let’s just be real afterall. I remember many early mornings running with my ladies training for a half marathon and spending the entire time yapping in their ears about all my husband’s issues and problems, while of course I had the answers to all of them if he would only listen. No wonder we were on the divorce course (and that’s another blog post for another time). Let’s just say God dealt with me on that one and we’ve happily celebrated 20 years this year. But from that, I created this visual in my mind of a cup of marbles that sits between a husband and wife that represents the relative state of either building up or tearing down the marriage.
As newlyweds, the cup is overflowing with *love marbles* and both the husband and wife are happily taking, taking marbles out of the cup. Life is grand. But they are depleting the supply until eventually there’s only one lonely marble rolling around in the cup. Someone grabs it. Hmm. Now the husband and wife are both pulling on the cup trying to get more love marbles out but of course that’s not working. So they start blaming each other that there’s *no love* in the cup and demanding that the other person put marbles in. “You aren’t doing this… you aren’t doing that… if you would do this, I would be happy… if she would only change this… if he would only change that…” We get focused on everything the other person is doing wrong and happily tell everyone about it, 15 to 1. In our thoughts, in our words, in our actions, we are sending the message that our spouse is unworthy and we are reinforcing it in our own minds. We are tearing the marriage down. How do we turn this around? How do we walk in faith in our marriages to build them up? The answer is simple, change the ratio.
The faith walk in marriage is unconditional love from the husband and unconditional respect from the wife. Whether or not your spouse is being a putz, you are called to be unconditionally loving or unconditionally respectful (assuming we are not talking about an abuse situation). This means speaking to and about your spouse in loving and respectful ways. Stop and check yourself before you say something – is it respectful or disrespectful, loving or unloving? Make an intentional effort to say something nice to and about your spouse every day and cut down on the complaints. Make the ratio 10 to 1, make it 5 to 1, make it 1 to 1. Keep working it down. You will see how quickly the *love cup* starts filling up again. The level of resistance you feel to doing this will tell you how far off the path you’ve veered from God’s design for marriage. When I started doing this, I was surprised to see two things (1) how much trust I had lost from my husband that I needed to rebuild; he came to expect that I was just always going to cut him down and (2) how much more committed I felt to the marriage just by staying in the game and staying respectful even during tough conversations.
Your marriage is worth it; your spouse is worth it. Give it this much, change the ratio, to see the glory of God’s design start to manifest in it.
I was at a Chris Tomlin concert where he had pastor Louie Giglio share a bible story with us. Louie did an amazing exposition on the story of The Prodigal Son. Now this story tends to focus on the “rotten egg” son, the one who takes daddy’s cash, blows it partying and living it up, ends up broke and feeding slop to pigs when he gets a clue and heads home to apologize to God and his father. His father amazingly receives him like a king and welcomes him home by throwing a party and serving him the fattened calf. It paints a vivid portrait of God’s almost incomprehensible love for us and His willingness to forgive us after all the ridiculous things we’ve done when we seek His forgiveness. But the story doesn’t end there.
The other brother, who has been working all day in the field, like he does every day, slaving alongside the servants, comes home when the party is in full swing. He hears the music and laughter and finds out from a servant that it’s a party for his brother who has come home and the fat calf is on the barbee. And he is torqued off. He refuses to go in. His dad comes out and the son starts berating him about never getting a party, even with the skinny goat, and he’s the one who’s stayed home working his knuckles to the bone while his brother squandered his inheritance. His father says, “Son, everything I have is yours. If you want to have a party, have one. You don’t have to slave alongside the servants to earn it.”
The word the father chose, “Son” tells it all. We are God’s children, and He is calling us so. We don’t have to work to earn His love or the inheritance He already has planned for us. We just have to be obedient to Him as His child, with faith like a child, to receive our inheritance from Him. In a million years I never would have said that I thought I was working for God’s love. I just didn’t see it. But this story stopped me cold. I spent 17 years in a career where I worked my knuckles to the bone. I have collapsed from sheer physical and emotional exhaustion from this career. I gave hundreds, thousands, of hours of my life away to it. All for the purpose of “doing the right thing”. I justified my dependence on my own work by my own hands by telling myself I was: providing for my kids, helping people at work, having more money to donate, etc., and therefore I kept driving myself like a slave. Now these things are all necessary and honorable, but He never called me to kill myself to do it. So, in being brutally honest with myself, in “doing the right thing” I was really trying to earn His love and the provision He’s already set aside for me by working myself to the bone to acquire it out of my own sheer will. He showed me that I don’t need to work so excessively and I don’t need to strive so hard. I am not a slave. I am a daughter. And I only need to do what He’s asking me to do and He will provide the rest, just the same as you would do for your own children. So, I’m not sure if I’m going to get a fattened calf or a skinny goat for dinner, but I do know he’ll put food on my table as long as I continue to treat Him like my father, seek His guidance, and serve Him the way He is asking me to.
In the dark, images from the past thrash my mind like a rag doll
My fear is thick
I hold on to His presence to save myself from fleeing
He overturns each one in my mind to show me how powerless each is
He recreates me in His truth
in His hand there is peace
I worked at a small 45-50 person company for a couple years. It was the kind of place that had a single security guard sitting behind a glass pane keeping things in order simply by recognizing every face that walked through the door. I saw this man, the security guard, twice a day every day for two years. In the morning I would walk in and give him a wave and a cheerful “good morning!” through the glass and in the evening on my way out, “have a great night!” And every day he responded in kind. The company was having serious financial troubles. For months on end, we came through the doors, not knowing if we would get paid that Friday, or whether the doors would even be open when we got there. Every week I fretted about whether to stay or look for a new job. On the days where I had absolutely nothing to do because the company had no money to fund my projects, I speculated with co-workers about the longevity of the company and we killed time worrying about the impact to our families. The time finally came for me to take my leave from the company. On my last day, I walked toward the door as I had hundreds of times before and lifted my hand to say “have a great night!” to the security guard. In a split second, I instead veered into his office behind the glass to say goodbye for the last time. I cringed as I did it realizing what a goofball he would think I was. I suspected he didn’t even know my name. But I was already through the doorway, so I kept going. I told him it was my last day and put out my hand to take his in mine. He stood up out of his chair and wrapped his big papa bear arms around me and gave me a great big papa bear hug. In the most endearing southern accent he said, “I’m sho gonna miss ya Miss. You never know how much ya smile every mornin’ meant to me,” and he sighed a small sigh.
Your faith walk truly can be just bringing the light of His presence into a dark situation with a smile.
There was a day when I thought I was right
The world was perfect through my eyes
and everyone else was distorted
I tried to fit them into my view
but they were always bent
One day a Savior came in
And gave me His eyes
And I saw my folly
Perfection can only be seen through the eyes of the Creator
Hello and welcome to my blog! I started this blog to serve you; to serve everyone who is searching for ways to deepen their walk with God. He has *blessed* me with many opportunities to deepen my faith in Him… which translated means I have been wrung through the ringer enough times to fill a small library. And apparently that’s exactly what He’s called me to do – to create this *library* for you, to share the stories of His glory. For each time I made it through the ringer, He succeeded in squeezing out yet another undesirable aspect of my personality, belief system, dependencies, behaviors, attitudes, world view. I’ll share with you how He helped me overcome major barriers in my life: healing from childhood abuse, restoring a disintegrated marriage, breaking the gripping fear of putting control of my finances into His hands. I’ll share tidbits and inspirational stories with real, tangible things you can actually do. I’ll share what my life looks like every day as I continue to walk and grow on this journey.
I truly love many of the inspirational and thought provoking quotes I’ve heard over the years, but I often find myself thinking, “ok, now what do I DO to live that out?” Since my goal is to give you actionable things you can do to move forward in your journey, I’ll jump right in, here in the first blog. This first one is super simple. Before you get out of bed every morning, simply think or say to Him, “Good morning Father. I welcome you into my life right now and to walk this day with me”. That’s it! It is a beautiful yet simple act of walking in obedience to His telling us to seek Him first in all things. Just inviting Him into your life every day allows Him to begin His transforming work in your life.
Let His glory in your life unfold!