|Posted by Lorraine Serra on June 29, 2010 at 9:58 AM|
Have you ever meditated on what kind of punishment we would deserve for all our many thoughtless sins, deliberate or accidental, or sins of careless words, or failure to act when we should have?
It's funny how our natural inclination for survival can also perpetuate living in a state of denial when it comes to sin. Sometimes we can be so stuck in habitual sin, so determined to be right, even when we know we are wrong, that a cycle of confusion gives birth to disaster. We want to save face, and pride clouds are vision.
Coming to mind is the challenge of marriage. For my part, there was a time when I was not happy with my spouse. His way of doing things, his relaxed attitude towards circumstances which to me seemed like a crisis. There were times when I thought I should just leave him; I'd be so much happier, and so would he. He had his way of doing things, and thinking about things, and I had mine. Maybe we weren't so compatible after all. Seven years or so into the marriage, life presented the valleys, instead of the mountaintops. The bubble of young love had deflated, not burst, and reality had set in.
Often, walking away from a challenge seems like the easier choice. The grass always looks greener on the other side, til you get close enough to see there are weeds growing over there, too.
My husband and I chose to battle it out, cry it out, pray it out and allow the Lord Jesus to teach us how to surrender first to Him, and then to surrender with respect to one another. It wasn't easy. Did you notice I used the word "battle". Yeah, including screaming fits, silent treatment and slamming doors, and screeching off in cars. We made it, and had a couple of other bumps along the rocky road of life and love a few years later. But now, 33 years later, we've learned how to love one another in all our weaknesses and imperfections. We are slower to anger, quicker to forgive. Just as Jesus is.
The truth is, I'm praying for folks who I know are struggling. It is never easy, no matter how much you think yours is the perfect marriage, some irritation or disagreement will arise to make you entertain those perverse little thoughts.....what if?
May I say that you can go home again, home to the Father through Jesus, and home to your spouse and family. Maybe you are struggling and you just don't know how to get there.
Here is what I have learned:
1. Cry out to the Lord who is merciful. When we measure the price of Jesus' sacrifice for us against our pitiful attempts at dedication and devotion, we are so aware that we are nothing apart from Him. He is the Vine and we the branches. My spouse and I need to daily acknowledge that we are not perfect, and look to Him Who is perfect to set are minds on what is important.
2. Verbalize your repentance: This is hard, but it builds trust and reveals inner thoughts and feelings which must be shared to build intimacy after a breakdown. Pray and write down your sorrow for your own words, attitudes and actions. Each of you. It always takes two to create a conflict. Start by admitting you are both at fault on some levels.
First, address it to the Lord, then address it to your spouse. If you can, agree to sit quietly with one another and listen as each shares verbally and asks forgiveness. If a face to face meeting is just not possible, then deliver the written apology. Acknowledge how your attitude, words and actions have been hurtful to your spouse. But, you've really got to mean it. Allow the wondrous grace and forgiveness of the Lord towards you to flow over into sincere apology to your spouse. Fess up, and admit where you are wrong.
Part of that is acknowledging that sometimes you have taken matters into your own hands instead of trusting God and waiting on Him to order your steps, or work things together for your good, according to Romans 8:28. Stop being a control freak! That was me!!
3. Spend time together with no agenda, just take a walk holding hands, sit on the couch together for a funny movie, or go out to the park with a picnic basket. Lighten up and have fun together, share all the things you love about your spouse. Verbalize your feelings, in small doses. "A kind word turns away wrath." Proverbs 15:1
4. As kindness and gentleness rekindle love, the gifts of the Spirit, brainstorm together how you can put plans in place to relieve the conflicts, stress and disharmony that leads to unhappiness again.
These steps are a starting point, and I acknowledge that many times a professional counselor is necessary. But, our personal experience has resulted in deeper commitment and so many God-stories that we are confident that any relationship built on Christ can be molded and nurtured by His truth when the seekers are sincere in their commitment to the Lord above all. He will give you beauty for ashes. Trust Him.