15 Years of Marriage…and the Lies That Add Up

(Ooh, I didn’t mean to make such a scandalous title but now that it’s there, I just can’t erase!) It’s okay, you’ll see where I’m heading as you read on…

Jack and I are celebrating our 15th Anniversary tomorrow, New Year’s Day! I can’t believe it’s been 15 years. I will never forget that snowy day in a packed church where we, with such hope in our eyes, said “I do.” No one could have told us what would come next, what trials we’d face, what mistakes we’d make…we just had to experience it for ourselves.

And along the way, along with the surprises, doesn’t the enemy of our souls just enjoy coming in and devouring that hope, those promises?

The lies do begin to add up as he whispers fears and blame…and after 15 years, I’ve finally learned to call him out and let him know I’m not afraid of these words. They have no hold on me. My choice is made because I bend my thoughts and will and desires to another whisper. Do these lies seem familiar at all to you?

Lie #1…”We have nothing in common.” For me and Jack, this “lie” has lots of truth in it. We are hilariously opposite in truly almost every way. Extrovert, introvert. Hot all the time, cold all the time. Owns seven screens, happy with one. Steak, salad. Small talk, heart talk. Jokes, blogs. Midnight, 9:30. So guess what? This doesn’t have to be a problem. It’s all about perspective. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us there are different kinds of gifts, and that the Body of Christ is made up of many parts–and no one could do their part well without the other members doing their part well. That’s how it can be in a marriage, too. We can appreciate the way our spouse thinks whether we understand it or not. They are an individual first before they can be a member of a partnership. I like myself, and I like being an individual first. I have every intention of hanging onto what makes me ME. So, in the same spirit, I have been learning to value Jack and his opinions, strengths, and even weaknesses, as I want mine to be considered and accepted. I don’t want to put my convictions on anyone anymore. I get my one life, and so does everyone else! The only thing we need in common is loving Jesus, each other, and our family. That’s the truth to cancel out this lie!

Lie #2…”He’s changed.” Well…yeah. That happens to people over a decade and a half. The only way I could recognize Princess Leia in the most recent Star Wars movie was by her eyes. And she’s just as beautiful…but obviously she’s changed through the years. Someday that’ll be us. And not just our physical appearances, but we all evolve through time mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially. We aren’t always going to like what we’ve become or what our spouse has become. But here are three things I’m learning to do to combat this lie.

First, we go to God’s Word, which reminds: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive what grievances you may have…” (Colossians 3:12-13) We are MUTUALLY accepting, having compassion, being patient, with ONE ANOTHER. Do I really think he’s the only one who has changed, who has built up a mound of grievances and idiosyncrasies? Whether I see it or not, I am being loved and accepted as I myself work to love and accept. As we love and accept even things we don’t like (I’m obviously not talking about sin, evil, abuse, etc) people tend to unfold, and their layers come off. They let go of defenses and you connect. It’s a beautiful thing to see someone free to become who they really were meant to be, and they will never become that if someone is pressing them. It’s scary, it feels risky, but it’s really good. It’s offering to someone what you would hope they would offer you as you grow into the best version of yourself.

Second, we pray! When we pray for our spouses, no matter how long it takes for fruition, our perspective and heart toward them changes very quickly. I have seen so many times where I chose to not start a difficult conversation, but prayed for several days or weeks instead, only to see my husband’s countenance change and he himself bring up the problem for us to discuss. We can trust the Lord, He’s a good Father! He knows what we need, and He loves our spouses and is quite capable of speaking to them! (I love and recommend the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian!!)

Third, we set our hearts to serve and obey the Lord with our own lives first. I can’t live Jack’s life for him and I’m not supposed to. He has duties that are not mine to perform. I can support him by doing what is on my plate faithfully and joyfully, and trust him and the Lord with what is really not mine to worry about or accomplish.

And last but not least, Lie #3…”If I had married so-n-so, I’d have…” Ugh. This one’s really a sad and desperate attempt of the enemy to get us when we’re down, because we rationally know there’s no way to know what would have happened if we had chosen a different path. We never know what someone else’s home life is truly like either. This thought, this lie, is a mirage in the desert. I think I could have been happy with several different guys that I liked in college and Jack could have been happy with several different girls he liked, too. Why? Because we CHOOSE to be happy. “God’s will” for our lives wasn’t one choice 15 years ago, His will for our lives is right now, every single day. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us what God’s will is for us: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is God’s will for us. In what we chose, or in whatever situation we find ourselves in somehow, this is God’s will for us. Our active stance is to take joy, pray, and give thanks.

 

The lies have a way of adding up if we listen to them, but so does God’s Word. We can go from strength to strength, building precept upon precept, living out the love He gives, without condition.

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#HowToBuild: The Living Word

“…We are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss…Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple?” 1 Corinthians 3:9-16

We are in the building process, every day, through the circumstances God allows into our lives, but also through the choices we make to add layer upon layer onto our faith!

One choice that we must make in order to build (and build upon) a firm foundation is to be daily and regularly in the Word of God.

Communication between us and God is set in motion when we are in His Word. There is always something new and always something more, if reading is accompanied by openness to the Holy Spirit. If we ask Him directly for His input, He will open new truth that speaks to the current status of our heart and life! I have that much confidence in the Holy Spirit/Word of God duo!!! If the Word feels dull, confusing, irrelevant, infuriating, boring, or even wrong, we can tell Him how we feel. The Word is alive, interactive, and meant to bring conversation with Him.

Being in the Word of God is one of the main ways we can hear God’s voice, because His Word IS His voice! When we have begun to recognize His voice in Scripture, we begin to hear Him speak outside of it, too. A thought while we’re driving the car, an answer to a particular prayer or question. Reading His Word is one of the main ways we can learn to differentiate between which thoughts (and even words from others that are directed toward us) are from God and which need to be dismissed and forgotten. It gives us an innate discernment, what is called the “mind of Christ”, because our hearts are melding into His as we read more and more about what He loves and hates. It grows in us a change of opinion when our opinions were wrong. It grows in us a softness where there needs to be mercy and a fierce determination where there is meant to be justice. His Word is living and active. It goes in and it changes things. It is the nutrient our souls were meant to ingest daily! I can’t help but think of the yogurt with the “1 billion acidophilus cultures” in it. The package declares this incredibly wonderful but creepy message: Active bacteria, live cultures! Gee, thanks!! (But really…thanks!) That healthy bacteria that we’re ingesting, as weird as it sounds, is making our digestive system a much happier place. The good bacteria needs to be there to overpower and kill off the bad bacteria that would make us sick. Think of God’s Word, all of it, any of it, as a living and active ingredient that goes in where He knows it needs to go, to whatever parts of our heart need to be cleansed, overpowered with truth and goodness, and made healthy again. And just a side note, most of us don’t get these live cultures in the food we normally eat. Very few restaurants are handing out rejuvenating, life giving food; we have to go out of our way to find it and consume it…hint hint!

Love and respect for the Word of God grows the more we become acquainted with it. Psalm 119 is an intense chapter of appreciation and longing for Scripture. The wisdom and the joy of the writer! He had found something worth going on and on about…!

In different seasons of life, we have to get creative and make being in the Word happen. Here are some ideas and resources for that, just to name a few:

*Listen to podcasts, such as Passion City Church , Martha Kilpatrick , Bethel Church , and Beth Moore. Even if they are just playing in a sometimes-empty room, grab what you can as the Word of God streams through the air of your house!

*Watch preaching and teaching videos. Some of my favorites are: Anyone from International House of Prayer, Kansas City , especially Misty Edwards. We don’t have to agree with every point teachers make on videos we watch, but our hearts will feel if someone is just not lining up with God’s Word. Obviously, not everyone out there with videos online is preaching truth. The more we are in His Word for ourselves, the more we will be able to discern.

*Get involved in group or personal book studies, that dig into one particular topic or book of the Bible. Here’s a good resource: Women of Faith. I have personally always gotten a lot out of Beth Moore studies, but those were my pre-children season type of studies!  I highly recommend them though. I also read books and resources by Martha Kilpatrick regularly. You can find her info on the link above under podcasts.

*Read blogs! The transparency of blogs from people truly seeking God are invaluable! Here are some great ones I read: Ray Hollenbach and Ann Voskamp There are so many I could share, but those are the ones I usually click on when they go through my Twitter feed…

*Hide His Word in your heart. Memorize verses with your family. Write a verse a week on a poster and tape it to the wall next to the dinner table! I never realized the work, honestly, that the Word of God that I had memorized in the past was doing for me all these years. So many times that I had hope or bravery or the words to say, that was a direct result of hiding God’s Word in my heart throughout my life. Some of those verses were learned just so I could earn a piece of candy! Haha!

*Pray His Word…back to Him.

*Sing His Word…out loud!

*Just open it up and read. Daily, if we feel overwhelmed, we can read a Psalm and a chapter from a book of the New Testament for starters, and then see where He leads. There’s no right or wrong way to be in the Word. Sometimes God will keep me on one passage or sentence for weeks. We can’t be all about quantity with this. There are no stickers on any charts here!

I want to share this new song with you that I’ve been writing the past couple of weeks, “Your Voice”.  He is speaking…because He loves to. His Voice, His Word, these are some of the sweetest gifts He could have given us…and they are our’s in abundance.