Love Does not Keep a Marriage Together

Love does not keep a marriage together.  I know that is what we all want to believe. We want to believe in the happy every after and the fairytale endings. But fairytales don’t tell the rest of the story.  Marriage is hard.

What right do I have to talk about marriage? I am not a marriage counselor. I am married, but I have not been married long, only six years. That is not a long time in the large scheme of life. We work hard to make our marriage stronger every day, but as in all marriages, some days we have more conflict than other days. Some days we try harder than other days. We love each other, though there are many days where we really don’t appreciate each others’ actions. There are times we are rude to each other and say things that we do not mean. I don’t say all this to berate marriage or bash my husband (it is a two way street), but I only want to be real with you, and this is the honest truth. I love my husband with all my heart, but that is not the reason I stay married to him.

I challenge anybody who says their marriage has been easy the entire time they have been married. They are lying. They are either lying to themselves or they are lying to you.

Don’t get me wrong, marriage has many good merits. I don’t mean to discourage anybody thinking about getting married. I do mean for you to think, to think long and hard why you want to get married and why you want to marry the person you want to marry. I want you to talk to each other and know that your opinions will probably change and that you will not always agree and you will probably forget to talk about the things you should talk about before you get married and during marriage.

This is not a lesson in how to make your marriage work or a check list of what to do before you get married. This is just the truth.

Lately, this subject has been on my heart. This season of young children has not been an easy one for my husband and I. We find ourselves, at times, disagreeing more than agreeing and we often find ourselves blaming each other instead of encouraging each other. Maybe this subject has been on my heart because I know of several newly married and young married people getting a divorce or talking about divorce. I know of some marriages that I thought were strong that are faltering and are on the brink of breaking up. I know of many women scorned and hardened and bitter about their previous marriage(s), and probably justly so.  It makes me sad; my heart breaks for them.

That brings me back to the point.

Love will not keep your marriage together.

It takes much much more than love. Marriage takes commitment, sacrifice, perseverance, and hard work. Lots of it!  You have to choose to work through your conflict and make your marriage work! Don’t compare your marriage to others and don’t pretend to be something you are not.  In this world of social media, all we see are glimpses of the good and the happy in people’s lives. Rarely do you see the whole picture.  A picture is not always worth a thousand words. Have you ever taken a picture and right before you snapped the picture,you were all fighting or the toddler was screaming or the teenager was sulking? Or have you ever been in a feud with your husband, then walked into church and put on the happy church mask?  People rarely take pictures of their kid in a tantrum or their husband with the other woman. They don’t usually take pictures of their house with laundry piles everywhere. I’m not saying we should post these things, and I’m especially not saying to get on social media or with your friends and bash your husbands or wives and hash out your spouse’s latest failings.  That is neither healthy, nor productive. I’ve heard of these said groups, and while I don’t try to be fake on my social media accounts, I do try to be real and positive. The world or your mother or your sister do not need to hear about your latest argument or the latest thing your spouse did to wrong you. I’m not saying to never discuss these situations with a trusted friend or mentor. However, I do believe that those moments should mostly be between you, your spouse, God and a licensed therapist, if necessary.

Yes, marriage is hard. It takes sacrifice and a whole lot of sweat!  You may wonder, why am I saying all this?  Haven’t I talked about how sweet and helpful my husband has been?  Yes, and he is, much of the time. But many times, he is not. Many times he fails me and yes, many times, more than I can count, I fail him. But you know what? We choose to stay together. We choose to work on our conflict and work on our marriage.  We both acknowledge that we are not perfect (most of the time). As stated before, I do not want to berate marriage or my husband, I just want people to know the truth, the real genuine truth.

Your husband is probably not going to pick up his shoes; your wife may never put your clothes away and they may constantly be wrinkled. Your husband may withdraw when he gets home from work or spend more time then you like in front of electronics. Your wife may insult your parenting skills.  Your husband will probably forget to pick up the milk. Your wife will probably bust your budget.

But marriage is from God, and only good comes from God.

“Have you not heard that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19: 4-6

Marriage is good. Marriage allows for unconditional love by choice. Marriage opens your heart and mind to other perspectives and other ways of doing things. Marriage is someone who is there for you when a loved one dies or when you are laid off or your dreams are crushed or your children go astray. Marriage is someone who supports you and stands up for you. Marriage is waking up to the same person everyday with morning breath and morning gas, and disheveled hair and no make up. Marriage is the man or woman cleaning up vomit on the carpet at two am. It is all these things and more.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

Do you ever wonder why there are so many comparisons to marriage in the Bible?  God knows we need someone to slap us in the face sometimes (not literally). He knows we need unconditional love and great mercy. Oh the mercy we need, daily.  Perhaps God meant to show a glimpse of his unbounding merciful love and sacrifice for us. That he will love us no matter how much we argue with him, no matter that we fail daily. He sacrificed his Son. There is no greater love than that.  To lay down your life.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 38-39

You know what else, Satan does not want your marriage to succeed.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spirituals forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6: 11-12

For if your marriage succeeds, then it is a testament to the one true living God. A testament that there is a God and he is powerful and merciful and just. God will see you through all that the devil throws at you!  When you feel your marriage is failing, please don’t give up;  keep praying and trying. For it is more than love that will see you through.

Prayer:

Oh, God,

Hear our prayers. Know we are sinners daily and we need your mercy daily. Teach us to love unconditionally like you and to practice great mercy daily. Be with our marriages and keep Satan out of them.  Amen

What are some ways that God has sustained your marriage?

 

Thank you for reading! Please share with those who might be struggling!

The Middle of Nowhere: How I Learned to Love More

I’m visiting grandparents this week. They live in the middle of nowhere at least 5 miles down a country dirt road. I am not exaggerating! This is not where I grew up, my dad moved here for his job my freshman year in college.

Everything here seems so much more expansive. You can see stars for miles. You can see all sorts of creatures. We see birds, flowers, bees, spiders, lizards, raccoons, and even the occasional deer or fox.  Of course we can see most of these at home, but somehow it seems more impressive, more expansive, bigger.

Life is slower. There is no rushing here and there, partly because it’s the way of life, and partly because there are just not that many choices. You can only drive so fast over a 5 mile gravel road with potholes. There is so much to do, yet so little. My daughter has a huge forest land to run and play in, a nature park right outside the door. “Granny” has tons of old toys and books which are completely new to my daughter.  There are birds to watch, lizards to catch, bees to run from. There is plenty of space to throw a ball that does not entail mommy chasing it down a steep hill (our current home situation)! The best part of all: there are at least 2 other people to give her attention: Granny and Granddaddy!

I love my city, my house, my life. I don’t wish to move to the country (though I would not rule it out), but the country is a nice place to visit. This country place reminds me of just how beautiful life can be. It shows me how to be present and oh, how the opportunities abound for teaching about how awesome our God is. How majestic is His name!

“Can you count the stars?”  “Isn’t it amazing how God made all these stars.” “Look how many variety of flowers there are; it looks like a painting.” “How great is it that God gave you so many people who love you.”   “Look how God made the lizards and spiders.”

This country place makes me stop. It makes me slow down. This place reminds me to appreciate the world God has given to me and to respect it. It reminds me to share my love of God with my children and with others.  There is something about an old porch swing that gives you answers, answers that were in front of me all along.

1. Point out God’s wonder and beauty around you. God made the butterflies, the stars, and you. Just like you can’t count the stars, you can’t measure how great is God’s love for you.

2.  Spend Thirty Minutes a Day with your loved ones.  I’m currently reading Purposeful Parenting, by Jean S. Barnes. She suggests to spend 30 minutes a day with our loved ones.

“Practicing the Thirty Minutes a Day Rule became intentional- and turned into so much more. By intentionally making thirty minutes a day for simply delighting in one another, we learned how to really pay attention to each other in snatches too…. Looking for ways to give one another undivided attention became a lifestyle, and it strengthened our relationships just like layer upon layer of glue holds things together, because nothing makes the ones you love feel more cherished than your attention, your constant practice of being there. In being there, I discovered another wonderful practice in how to show the kind of love that’s transforming. This practice is about seizing extraordinary moments that might otherwise pass you by as ordinary. It’s about seeing the cracks in your child’s soul, where values, discoveries, and new ideas can be planted and begin to seep in and take root.”

I say we take this a little further, and also apply it to significant others or anyone else we may be living with at the moment, be that a roommate, a parent, or sibling.

3. Pray in the moment. In the serenity of the country, I was looking at Facebook (ironic, I know!), and I saw a post from a friend whose son is having surgery. I showed my daughter the picture of the little boy and I said, “He is sick. He needs our prayers.” Then we prayed right then. I had never done this before. It must have been God given. I think it did leave an impression on my 3 year old, but it taught me so much more.

4. Accept distractions.  Though the country is quiet at times, often it really is not. You have tree branches creaking, birds chirping, porch swings rocking, bees and hummingbirds buzzing. At night there is the wind blowing when it is stormy, frogs and crickets singing their melody. And the occasional cougar screaming (yes there are cougars in that part of the world). Owls may hoot and woodpeckers are pecking, but though the wind may be blowing through the trees, the distractions are different. It is the distraction of just watching in amazement at the bumblebees for 20 minutes as my sister and daughter did; it is the finding of extraordinary large pine cones and the variety of flowers all around you. It is the distractions of chasing the squirrels and raccoons off the bird feeders. Yes it is a different distraction, one that is God given.

I recently attended a conference where the one thing that stuck out to me was that our children our an interruption ministry. That has changed how I look at parenting. Instead of being annoyed every time I am interrupted while cleaning the dishes or doing laundry (these tasks will take me all day, if finished at all), if I look at my children as a ministry, it changes my whole demeanor.

5. Tell them you love them. This goes for more than just your children, but includes your friends, your spouse, your siblings and parents. We all need to hear that someone loves us. God did not make us to be solitary people, he made us to be loved and to love. Tell those that are important to you that you love them. All the time. Everyday.  I love you even when… I love you especially when…. I love you all the time.

Thanks for reading! Please share with those who need to hear these words!

You Are Good Enough!

You are good enough! It is as simple as that, you are good enough. That is what this week is all about, learning to value ourselves. Recently, I have heard way too many indications of women telling themselves they are not good enough.  It is a lie and it angers me beyond comprehension!  It saddens me, and breaks my heart.  Every time I turn around, I hear another woman saying what they don’t like about themselves, how somebody made fun of them, how they have never felt they had value, and how afraid they are to voice their opinions for fear of others disapproving!  You are good enough, and anyone who makes you feel like you are not, does not deserve to be in your life. This week, I am going to tell you why you are beautiful and why you matter!  If I have to shout it from the rooftops, I want you to know that you matter, no matter where you are in life. You are loved, and you have far more value than you give yourself. Let’s not continue to pass this lack of self-value to our children and our children’s children.  I don’t know about you, but I want my daughter to know, beyond doubt, that she has value and to not let anyone, and I mean, anyone make her feel inferior. She is loved, and all of you are loved. None of us are perfect, but we are all beautiful!

1. There is none other like you.  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

2. You are more precious than money or diamonds. “She is more precious than rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10)

3. You are forgiven! (So give yourself a break!) You do not have to be perfect, and you do not always have to have it all together!  Jesus bore our sins for us.   “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  (Luke 23:34)

4.  You are beautiful!  “Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 6: 28- 30)

5. You are loved UNCONDITIONALLY!  “And I am convinced that NOTHING can EVER separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not EVEN the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, NOTHING in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38-39)

If those scriptures are not enough evidence (and their are countless others) for you, then read the following:

1. One of my favorite all time books is “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” by Meg Meeker, M.D. (http://www.amazon.com/Strong-Fathers-Daughters-Secrets-Father-ebook/dp/B000X16PVE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434394621&sr=1-1&keywords=strong+fathers+strong+daughters)  It is written for fathers and daughters, but it has so much deeper meaning in all the chapters. I strongly encourage you to read it, let your daughters, sons, and spouses read it as well.  One of my favorite quotes (and there are many) is: ” “So remember that when she pushes hard against your rules, flailing, crying that you are mean or unfair, she is really asking you a question: Am I worth the fight, Dad? Are you strong enough to handle me? Make sure she knows the answer is yes.”  Let’s take back our children, especially our daughters, and make sure they never forget that they know they are worth the fight!

2. Stop comparing yourselves to others and know that you are worth it, you have a story, and you have a purpose! Know the truth, and don’t let go!  Thanks to the following article for stating it so eloquently: http://moneysavingmom.com/2013/09/three-truths-that-pulled-me-out-of-a-pit-of-insecurity.html

Don’t believe the lie that you are not good enough!  Thanks for reading!