suffering

Adversity in Marriage

upwithmarriage_adversity-in-marriage4

You know those memes you see on Facebook, the ones that make you feel kind of old, “If you know what this is click like and share.”  This one was a wringer washing machine, in the catalogue, it was advertised to make laundry easier.  I showed it to my oldest daughter, saying, “I remember helping my Grandmother do laundry with this!  It took about two hours to do one load.”

washers

Two hours doesn’t sound very fast, but compared to the washboard – the wringer washer was a gigantic leap forward for domestic work.  Wash day was just that, a whole day.  It took a whole day’s worth of work and cut it to less than half, by removing the hardest part.

Now we complain about so much laundry.  We (me) have the audacity to actually complain about a task that is 95% automated – are you kidding me?!  Just the other day I let out a tsssk as I walked passed the load(S) waiting to be washed.  And I know for a fact other women feel the same about ‘never-ending’ laundry.

ADVERSITY reveals the true me (and you)

No wonder we can’t handle any real problems in life and relationships with grace for others and dignity for ourselves.

  • “It’s too hard, God would never want me to go through THAT.”
  • “I don’t like this, it doesn’t make me happy.”
  • “Why should I have to do that?”
  • “God is a God of justice.  It’s not fair if I have to experience THIS.”

As we resist with each statement (which sound suspiciously like complaining), we get weaker and less able to actually conquer whatever situation we are in.  The more we focus on just ourselves and the difficulty of the task, the more impossible the circumstance becomes.  We lose sight of the big picture and our place in it.  Forgetting that it was God Who chose us, and what role He placed us in.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:28-29)

The word adversity captures a wide range of circumstances – from a minor inconvenience to a catastrophe. Whatever the size or discomfort of the difficulty, it does the same thing – it pushes us against the barrier of our comfort zones, thins our skin and forces out a response.

ADVERSITY had revealed the complainer in me

Had I really complained about the laundry as I was climbing the stairs?  Yes.  Something so small and benign.  I hadn’t seen that in myself and it caught me off guard.  I don’t think God views any complaining as small or inconsequential.  Complaining used to be a big problem for me – not so much anymore.  But apparently, there was still a sliver there that needed to be exposed and removed before it spread further.  The virus of sin is like that.

How could I conquer evil with good and be strengthened with gratitude, if I couldn’t even see past a few puny piles of laundry to the blessing of fully automated equipment?  Don’t get me wrong, I know dirty clothes aren’t evil – but the complaining part is.

Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.  Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. (1 Cor 10:9-10)

Complaining is a fruit of wrong focus – it proves to myself that I’m making it all about me when there is so much to be grateful for:

  • the fact that I do have a fully automated washing machine (and dryer), instead of having to use a wringer washer or a washboard, or go to the laundromat.
  • that my husband has bought the best set.
  • speaking of him, he’s healthy and has a fantastic job.
  • the blessing of all my kids and that they are healthy.
  • that we all have an abundance of clothes!

I could go on and on, but you get what I mean.  When I set my focus on the benefits, gratitude will naturally grow instead of self-pity.

ADVERSITY will help or hinder

I think we can all agree:  People have no control over others and no power to change them.  It’s a good thing, for a couple of reasons.

(1) When you accept how little control you have over circumstances, and the people involved in them, your faith grows—you become a different person.  The more you trust God, the more you mature.  Yes, there’s characteristics we don’t care for in people, behaviours and habits that create adversity in our relationships – conflict with our husbands, but, you’ve got to ask yourself:

Do I really want someone else to have the power to change me?

(2) Because that’s the deal.  If I get the power to change my husband – then he gets just as much power to change me.  My answer would be, no – I only want God to have that power, He’s the only one that can see my heart (and Darrell’s) from a complete perspective. (Psalm 139:16)

SOUL-utions:

KNOW:  I say this lots and I’ll say it again:  We’re going to have trials, turmoil and hurt in our marriages, we’ve got to accept it – we’re told, plainly.  We all have our fair share, God hasn’t picked out some for more hardship or troubles than anyone else.  Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. (1 Peter 4:12)

ACCEPT:  Be open to what God shows you about own heart when you’re in trials; not what you see in your husband’s heart. God already knows the both of you, He wants you to see your own.  But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.   (1 Sam 16:7)

LET GO:  We hinder ourselves by focusing on the things in our husbands that we want to change.  The most helpful thing we can do is to let go of this perceived power.  A wife affects real change in marriage through influence, not control.  In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives. (1 Peter 3:1)

 

Rsignature

Desire to please

upwithmarriage_desire-to-please

A guaranteed way to get into my heart is to treat my kids well … or even my dogs.  People are especially drawn to you when you value what they love.

Special treatment of who I love endears you to me.

When I value people who God’s chosen, I show that I love Him.  Treating any of His kids, a brother or a husband, poorly doesn’t endear me to God. Instead, it draws His corrective eye.

Parents in the natural, siblings in the supernatural

As a parent when one of my kids mistreats their sibling in retaliation, especially when the offending sibling is not mature or is not emotionally strong, it shows me that child is lacking in something.  I don’t think any parent – including God – wants to see their kids exacting revenge on each other.

And, being made in God’s image, it makes sense that our parenting outcomes would be similar to His – we want our kids to grow up and do well.  We want them to do right, to others and to do right, for themselves.  In our marriage, God is the Father of us both, a son and a daughter, and He wants both His kids to grow up and do well – for ourselves and to each other.  But if my brother sins against me and I choose to not reflect Christ in my response (Rom 8:29) I will draw God’s parenting corrective eye rather than endearing myself to Him and making Him proud of me.

Choose – think – act

As soon as my marriage became truly about God, a spark was ignited which fueled my desire to be a better wife. It seemed to be a very natural progression, a win/win.  I’m not saying it was an effortless progression, we’re still required to flesh out things in our lives, but at least now, I could see the plan.  It’s similar to getting healthy. Just reading about working out and proper nutrition won’t make you healthy.  You need to first have the desire, then get the knowledge, and finally, fulfill the activity of the knowledge – it’s still going to be work even though you can see the direction you’re going.

In this example, I’m after the corollary of good health and activity:  A lean(er) fit body.

I’m betting since you read Upwithmarriage, you already have God at the center of your life and He was probably a part of your wedding day. But has He been moved to the hub that your role as a wife rides on in the marriage?

Once God occupies that position, you will naturally choose better thoughts.  With better thoughts, you automatically speak better words.  My desire to please God – better thoughts – better words – better treatment of my husband – God’s pleased.  It starts and ends with God but our proof is in the middle.

Flesh or Spirit

It always comes down to that fight inside of us, doesn’t it?  Am I going to position myself in that hub or am I going to willingly let God have it?  I found out, He won’t fight you for it – He doesn’t work that way.  Just like your choice to accept Jesus Christ for your life, you have to willingly hand over the position, over and over again.

The question we have to continually ask is:  Which desire is stronger?  The desire to get our own way by doing it our own way – to please the flesh.  Or the desire to do it God’s way by following Christ’s way – to please the Spirit.

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day.  –Paul to the Galatians

I recently attended a webinar from Jeff Goins.  He had lots of great information, but it was a question he asked at the beginning that resonated with me for marriage:  “Are you looking for an excuse, or are you looking for success?  Because you’ll find whichever one you are looking for.”

As long as I was determined to have Darrell’s problems always be the excuse, our marriage was moving in the direction of failure.  But when I set my sights on God for my success as a wife, the direction of our marriage changed to success.

The truth is, whether you think positive or negative about your husband, either way you are right.  Don’t underestimate the effect you have on him – it’s profound in ways you can’t imagine.

upwithmarriage_desire-to-please

Rsignature

When all esle fails …

 

make it work

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

1 Corinthians 13:7

I WILL:

  • cover you in protection while we figure this out
  • believe that God can be trusted with this
  • wait in full confidence and expectation from God
  • remain with you and not move on without you

The enemy wants you to devour your husband

– fight back with love.

 

 

A vision beyond today

Ansel Adams Photography

Ansel Adams Photography

God can do anything

  • Is anything too hard for the LORD? -Genesis 18:14
  • For with God nothing shall be impossible. -Luke 1:37

God’s ways are outside our comprehension

  • For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. –Isaiah 55:9

We can’t see our own story accurately

  • Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror … All that I know is partial and incomplete -1 Corinthians 13:12

We are living by faith and not our circumstances

 
“Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”
-G.K. Chesterton

Be the change

changeisgood

I came across this quote the other day and was caught by its simplicity:  Be the change you want to see.  So, I did some digging to find authorship.  Apparently it’s anonymous as there’s no real evidence linking to Ghandi‘s actual writings, which is typically who we credit it to.  This is a little closer to his words

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

Either way, it‘s a good quote and has merit because there are some interesting nuggets of truth in it.

But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. -Phil 2:7

God wanted us to change, so Jesus became human and lived a human life to show us how to do it.  God didn’t just say, be human and these rules will help you.  He demonstrated it by becoming the change He told us to be.

BE & DO

How would you like your husband to be towards you?  Be the first to ignite that change.  Whatever it is you want to see more of in your marriage, don’t wait for it to be done and then reciprocate.  Plan to be the first to do exactly that.  Do that change.

Here is a simple rule of thumb for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and DO it for them! -Luke 6:31 (emphasis added)

Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you BE kind. -Luke 6:36 (emphasis added)

GIVE

This one’s a bonus, there’s a reward promised!  The trick though, is to start the ball rolling.  There’s a loose paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 11:1 that says, “if you cast your bread on the water it’ll come back buttered.”  Whatever you want to receive in your marriage, be the first to give it.

Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. -Luke 6:38

Change is good, but getting there is painful.  In order for Jesus to be the change for the world, He had to first struggle to chose it; then be obedient to the point of death to give it.  (Luke 22:42-44; Philippians 2:8)  God exacted a price; it was the life of Christ.  To say that it was painfully hard for Jesus, would be an incredible understatement.  We’ve been told straight up by God, that His purpose is to re-shape us into the likeness of Christ.  And we know, in order to share in Christ’s glory we will share in the suffering too.  If it’s me who sees the need for change in my marriage then I need to be that change.

 

Into the deep

wavesb

Remember swimming as a kid?  You stretched out your leg to touch bottom … and it wasn’t there!  Maybe your eyes got wide with fear and you felt that instant panic start to whirl in your gut!  It was terrifying, if only for a brief moment, until you regained your footing.

He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. -Matthew 14:29

Jesus invited Peter to do what was impossible — walk on water.  Peter, a seasoned fisherman!  He’d just worked all night and came up empty – he knew that he knew that he knew, there just aren’t any fish there.  (Luke 5:4-5)

In both cases Jesus told Peter to do what seemed impossible and what was impossible.

Jesus invited Peter to trust.  Jesus invites us to trust.  Step into the unknown.  Step deep, where you don’t know what will happen.  Step deep, where there is nothing underneath you.  Step deep where your fear will well up in you.

REALITIES ABOUT STEPPING INTO THE DEEP

It’s Risky

So please tell them you are my sister.  Then they will spare my life and treat me well because of their interest in you. -Genesis 12:13

Sarah had a decision to make; a forced decision.  Not due to anything she had done, but because of how beautiful God had created her.  Abraham had enjoyed that beauty so long as it was good for him, but as soon as it became a liability, he sold her out.  Because of Abraham‘s fear and tendency to lie under pressure (it happened twice), he asked her to sacrifice herself rather than sacrificing himself.  Sarah chose to risk.  There will be risk when you put the needs of your spouse ahead of your own.

 

It’s Radical

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.  If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.  Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do.  “I’ll do the judging,” says God.  “I’ll take care of it.”   Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink.  Your generosity will surprise him with goodness.  Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. -Romans 12:17-21

We all know what Jesus is saying here, we just don’t like what it means and how it will make us look, especially when it‘s applied to marriage.

A deep step will cause you to appear different from those around you.  I don’t mean you’ll look like a religious ‘geek’ or a throw-back from the 1950/60s.  There is a love that the world won’t allow but it will show up in your relationships.  It will supernaturally funnel its way through you like it did with Jesus.  Radical mercy doesn’t fight for its own rights.  Radical grace is about others, not self.  Radical love doesn’t consider how it was wronged, only about how others are going to be hurt by God’s revenge, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” -Luke 23:34.  It will look radical when consider your spouse ahead of yourself.

It’s Counter-intuitive

And when those who belonged to Him (His kinsmen) heard it, they went out to take Him by force, for they kept saying, He is out of His mind (beside Himself, deranged)!   And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, He is possessed by Beelzebub, and, By [the help of] the prince of demons He is casting out demons. -Mark 3:21-22

The deep you step into will feel crazy and people will back up this notion.  To your human senses it’s unpreserved and unprotected.  The ones closest to you will appeal to your sense of self-protectiveness.  People will say you are crazy and not hearing from God; but Satan.  It’s the voice of the world, not the Spirit, that says choose self.  It will feel counter-intuitive to choose your spouse over yourself.

The Outcome is Unknown

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.  Hebrews 11:1

If we knew the outcome beforehand, we wouldn’t need faith.  The deep we step into will always be a weakness and that’s what scares us.  Like standing in a lit room when the lights go out; engulfed in darkness, there’s no way to tell what the outcome will be, only God knows.  Being blind in the natural strengthens your confidence in God.

God Knows What Your Deep is

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.  -1 Corinthians 10:13

Everyone’s deep is different because we are all growing from different places in our relationship with God.  Our deep feels deep because it is weak.  Those particular faith muscles are small, but will be bigger and stronger after you step into the deep.  We miss-step and fall and God knows that, that’s why Jesus is there!  On the water with the waves that toss and threaten to overtake the boat.  See here where Peter was invited to walk!

Peter’s storm can be a metaphor of what it might feel like inside ourselves during a turbulent circumstance or relational crisis.  And the more chop there is, the greater the temptation is to try and escape.  To run back to the boat … away from Jesus.  If the choice is to leave the ’storm’ and run back to the boat of protection, a way to endure is not needed – God is not needed.

When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. -James 1:2-4