Regardless of what all the love songs say, it’s not love or even marriage that gives us a purpose for living. Our faith provides that purpose!
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus calls us to very unique priorities.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength!” Mark 12:30 (The Message)
Our marriage must take second place to our pursuit of God. Our first priority is to love God wholeheartedly. Our quest to know and love God is not our mate’s responsibility. It is our own. We are responsible for the growth of our own soul and character.
Over the years, we have come to see how easy it is to profess that we are pursuing God with our whole heart, yet at the same time be half-hearted in our commitment to each other. That does not honor God. Marriage is the context in which we learn to walk out the second priority that Jesus commanded.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
There is no closer neighbor than our spouse. It is in the context of marriage and living with our mate that God teaches us about ourselves, and also about love, forgiveness, discipline, responsibility, boundaries, joy, hope and suffering. He wants to be invited on a daily basis into every aspect of our lives, our hearts, and our relationship.
In many ways, our marriage is a by-product of our quest to know God. That quest rather than leading to perfection, leads us to see our need for a Savior. Rather than making us arrogant, it makes us aware of our need for forgiveness.
Loving God and loving my mate does not mean:
- We will never argue, struggle, disagree, disappoint or lose it with each other
- We will feel connected and in love all the time.
- We will always see eye to eye
- Our marriage will be one intense happiness feast
- We will no longer be irked by each other’s differences
- We will live in a mystical and emotional love story most of the time
- We will never hurt each other again
- We will be immune from trouble, from an affair, from divorce.
- We will only need the Bible and each other.
- We will fit someone else’s definition of a Christian couple
- We will always feel close and intimate with God and each other.
What it does mean is that Jesus is our higher power. Christ inhabits us. The result is that we are constantly recalibrating our attitudes, our choices, and our words to align with God’s will. This reality shows up often in the uncomfortable moments of our relationship.
We are no longer able to feel great about making our spouse the only problem. When we are really upset with our mate, tempted to avoid the question of our need for personal change, and just wanting to blame them, we are faced with a choice. We can do what comes naturally or we can read the Scriptures and choose a different direction. We can ask ourselves the uncomfortable question, “Is there anything I could have done differently?”
Clients have told us over the years that they have made the loving choice, not because their spouse, at that moment deserved it, but because Christ desired it of them. In the process they were transformed and their relationship blossomed.
How we relate to each other, affects our relationship with God. How we relate to God affects our marriage!
Our mutual surrender to Jesus Christ, as Lord of our life, causes us to grow rather than shrink. Our priorities align with our Savior’s.
A precious friend, Ruth Harmes Calkin, who is no longer with us, wrote a poem about the character work that is necessary in a thriving marriage. We hope it blesses you.
It’s rough. It’s tough. It’s work!
Anyone who says it isn’t
Has never been married.
Marriage has far bigger problems
Than toothpaste squeezed
From the middle of the tube.
Grappling, aching, struggling.
It means putting up
With personal weaknesses
And giving each other freedom to fail.
It means turning self-pity into laughter
And taking a walk to gain control.
Gentleness, and joy
Toughness and fortitude
Fairness and forgiveness
And a walloping amount of sacrifice.
Learning when to say nothing
When to stop talking
When to push a little
When to back off.
It means acknowledging
“I can’t be God to you
I need Him too.”
You are the other part of me
I am the other part of you.
We’ll work through
With never a thought of walking out.
Two imperfect mates
In partnership with a perfect God.
Marriage , my love, means US! – Ruth Harms Calkin
Until our next Conscious Lover’s Blog…