Belong and Become Stories: Looking Inward

This week I’m sharing some stories….stories of life change.  Stories about God’s activity in people’s lives.  Stories that I get to hear often, but maybe you don’t.  Our Heavenly Father is actively at work changing hearts and lives, and I want you to know it!

Today, I want to share a story of one woman’s decision to honor God in her marriage.  Check it out:

Just like most people, our life is really busy, and those demands can be taxing on a marriage. I felt slighted by my husband and like I was at the bottom of his list.  And, he might have felt like he was at the bottom of mine.  Let’s be honest, it’s hard.  This frustration led to me nagging and turning a spotlight on all the things that were NOT perfect in our lives.  I understood logically that no marriage was perfect, but in my heart I thought that we could be the exception to that if only my husband would do this and if only my husband would do that.  Soon our inside jokes and laughter were replaced with arguments and hurt feelings.  We both began to see negative attributes in each other and were really out of sync.  I had been crying off and on over actual issues, as well as some perceived issues.  I did not like who I had become in my relationship with my husband, and quite frankly some days I didn’t like him.  On the surface, I was trying to make it right, but I had forgotten one crucial ingredient – God’s love for us and for our marriage. 

I realized that I had to invite God back into our marriage.  I began praying my way out of dark moments.  When I felt myself sinking back down into the judgment and mistrust, I would pray fast and fervently no matter where I was that God would come in and be the Master of my heart and my feelings towards my husband.  I actually put into daily practice some advice Shawn had given: simply “assume the best” of your spouse.  When we start snapping at each other over some small slight, try not make a mountain out of it.  It really helps me to remember that my husband and I chose each other and I trust him to love me, and he trusts me to love him.  With that trust is the promise to “assume the best” about each other.  Can I just tell you how hard this is initially? 

Tricia’s good advice to me at one point was to put a pretty face on and greet my husband with the love and affection of our early days without asking for anything in return.  I have to be honest with you here.  When Tricia told me that it really made me kind of mad.   I didn’t want to put on a pretty face and work on MY behavior…I wanted my husband to fix his behavior!  But, I listened and I prayed A LOT that God would work in ME. 

Little by little I started to feel the change in myself.  I felt kinder.  I didn’t feel as paranoid.  I felt good about me. That’s when it all came together: I can only fix me – no one else. I had to measure my own behavior by God’s standards.   As I started to feel confident about my own relationship with the Lord and the change He had placed in my heart, it became more noticeable in my interactions with my husband as well. 

Kindness is contagious, and as I worked to show him my affection he began to reciprocate.  Little by little our dialogue changed and our dynamic changed, as well.  It still isn’t perfect, but we feel like us again.  We are still learning and of course, we are still way too busy, but with God’s grace we actually still like each other.   A LOT.  The truth is this: my marriage is being transformed!

Are you trying to fix everyone else’s behavior, or are you allowing God to mold you into the person He desires you to be?  This sweet lady figured it out: we all have to measure our behavior by God’s standard.  Take a lesson from my friend, and spend a little time looking inward, rather than outward.

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