Saturday, October 31, 2015
Eric Ludy preached a sermon called "The Wages of Love." I have listened to it multiple times, especially when I feel myself becoming lackadaisical in my relationship with the Lord or with the people closest to me. It's a powerful message, and one that I highly recommend.
Different things always pop out to me each time I listen to it, but one thing that I always remember is how he talks about his wife. He says, "As far as the world is concerned, my wife is flawless." He goes on to talk about he never says anything bad about his wife in public, or tear her down with words. He is her biggest fan in all areas.
That was my prayer before I was married (before Jon was even in my life) that I would never be a wife (or even a girlfriend or a fiancé) that complained about my man when he wasn't around. I tried to start this habit by watching the way I talked about my family members in public. When I started dating, I practiced this as best I could, but it was easy, because while we were dating, he even appeared to me to be almost flawless. (This is not to say we were not honest and transparent with each other about shortcomings, but even his shortcomings looked like heroic and humble displays of God's grace, or something like that. He truly could do no wrong. *Cue the eye-roll*)
However, when we got married, this became much harder. Not because much changed, but because you see the person you married in a more complete way than you were ever able to in the dating atmosphere.
And don't get me wrong, I love it!! I love Jon more every day, and I can't believe how blessed I am, or how I ever happened to catch his attention. He is an incredible man of God, but also super goofy, spontaneous, and thoughtful. While we were dating, I was only able to scratch the surface in discovering the incredible gift God gave me when he put this man in my life.
-- Side-note: I do not want to adopt these ways because I don't want the world to know "the real Jon" or something like that. I want our relationship to be real and for the people in our lives to see us - our victories and our shortcomings - as a testament of God's grace. The reason I want to only talk highly of him in all circumstances is because I only want the world to see the man God is forming him to be. And if they see his flaws, I do not want it to be because his wife put them on display by speaking negatively about him, or even implying that there are flaws to find. --
But even thought this has been my goal, I am still a sinful person. I often get so caught up in my wants and needs that I can focus entirely on the ones that aren't being met (because, for some reason, I expect him to know that I want him to help me clean the kitchen when I say, "Don't worry about it, babe; I'll get it." Shouldn't he be able to read my girl brain by now???) And even more often than that, I am a pro at keeping track of everything I do for Jon and forgetting about what he has done for me. For example, do you know how many times I did the laundry and cleaned the kitchen without him offering help? But I completely forget the times he chooses to stay home with me instead of go out with his friends, or the nights when dinner doesn't work out so he takes me out for GF pizza instead of fussing at me for not having a meal together. Even now, Jon is outside playing with the siblings we're watching so that I can write a quick blog post.
(Gretchen Rubin, in her book The Happiness Project (another recommendation) coins the clever term "unconscious overclaiming": "the phenomenon in which we unconsciously overestimate our contributions or skills relative to other people.")
Jesus said (in Matthew 7), "seek, and you will find." This statement is placed in a string of instructions and encouragements from His Sermon on the Mount, each sentence giving us clues into seeking the Kingdom of Heaven. This seeking and finding refers to salvation, but I had another thought this morning... What if He is also encouraging us to seek the Kingdom of Heaven in our day and in the people around us?
When I am seeking the Kingdom of Heaven in my day, I'm looking for the tiny displays of God's goodness and faithfulness and beauty in the world.
When I am seeking the Kingdom of Heaven in the people around me, I'm looking for the little, over-lookable ways that Christ's characteristics are displayed in them, maybe in ways they aren't even trying.
And when I'm seeking these things, I'm finding them. Not because they start popping up out of thin air, but because they're already there. The only difference is, now I have eyes to see them.
Another point Pastor Ludy makes in his sermon, is that we have been given "gold mines" in our relationships with 1) Christ, 2) our spouse, and 3) our children. But here's the catch: we have to mine the gold. If we want to experience the riches of these relationships, we have to get our hands dirty, be visionaries, and mine the gold that He has hidden in secret places. We have to seek it out.
This is my new mission.
I don't want to become lazy in my relationships and assume that I have discovered all there is to discover.
My walk with the Lord may be years old, but I have not even begun to know the vast riches of His mercy or the unending bounds of His grace, because I so often let myself get comfortable with a casual pursuit.
And there is no way that I know all the great things there are to know about my new husband of only three months.... I have a lifetime of gold to discover! Our relationship is the best earthly relationship I have ever known - and probably ever will now. How could I take it for granted?
I'm going to set out to seek His face in the ways He has hidden Himself in my every day. Not only that, I'm going to seek His face in the ways He is quietly but radiantly being displayed in my husband, so that it will be easy to commend him in the presence of others as flawless.