Get Your “Self” Out Of Your Marriage by Sonya

dreamstime_xs_11130064

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

 

Our selfish desires and our flesh can get in the way of our marriage and what God intended for it to be. Lately I have been struggling with that, where I feel my needs are just as important or more important than my husband’s needs. I am realizing my needs can be self-centered and trying to have my husband play God to meet those needs.  In reality my husband can’t read my mind and know what I need all the time, only God can play that role. Therefore, focusing on what is in it for me can be so harmful to a marriage or any relationship.

God is in control and He wants the BEST for our marriage. I love the verse,  “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” Ephesians 5:21. This verse describes what a Spirit guided marriage is. We can see that the word “self” isn’t in that verse, but how to be unselfish and submitted to the other person. This is powerful and freeing once we understand the concept. The concept being that it isn’t about us, but our calling to be a husband or a wife to our spouse. This is a calling, how can we serve that person and treat them like God’s son or daughter?  If we can learn to do our job well by being that spouse God called us to be, our selfish desires and wants are put aside because we are getting fulfilled by the Spirit and only God can do that. I have a wonderful husband of eleven years but I have to constantly keep my guard up and block my flesh for getting in the way of our relationship. If I don’t see my selfishness as a problem and let it creep into my marriage, then it can be so harmful and destroy that relationship. Also to stop putting the blame on the other person and realizing we need to work first with ourselves and let God work in your spouse’s heart.

My relationship with my husband is far too important to let sin ruin our relationship. I confess, I have to work at and not focus the blame on him. It is recognizing that I am sinful and I can’t do this without Christ. Taking my mind off of Christ can lead me right back into being selfish again and again. We are human and will make mistakes over and over, but if we can give our marriage to Christ and let Him do the work in us, what a difference that can make.

 

Shortcuts & Selfishness by Bombi

bigstock-Portrait-of-an-African-America-48107387

Photo Courtesy Of: Big Stock Photo

The New Year tends to bring much reflection. One area I often reflect on is how I am doing with parenting. Being a parent is no joke. Once you think you’ve mastered something, another challenge will arise. Maybe you’re the kind of parent that just figures it all out on your own. For me, I tend to seek wisdom from solid parents and of course, my Father God. Recently, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing my awesome husband in action as a parent. Danny has been told time and again what a good kid Noel is, how he’s so well behaved, and that Danny must be doing a good job. You know what? They are right. If you have the opportunity to step behind the closed doors of our little home, there is a diligent father parenting a growing boy who will one day become a man. Something that impressed me right away with Danny’s parenting is how he despises shortcuts in our home and in his life. Simply put, he is against them.  When correcting Noel, he carefully explains that taking shortcuts in life, in homework, in chores, etc., leads to bad places. It cheapens things. It makes you have to go back and do it again when you were capable of doing it right the first time. His message is that shortcuts are time wasters, and boys that constantly take shortcuts will turn into men who are trying to play catch up with life.

It’s some sobering and tough stuff, but it’s good stuff. It gets me thinking about our Father God and how He really wants us to get it, and get it right.  If we don’t He still corrects and loves on us, putting us back on our feet to try again. God’s guidance, or parenting if you will, teaches us about the process of selflessness and living for His kingdom and not our own. Jesus was and is that ultimate example showing us that every single part of the process was necessary, and there were no shortcuts to the cross. All of it, every step of the way, from being a baby born in a manger, to a student learning in the synagogues, to being raised by His parents, being baptized and sent out to minister, to the miracles, the betrayal, the lonely road to Golgotha, the death, burial and resurrection, all of it. He made every step and He didn’t take shortcuts. He didn’t leave anything out. He did it for us. He was showing us that doing things right, and fully, is the way of life, it is the way of love. It is complete.

I think about the ways that God was watching me, knowing there were times when He wanted me to stay on that path, but I turned and took a shortcut. Or the moments when He wanted me to just sit a little longer with Him in His presence, and I got up. I took shortcuts. I walked away from the process. I was living selfish, knowing within that the process brings the promise of love; “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Hebrews 12:6 (NIV)

When I feel like something isn’t fair, and it’s all taking too long, and I don’t want any moment of suffering, I remember my ultimate example of the man who took the selfless, long, narrow road for you and me. He would not skip one step, because He loves us so. So here’s my prayer, “Lord, help me be the parent you have called and created me to be. Let me stay on your path because I am your daughter and child, and you love me so. Let me walk this road the way you want me to. Let me bring others with me on this journey. When I forget my way and want to take a shortcut, remind me that it’s pure selfishness to do this. So give me more of you. You are so selfless. You are the only perfect parent, and I’m glad you’re my father, Amen.”

How Children Shape Us by Sonya

dreamstime_s_17589447
God has been teaching me a lot about myself through parenting. I really thought that my
main focus in parenting was that God was going to use me to shape and mold my kids
and I was going to teach them everything about God.  Boy was I wrong because when I
started parenting I realized they were actually teaching me things about myself. Don’t get
me wrong, yes we want to raise our children to know the Lord and shape their character,
but there is much more to it.
My four children have taught me to be selfless, patient, wise, loving, kind and respectful
and the list goes on. They have shown my weaknesses on a daily basis and how I fail
every day in parenting. God’s grace and love gets me through each day. He strengthens
my character and shapes my soul on a daily basis.  He shapes my soul into being a
woman of God that is devoted to prayer and in His word. I could not parent if I was not in
the word and praying. Each day God has to be at the center and putting Him first allows
my day to go so much smoother.
I am a more mature Christian by being a parent because I realize the act of parenting is
sacrificial and it allows me to see a glimpse of God’s wonderful sacrifice for us all. The
parental sacrifice that Paul speaks of: “Children should not have to save up for their
parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I
have and expend myself as well.” (2 Corinthians 12:14-15)  This is Christ’s sacrifice Paul
is amazed by: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in
me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave
himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) These verses allow me to reshape my thinking about
parenting and how sacrificing our time and energy into our children truly shapes our
character in becoming more Christ like. It tunes us into God’s sacrifice and how He lives
in us through our parenting and as we draw closer to HIM, our children will see His face
in us. This understanding shapes our souls and allows our children to mold us by the
everyday tasks of parenting.
At the end of the day, I want to hear “Well done good and faithful servant” from God.
My youngest daughter says to me almost every day, “Mommy, you are the best parent,”
and I feel God smiles down at me at that moment letting me know that no matter the
mistakes I made that day I am deeply loved by the God of the universe and this 4 year old
girl. It melts my heart and opens my eyes to the spiritual formation that God is using
parenting to make me more holy and shape my soul.

 

God-Centered Spouse by Sonya

dreamstime_xs_27873053

 

As I went through this book with my husband on “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas, it caused me to think in a new way about my spouse.  I learned that marriage comes down to being a God-centered spouse. Our love for each other should come out of our love and reverence for Christ. If we were to both live our life for Christ and act on that throughout our marriage then that would change the way our looked. I know for my marriage it has changed the way I have looked at my husband because I am looking at him through God’s eyes. This is an area I am still working on because I would be happy to do nice things for him when he treated me good. On the other hand, I would not want to do things for him if he treated me bad. This was selfish of me because I would do things only if it was reciprocated back to me and what pleases me, which I had become a selfish spouse. That was no way to live out my marriage.  Then I would do the opposite and try too hard to do things to make him happy and put all my focus on what pleases him the result would be emptiness inside. I would fail every time because I am imperfect trying to please an imperfect person.

 

After I kept failing, I learned there is more to marriage than just trying to please my spouse but loving my spouse the way Christ loves them. That love is sacrificial where we give it freely no matter what they do to us in return. Love, I believe, is an action and requires us to work on it every day. If love were a feeling we would fall in and out of love everyday. This new way of thinking is the God-centered spouse approach.  I realized God designed marriage to make us holy and to give Him all the glory.  Romans 15: 5-7 describes it well “May God… help you live in complete harmony with each other-each with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God.”  In marriage you each have differences but understanding and celebrating them will unify you as a couple for the glory of God. As we look through God’s eyes, our spouse is God’s son and daughter and we are to show them respect and love with the attitude of Christ. Now, it causes me to rethink how I treat my husband and I need to ask myself the question am I treating God’s son with the attitude of Christ and love? Wow that is powerful because I am to look at my spouse through the lens of Christ.

 

Our main purpose in marriage is to please God and him alone. I truly believe marriage shapes us into the image of Christ. He desires to make us more holy through marriage.

So my question for you is does our marriage reflect Christ? I know at times our marriage doesn’t but I do know my husband and I are working and striving daily to have a Godly marriage that glorifies HIM. We can’t do this though without the Holy Spirit guiding us to be a God centered spouse. “….But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace” Romans 8:6. Being controlled by the Holy Spirit will lead you to being a God-centered spouse, which causes you to please God in your actions towards your spouse and in your marriage.  My prayer is that we all have life and peace in our marriage and our marriages will be better as we align ourselves with God being the center in our marriage.

 

Photo Credit: Dreamstime