The Practice of Love

The kids and I gather together this evening. I had been desiring for our family to have a gathering in the evenings to read the Bible, talk about what we have read, each give thanks for the day, then pray. But I know that my beloved husband can’t be easily invited to such. He sings praises, worships and prays every night for more or less two hours. Gathering with the family for the purposes I have mentioned is a thing he’d rather not join. This saddens me but I was determined to start with our two kids.

Hannah and I have been meeting to read the Bible and discuss, but this time, we include soon-to-be five-year-old Tim for he also needs a lot of teaching and praying over.

Lately, I have been thinking deeply on how to honour God more in my life. I felt that there must be something more to all the things that I do, something that is wrought by the Lord in and through me. I know that I lack and I err and I fail to follow through all that He wants me to  be and to do.

So the three of us gather together, forming a small circle (I don’t want any of the Lord’s words to fall to the ground). We talk about love. I point out to them that we are not loving the way the Lord Jesus wants us to. I tell them that sometimes we choose to be impatient, unkind, ungentle to one another. I point to myself. Why do I let myself speak harshly at times and snap rather than pay attention? Why can’t I completely rein in my temper and just be known for my gentleness? Why can’t I stop myself from answering back their dad when I am hurt? Why can’t I just take the pain and keep quiet? Most often, it’s my pride that gets hurt. So then, why can’t I just kill my pride? Didn’t the Lord tell us to pluck out our eye or cut off our hand if these make us sin? To have a meek and quiet spirit is still my earnest prayer.

“If I am not known for my gentleness, what am I known for? What are we known for?” I ask them, voice cracking. Why would you shove your brother to the side? I am looking intently at Hannah. Why can’t we love just like the Lord loves? Tears find their way out.

“We can’t stay like this”, I tell them. But I also tell them that I’m thankful I’m hurt and broken this way, for that means I’m not numb to God and His commandments. For if one has become numb and unmindful of God and what He thinks, one has become barren, spiritually dead. I am thankful for His tuggings at my heart for I know I am fully feeling, knowing, seeing. I am fully awake! The tears flow freely.

And I tell them more, like the Lord’s commandment (well, more like an urgent plea) to His disciples before He was taken to be crucified.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35, emphasis added)

We will be known as the Lord’s disciples by the way we love  one another.

“Can we begin to practise love, really, intentionally practise love everyday starting today? Just like how the Lord loves us?” I ask them. The Lord is not harsh nor unkind nor shoves nor shouts at us. Hannah nods sincerely.

I hold Tim’s face. His still-baby skin feels so soft in my hand. I tell him about loving by showing respect. I tell him what is love and what is not. I explain, I implore, and I am held in awe by how his beautiful eyes grow bigger and rounder. His eyes have opened and rounded to the full and I am amazed at the beauty of the faith of a child. If only we could easily open our eyes that big and round and fix them to Jesus, just like little children do. 

Maybe then we would not miss anything. Maybe then we could practise love everyday, even every moment.

We end with prayer. I pray and reach and cry out to God. I offer up our lives; we are His. For only in His light do our uglinesses vanish and we are changed. And we love Him so, with all our hearts, minds, and souls. Copious tears keep streaming down. We have been touched.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

How to Maintain Inner Peace

The morning of the day I planned to write this, a problem arose that would test exactly what I wanted to write about. This wasn’t the first time that it has happened – the testing before or after the writing. It is as if the real Author of all these Spirit-inspired written words are testing this writer if she could practice what she preaches, or walk in the way of what she writes about.

Early in the morning, my beloved husband learned that our company driver who was sent to the province with the delivery van was apprehended by the traffic police and without calling and informing his boss (my husband), he paid the police PhP2,000 just so, according to him, they wouldn’t impound the van and take his driver’s license. My husband at once got furious.

Why didn’t he call him about the problem and before he paid PhP2,000?
What exactly was the violation? Transporting a second-hand oven. (Huh?!)
Did he get a receipt for paying PhP2,000? No. It went straight to the hands of the enforcers. (What?!!!)
Did he get the names of the traffic enforcers who received the money? No, he did not.

My husband started to think that maybe the driver, who has been working for our company for eight long years, wasn’t telling the truth. He gave him PhP3,000 for gas and toll fees which was more than enough (the tank was more than half-full before the trip). Without going into much detail, he has reasons to think so. When he told me all about it, I myself was surprised. To be apprehended by traffic police for transporting a second-hand oven which sits inside a closed delivery van is very unusual. (We upgraded our kitchen and the old oven was going to a relative). And, being born-again Christians, it is our company policy never to give bribes for any reason at all.

The endless analyzing and discussing while temper is slowly brewing can sap one’s energy for sure. And I didn’t have my praise and prayer time yet! Which effectively brought to mind my topic for today. So, I told my husband this: “What has happened has happened and we can no longer undo it. If the driver is telling the truth, we have to accept it and move on (except of course, my husband has yet to discuss it again with the driver in person). If not, God knows it and He will be the one to do something about it. The thing is, there should be an end to all the angry talk and doubts.”

That is what I really wanted to write about today: Much of our problems are aggravated (if not triggered) by our incessant worrying, analyzing, judging, discussing, complaining, striving, and by often choosing the way of anger and dissatisfaction. This happens when we focus more our attention to the things around us – people, events, material – than focusing our eyes on God.

I remember the early days when the “new man” was a babe in Christ – fresh, yielding and with an undistracted, quiet spirit. We were on our way to a nearby province to attend a wedding where my husband and I were principal sponsors. We were traveling with a sister in Christ who was older than us, both in age and in years of serving the Lord. She and my husband were jovially talking about people and events, and now and then, joked and laughed at the stories they were sharing with each other. I sat quietly in my seat, not speaking a single word. I was revelling in the quiet of my spirit, soaking up in the peace that the Lord put in my heart. I would sometimes stroke the long strands of my hair while I looked out the window and gazed at the seemingly never-ending green fields and rolling hills in the horizon. Ah! What peace! What an invigorating feeling of fresh holiness! 

I have to be honest: I have lost much of that holy quiet and calm throughout the years as I wrestled with prolonged physical suffering and with the difficulties of trying to keep up with the daily grind, what with a body that easily gets weary and weak.

I grieve about losing much of that constant quiet glorying in the Lord, but I haven’t forgotten that day nor the feeling of basking in the Lord’s light, unmindful of the chaos in my surroundings, and I believe it is still possible. It is always possible.

Here are some ways to maintain inner peace:

  • Be mindful of the things we think about. Don’t let negative things play in our minds, endlessly and futilely wrestling with them.

Is there somebody in your life who hurts you with his or her rude or thoughtless behaviour? Don’t focus on it. It is not your problem. It has nothing to do with you. But you can pray for him or her.

  • Don’t weary yourself by endlessly thinking, analyzing, worrying, or discussing about things that you cannot change or have no power over.

Learn to accept the things that you cannot change. Hand all of them over to God. Let Him do the solving and fixing. He is a specialist in mending the broken, rearranging what has gone awry, and making all things work together for our good.

  • Fix your eyes on Jesus and stay under His light.

One day years ago, my husband walked into the room with the news that there was something wrong with the papers of one of our properties that we were planning to sell. I understood that I might not have transacted with the rightful owners when I bought it. When he left, my body at once reacted with the stress this news brought, but I raised my hands and prayed. I relinquished all control to God. I found peace also in releasing that material thing. Later in the day, my husband told me that there was just an error and everything was well.

Don’t let problems suck you up. But be sucked up in the Lord’s light. Under His light, we receive wisdom and the peace that comes with it. Away from His light, there are shadows and darkness and it would be easy to lose our way.

Additional reading: The Spirit Bids {Ways to Seek Holy Moments}

Giveaway Winners!

DaySpring “Blessed and Loved” mug with lid and Dayspring “Live, Love, Laugh” journal.

DaySpring mug with lid and journal: Bing Puzon

DaySpring journal (consolation prize): Marilyn Facton

Congratulations and thank you all for joining!

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My gratitude list – the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • My daughter Hannah lovingly offering to massage my aching legs; she did it well, inducing me to a sound slumber :).
  • Learning to photograph objects in motion
  • The peace that descends and covers my whole being after a heartfelt praise and worship.
  • The blessed celebration of my birthday: family, good food, love and laughter.
  • A nephew who helped me with all the preparations so that I was able to rest and relax.
  • Filled to overflowing for all the testimonies of God’s miracles that I heard in Church today during the 12th Victorious Mindanao Peace Mission Anniversary.
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Discipline

Are you scared already just by reading the title (~ smile)? But seriously, we do need this just as much as our kids do. We bring out the letter of Paul to the Corinthians, dust it up, bring it under the light, and study closely:

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:24-28 NLT)

Highlighting these:

Run with purpose in every step.

Discipline the body, training it to do what it should.

Do it for the eternal prize.

In and after all your teachings, do not let yourselves be disqualified.

The danger is that, we may get used to doing those things that are not spiritually profitable, ways and practices that are unpleasant in God’s eyes, and our consciences may adapt to them and embrace them in the passing of time. The way we use our minds, eyes, lips and hands, and how we store up stuff in our hearts in everyday life – these will either lead us to a life that honors God or offends Him.

Here are just some of the things we may get used to practicing:

Being unable to concentrate in God during worship service or in private worship and prayer time. Letting the mind roam and focus on other things that distract communion with God. ~ (And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment – Mark 12:30)

Complaining, cussing, judging others, comparing, competing in the mind. ~ (Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things arejust, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things – Phil. 4:8)

Maintaining a thought life that glorifies covetousness, materialism, malice. ~ (But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints – Eph. 5:3);

Letting resentments, ill will, hurts, unforgiveness, envy, jealousy, pride be stored up in the heart and multiply. ~ (Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice – Eph. 4:31; Therefore, lay aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking – 1 Pet. 2:1; For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there – James 3:16)

Not making the practice of examining own motives. ~ (But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy – James 3:17)

Letting the eyes see and read things that make the heart and mind impure. ~ (…be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless – 2 Pet. 3:14; Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ – 1 Thess. 5:23)

Letting the tongue get used to speaking harshly, abrasively; snapping at the spouse, the kids. ~ (Let your gentleness be known to all men – Phil. 4:5; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness – Prov. 31:26)

Being carried away by an unsaved relative or friend to gossip. ~ (Do not cast off [your] first faith.  Do not be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which [you] ought not. … manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully – 1 Tim. 5:11-14)

Striving against the husband: criticizing, sermoning, not submitting to him or honoring him. ~ (Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives – 1 Pet. 3:1)

Spending too much time online and neglecting to spend time with God and reading and meditating on His Word. ~ (Continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers – Acts 2:42; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word – Acts 6:4)

Giving more priority to social networking, TV, phone, going out than to tending the home and the family. ~ (She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. – Prov. 31:27)

Giving more importance to fashion and how one appears to the world rather than on how to be a light to others, reflecting the Lord’s beauty and showing Christlikeness. ~ (Let others see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves – 1 Pet. 3:2-5)

 It is easy to read the Word regularly, yet, when this is not lived out in everyday basis, in every opportunity and situation, it will not have its mighty work in our lives. Walking in the Word and practicing all its teachings need our conscientious, diligent, intentional, steadfast efforts. We need discipline.

Linked to A Holy ExperienceBrag on God FridayEncourage My HeartPink SaturdaySpiritual SundaysState of the HeartTeach Me TuesdayTeaching What is GoodThe Beauty in His GripTitus 2sdaysWomen in the Word WednesdayWomen Living Well, We are That FamilyProverbs 31 Thursdays

The Spirit Bids {Ways to Seek Holy Moments}

(photo source)

I often find myself deafened by the noise of the world: the hustle and bustle of everyday activities, especially that of our household, the distracting loudness of the Internet, the monotony of the TV, AND, truth be told, even my own thoughts and voice! My thoughts are the loudest and the most active, I think, that they even intrude into my sleeping hours! And yes, I get deafened, too, by my own voice even if I’m using it to minister – to family and staff. Sometimes when I want to elucidate to the spouse, to a child, to a relative or to a staff, I find myself holding my tongue — “Oops!”, I’d say silently, “It’s better to keep quiet. Just.keep.still.and.hold.your.peace.” Because you see, I get tired even of my own voice and strivings!

And, oh, what bliss! Why? I believe because those who have received the Spirit of Christ would always gravitate towards a life similar to that of what the Lord Jesus had on earth. After a whole day of ministering to multitudes – teaching, preaching, healing, casting out demons – the Lord Jesus always resorted to a quiet place. And he spent those quiet moments communing with God. Though He zealously and untiringly ministered to all who were in need, His spirit craved quiet. There was not a day that He didn’t spend time in a deserted place, that is, somewhere He wouldn’t be in the least disturbed or distracted.

Since we have the Spirit of Christ, we, too, yearn for quiet, and would want to escape the loudness of this world every now and then. The Lord Jesus is still bidding us:

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31)

It is in our stillness – when body, mind, and spirit are in complete rest, away from distractions and worries that create too much stress – that we will know God. It is in the quiet, when we cease to do any work and the mind relinquishes its active mode of scheming, planning, dreaming, AND worrying, that we will hear His voice and we will know His power, His comfort, His peace, His love. In rest we will KNOW Him more!

Be still, and know that I am God… (Psalm 46:10)

When we become still before God and focus ALL ourselves to Him, we enter into a holy place and spend a holy moment with Him. That is worship.

Some of the ways we seek holy moments with God:

  • Sing praises and worship alone in a room
  • Pray in a deserted place (in a room, in the garden, or on a hill if it is convenient)
  • Read the Bible meditatively and ponder on the verses (you may do it in a quiet room , deserted garden or park, beside a river or a lake)
  • Read a devotional (I recommend Jesus Calling and Streams in the Desert)
  • Rest while listening to praise and worship songs, audio Bible or audio devotionals
  • Sit still and contemplate on the goodness of God: relive His testimonies, His mercies that endure, and all His mighty works and wonders. Think about those times that He had answered our most earnest prayers, those moments that He had raised us up from sickness, and delivered us from our afflictions.

I have written many articles about worship. To read more about this subject, go here.

Guiding Our Children in the Faith

These are the things that my heart is happy about and why I’m singing praises to the Lord:

My children are growing in faith. They enjoy singing praises to God and learning new Gospel songs. No, they don’t know secular music. They believe and trust in the power of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They believe in the power of prayer and laying on of hands when they are sick. They believe that Jesus is their Healer and they rest in that truth.

They don’t watch TV shows that they aren’t allowed to. And if they see TV ads that they know are bad and that they are not supposed to see, they quickly cover their eyes or turn away. They don’t cuss or utter swear words. And if they hear such words spoken by playmates, classmates or relatives, they are quick to rebuke them.

When they have behaved badly, they know how to say sorry and humbly ask for forgiveness (sometimes with urging and encouragement). They know how important it is to forgive, too, and not to harbor ill feelings.

But, there is another side to this. Kids being kids, my children fight. When my 4-year-old son is angry, he screams his tonsils out. When he has tantrums, he screams, kicks and hurts those who come near and often, he hurts himself, too. He slams doors repeatedly that I’m just sure baby Sam, our infant neighbor, is being roused from her sweet angelic slumber. Oh, he is just given to sulking with the slightest provocation and petty reasons!

My 11-year-old frowns and sometimes stomps out of the room after a scolding (but it wouldn’t be fair with her if I didn’t say that she really knows how to make up). She forgets and neglects to do her duties and responsibilities and needs to be reminded always. Often, she doesn’t play her role well as the big sister. Generally, both of  them are willful in varying degrees.

Often in my prayers and quiet times with the Lord, I ask why my children are difficult and why they just can’t get rid completely of their bad attitudes. Then I would think that they are like that so that, together with my other “emergency” petitions, I will always be on my knees begging and crying out to the Lord. Needless to say, it’s my constant prayer that the Lord will make them well-behaved children.

And because of these things that make my heart heavy and my soul weary, we do the following relentlessly, completely trusting that by our “watering”, God will “give the increase”:

  • Attending Church and Embracing the Teachings

Regular attendance in church – singing praises and worshiping together with other believers, intently listening to testimonies and preaching of the Gospel – is a must. So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). I have proven this to be very helpful, indeed, in guiding our children in the faith. I believe, one probable reason is – they receive anointing from hours of praising, worshiping and listening to teachings of the Bible, and their faith grows.
  • Praying Incessantly

For there is no real success without the help of God. Often, we allow ourselves to be wearied out by the challenges of motherhood, forgetting that we can bring all our concerns to the Lord and trust Him to work mightily in the lives of our children. And in us, too, since we need the steady flow of inspiration, wisdom, guidance, energy and tons of patience in this noble vocation called motherhood.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Phil. 4:6)

  • Regular Bible Reading and Discussion

I have also proven how valuable our nightly Bible reading and discussion at home is. My daughter and I read the verses, usually within an episode, a story or a parable (we’re currently reading the gospels). Then we discuss what we’ve read. We delve into the words of the Lord Jesus, gleaning precious lessons from them. We connect them to the present circumstances, applying the Lord’s teachings in our present lives.

I encourage my daughter to speak out. I ask how she understood what we have read, what lessons she has learned from it and how she could apply them in her life – family, school and friends. I have also found this time together as a great opportunity to talk about problems at home or in school and how we could resolve them. When in the events of the day there has been a strife, and I know it’s wrong timing or I find it wearisome to explain or admonish lengthily, I always find comfort in the thought that I can bring up  the matter later in our Bible time, when our minds and hearts have drunk of the Word.

  • Leading by Example

I believe this is the best way to enforce the teachings of the Bible to our children and to encourage them to practice and live these teachings out on a daily basis. We must serve as inspirations, as shining lights to them, for what they see us do, they can easily follow. And because their eyes are upon us, depending on our guidance as they are growing up, we need to be regularly bathed with the Lord’s light. When we ourselves are constantly under His light, we reflect that light to our children (and to other people) and we can teach them to be a light to others, too.

Related:

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My weekly gratitude list – praising and giving glory to God for:

  • gentle, earnest words that produce good fruits.
  • anointing the singing of the Children’s Choir during Sunday service.
  • moving so mightily during the singing of Singles Choir. The chorus was sung many times over as the Holy Spirit lingered, the whole congregation of the saints standing up and worshiping God, being filled with the Spirit. With arms wide open and face towards heaven, I thanked God for the glorious moment!
  • for the testimony of a sister-in-Christ who was filled with the Holy Spirit while He moved during the singing of Singles Choir. After the singing, she was brought to the pulpit to tell the Lord’s message. Oh, the Lord sees everything and right there in that stadium, He opened up heaven and angels came down! By God’s grace, I will share this very important testimony in the coming days.

Dealing with a Difficult Marriage Part 4: Focus on Your Marriage Not on Others’ Marriages

(photo source: Google images)

In this series:

Dealing with a Difficult Marriage Part 1: Do Not Dwell in Your Hurts for a Long Time
Dealing with a Difficult Marriage Part 2: Make a Firm Commitment to Obey Gods Word No Matter What 
Dealing with a Difficult Marriage Part 3: Don’t Let It Change You for the Worse but for the Better

One of the things that exacerbates problems in marriage is the habit of looking at others’ marriages and  probably secretly comparing with, and envying, them. We read and hear about husbands being fabulously described by their wives and we feel sorry for ourselves as we compare in our minds and heap upon our spouses criticisms and faults as we decide that he’s not anything at all like them.

These observations and comparisons could very well be true, but to use them to further discourage ourselves, fan the flame of  disappointments, and heighten other ugly and negative emotions that we might be trying to extinguish, will not at all solve the problems. That is their life and we have our own which urgently needs all our attention and love.

This is the life, the marriage, the family, the home that God has gifted us with (Yes, they are gifts!), and instead of studying others’ lives and marriages and endlessly wishing that ours were like theirs, let us focus our eyes, minds, hearts, and energy toward our own homes, being encouraged and intimately guided by the Word of God.

We may see and read all manner of beautiful marriages around us but we do not know the whole story and we cannot possibly imitate them or pattern our own marriages after theirs. Successful marriages among our beloved brethren in Church could serve as shining examples and inspiration but the work still lies in us to make our own marriages succeed, but not without the mighty hand of the Lord in all of it.

The Bible has provided a “divorce-proof “(or in our country, “annulment-proof”) guide for Christian marriages. We need only to examine the words very thoroughly and meditatively and begin to apply them assiduously in our marriages accompanied by unceasing prayers. There are two vital things that the Bible teaches husbands and wives: Love and Respect.

For the husbands to love their wives. How? As themselves.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself… (Eph. 5:25,28,29,30,33)

The Apostle Paul compared the love of a husband to his wife to the love of Christ to the Church, emphasizing that we are members of His body, flesh and bones. Apostle Paul got his fitting analogy from the beginning of all things, going all the way back to Genesis. We remember that God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep while He busied Himself taking a rib from him. And from Adam’s rib, God created Eve, Adam’s wife. We can only imagine him beaming with love and happiness as he declared, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh!”

Adam, the first man and husband, recognized Eve his wife as from his own, not at all separate from himself. And so he loved her as his own body. Does this mean, therefore, that a husband who is unkind to his wife is actually being unkind to himself? It is really hard to understand if this is the situation of the marriage.

In turn, the wife is commanded to respect her husband. How does she do it? To submit to him in everything as she does to the Lord.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

…and the wife must respect her husband. (Eph. 5:22-24,33 NIV)

Must one worry that one might be blindly or hazardously submitting to everything even to a husband’s unkind treatment? But in these two primordial commands for a husband and wife, God has designed a perfect balance in their application: the wife respecting, and submitting to, a husband who loves her like his own self. Each party, therefore,  must play his/her role with complete dedication to attain and maintain equilibrium, a state wherein there are no strong clashing forces that foment strife. In simpler terms, there is peace and harmony.

That is why Apostle Paul used the love of Christ to the Church and the submission of the Church to Him in everything as the bases of this Love and Respect Equation between a husband and his wife – it is that sacred!

If it be possible and you know that it would proceed smoothly and turn out well, discussing this with our spouses would be very beneficial indeed. You may both offer up prayers before you sit down and amiably talk about these verses in detail and with an open heart and mind.

If a heart-to-heart discussion would prove to be difficult (remember the problems with verbal communication in part 1 of this series?), you may write a letter to him expressing your desire to have a happy and harmonious life with him, letting him know also of your sincere appreciation of the things that he does for the family, and telling him you respect him (and mean it, too!). You may include the above verses but not in a “preachy” way but as a wife who is willing to give everything and do her part to help make the marriage succeed and pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.

Additional readings:

This is the last part of this series. If you have missed the other parts, you may go here. It has been a challenging, enlightening and humbling 4 weeks of writing and sharing these lessons, totally depending on the Lord’s wisdom, light and leading, with the lessons I’ve learned in my own marriage and close walk with the King! This series has become more illuminating with your unselfish sharing of your hearts and thoughts, and for that, I’m grateful to the Lord for bringing you here!
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My gratitude list – thankful to the Lord for:

  • this chicken cannelloni which gathered love, joy, and laughter around our table on a Saturday afternoon.
  • blueberry-scented tea light candles
  • this deep and enduring fire between me and my beloved husband which has unfailingly helped to resuscitate many an ailing marriage season and colored many a gray moment.
  • the commitment of my husband that runs strong and deep and has weathered many storms and has seen the harder, unpleasant side of married life, which side has taught us patience and sacrificial love.
  • the wisdom that Hannah my daughter gradually gains from our continuous study of the Word.
  • the thanksgiving message of a beloved sister-in-Christ which touched my heart and stirred a new fervency of love deep within me for the Body of Christ.

Dealing With a Difficult Marriage Part 3: Don’t Let It Change You for the Worse But for the Better

(photo source)

In this series:

Dealing with a Difficult Marriage Part 1: Do Not Dwell in Your Hurts for a Long Time
Dealing with a Difficult Marriage Part 2: Make a Firm Commitment to Obey Gods Word No Matter What 

It is not our job to change our husbands. That’s an impossible task to do. Until we accept that fact, we wouldn’t stop trying and then failing and being frustrated with the futility of our efforts. Changing a person’s heart is the work of God. That’s why we should never grow faint in offering constant, earnest prayers for ourselves, our husbands and children, for only God can do wonders and miracles in a person’s life.

But, empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, there are things that we can do to help improve ourselves and our relationships. When we find ourselves in a difficult marriage, we may become bitter and deteriorate into an “ugly”, pitiable person, or we may become a better, stronger, more beautiful woman of God, as the Lord has intended us to become by putting us into our difficult situation in the first place. He wants us to be overcomers.

Many times in the Book of Revelations, the Lord Jesus speaks of the wonderful blessings for those who overcome. We must understand, therefore, that as long as we are at the center of God’s will for us, He will deliver us from whatever difficult situation we are in. In the meantime that we are waiting for Him to transform our marriage, we may focus ourselves into doing the following:

       1.  Live Past Our Disappointments

As long as we adhere to the belief that we have married the wrong person and that he is hopeless, our married lives will become exactly that – beyond repair, hopeless. We can never think and see any good thing about him and our situation. We become torn between thinking of maybe-a-happier-life without him and living a life that does its best to completely ignore him. In both situations, we know that these are not the will of the Lord.

But if we understand and accept that the Lord put that person in our life, especially as sacred a commitment as marriage, then we can rest in the thought that we are not in the wrong relationship but only a difficult passage of our married life. And we can stop thinking that there could be a better life outside of it. On the other hand, we can trust in the Lord that He is with us in this and thus, we will be emboldened to recommit ourselves into the marriage and do our best to make it work.

        2.  Keep the Stance of Constant Forgiveness

This doesn’t mean that we delight in evil or rejoice about injustice, for love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out (1 Cor. 13:6 NLT), but we do it to liberate ourselves from the burden of unforgiveness, keeping the Lord’s words to forgive “seventy times seven” (Mat. 18:22). Meaning, we should forgive even until we have lost count.

When he seems to be unremorseful, we pray. We pray for grace to forgive even that, too, and rest in the truth that God is righteous and just.

       3.  Re-examine Ourselves

As we wait for the Lord’s help, we can spend this time to search our hearts. Turn the waiting period into a cleansing time wherein we strain to really look inside us and examine our attitudes that might have been annoying to our spouses. Since we realized we cannot change our husbands, then we can turn our attention to ourselves. Maybe there are still things in us that we need to work on and improve. Maybe when we have removed the “mote in our eye”, we can begin to see that it’s not really “a beam” that is lodged in our spouse’s eye (Mat. 7; I intentionally reversed whose is the mote and whose is the beam)! Meaning, maybe if change started in us, removing those things that, upon our thorough studying, irk our spouses, things will improve.

      4.  Make Our Baseline Love, Peace and Friendliness

Maybe we have lived in on-and-off hostilities too long that we have become used to treating each other unterderly. Both partners have become used to criticizing, snapping, and even insulting each other.

Start making your baseline love, peace, and friendliness. Meaning, do not automatically think that the other is hostile making us react in the same way, but always presume that he means well, even if sometimes, he slips. Let nothing fall below this baseline where hostility resides.

Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. (1 Pet. 3:11 NLT)

This is most effective if both spouses agree amicably to set this as the standard and commit to keeping it.

Practice dwelling on the side of love, peace and friendliness all the time, and not on the side of animosity. If one feels that the other is deliberately and actively being antagonistic, do not do the same. Instead, remind him gently but clearly.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Eph. 4:15)

       5.  Be a Shining Light

Never forget that we were created for God’s glory and the best way to be that is to be a shining light to others, showing them that He lives in us.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Mat. 5:16 NIV)

So, that being our motivation, let our actions give glory to His name: treating our husbands with respect and loving and caring for our family unflinchingly even if we’re hurting.

Next Monday, by God’s grace, Dealing With a Difficult Marriage Part 4: Focus on Your Marriage and Not on Others’ Marriages.

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My weekly gratitude list – thankful to the Lord for His gifts:

  • the uniting power of need and trials
  • having a sweet, restful slumber with my little Tim, all warm and chubby curled up beside me and snoring away ~ 🙂
  • the beauty of words that give light and heal – grace from the Word
  • morning by morning, waking up to new and refreshing inspirations from my Lord and King!
  • learning that our new housekeeper does nails, too!