I was travelling to work one morning. Nothing really happened per se, but I was frustrated.
I highlight the word “again” because that was the frustration. I started praying and asking God questions that centered on why some things never change, and, try as we might, here we are doing it again. He gently reminded me in the prayer time that small, incremental changes are good enough, and that maybe my expectations were unrealistic. In further discussion with my “positivity partner”, Kim, she discussed a sermon from Joyce Meyer.
“Things don’t happen to us; They happen for us.”
Saturday rolls around and my husband and I pick up the book, Cherish, by Gary Thomas. I needed to focus even if my attitude had not caught up with what I know to be true. Wouldn’t you know the chapter was entitled, “This is how your spouse stumbles”. We literally asked each other, “Do we really want to read this chapter?” After a discussion, we decided that God’s timing is best, and we rolled with it.
Cherishing means being patient with your spouse’s sin. We hysterically laughed at the story of “lost keys” in the chapter. Gary had been running late for work, and he was in a desperate search for his keys. After a few attempts, his wife, all snug in the warm bed, asks, “What’s wrong?” He begins to explain that he can’t find his keys, and she immediately apologizes and says, “Oh, I used them last night. They are in my purse.” To make matters worse, when she got up to help, they could not find her purse. I’m sorry, but I’m laughing right now, all by myself, writing this.
THIS IS MY LIFE.
Gary made it a point to cherish his wife by not reminding her of her absent-mindedness or blaming her.
From lost keys to hurtful words said to addictions, Gary’s message is one of consistent grace and forgiveness with accountability.
We need to accept the fact that our spouse will stumble. In fact, he encourages us to own it and say, “This is how my spouse stumbles.” Of course when we say this about our spouse it’s hard, but we have the expectation to experience grace for ourselves. I talked about the years my loving husband has supported my very, tender heart in matters that I can’t control. He has listened, hugged, given me space, and prayed for me. He shared his thoughts and offered gratitude for my years of grace for his stumble area.
To cherish your spouse means to know the dark corners but to still love, cherish, and move toward them.
Holiness, according to the Bible, is often best demonstrated by how patient we are with the lack of holiness in others. Oh, Gary, why did you have to write that? I stopped my husband from reading by saying, “That’s hard for me.” I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I’m telling you that I’m at an all new level with this in my season of life. I got the sassy attitude to prove it, and the quick come backs.
Not to be too hard on myself, I recognize the need for a little humor, but the lost key story, as we both agreed, had the potential to be war in my house.
I loved how Gary reminded us about the “presence behind the problem”. The very fact your spouse is present with you, loving you, walking this life with you is a cherished gift! Since when did you think your life would be perfection in your marriage? Did you really marry Prince Charming, and are you Cinderella? My husband snores and this can be quite maddening when sleep eludes me, but the very fact he IS snoring means he is with me snuggled in the bed. I may tear up and need reassurance, but the very fact I’m sniffling (again), means he has me to hold, kiss, and cherish.
Lastly, give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. He or she really did not wake up with a written plan to make your life miserable. They stumble. They have their quirks and idiosyncrasies that rub you the wrong way, but that has been them, probably from the first day you met them, at least in part. The example Gary gave was an unfortunate husband admiring a beautiful woman in front of his very pregnant wife. Another time in this chapter for Parish and I to laugh. “What was he thinking?!”, I yelled. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt means we ask that question in a nice way. “Tell me what happened from your perspective?” No lectures, but a question and an open heart and mind. Remember the tone and attitude matter.
So here we go again remembering this in our marriage, parenting, work relationships, and friendships.
“We all stumble in many ways.” James 3:2
I told Parish, “It’s like a field of sunflowers with a few bumble bees flying around. We can enjoy the beauty of the field and all its majesty, or we can live in fear that one of the bumble bees is going to hurt us and complain or not experience the beauty.”
Marriage has a few bumble bees, and, yes, we might get stung, but the beauty and majesty is worth it.
The next time your spouse stumbles, or any relationship causes you to stumble, remember it is not happening to you but for you to grow in holiness and righteousness. This is our redeeming love. As I was reminded while watching “Call the Midwife” and texting my friend, Lisa, who had seen the episode. Yes, until we see Jesus face to face, every day is a day to experience His redeeming love.
A serious post deserves a humorous ending. Celebrate the relationships that are still “there”.