Mark and I just celebrated our thirty-sixth anniversary. March 5, 1983. Clear Lake City, Texas. University Baptist Church. 3:00 PM. This past Monday, he presented me with thirty-six red roses! We worked hard for each one of those years, some more than others, so we celebrate. When is your anniversary? Does God remember it like you do? You bet. He was there that day you recited your vows and He still takes them seriously. He’s committed to your marriage and He’s in it.
When you said those promises to each other, did you know that, in essence, you were dying to your single self, your old way of being and doing, so that you and your spouse could forge something new?
This new way of being and doing trumps the old. Which way do you value more? The old way or the way of being with your spouse?
On that special day, whether we realized it or not, our deep-seated beliefs about our rights came under threat. They were lurking there in the recesses of our hearts while the words of those vows of companionable companionship escaped from our lips. If we’d have listened to our skeptical thoughts, we might have heard, Oh, really? or maybe, uh-huh, yeah, sure, or maybe, we’ll see how this works out. The human heart clutches to desires, interests and expectations like a child’s little finger holds onto a new toy. Mine. I call these big three our inner treasures. The acronym, DIE helps me remember them.
All the beliefs we create and nurture down in our hearts, the seat of where all our most important transactions happen, work at keeping and restoring our rights so we can do whatever it takes to see their eventual outcome. They guide, make us happy, make us who we are.
What do you mean give them up? Do we really need to give them up?
Desires, interests and expectations derail relationships. They are the little culprits making noise, demanding, and the cause of conflict, pain and heartache. (James 4:1-4) But, they aren’t always bad. Inordinate desires are neutral. Inordinate interests are okay. Inordinate expectations are understandable. In order to function in this life and to go forward, we need these inner treasures. The difficulties come when two people’s treasures vie for pre-eminence.
It’s why our voices escalate. We whine. We pout and slam doors. Isn’t it funny how we think the more right we are, the louder we need to get?
So, back to that day at the altar. We agreed (whether we like it or not) to die to our rights that our little noisy, hands-on-the-hips, my-way or no-way, passions would come out on top and win. Self-centered spouses have not done this. Nagging spouses have not done this. Unreflective, busy, task-focused, achievement-oriented, nose-pointed-at-the-phone, spouses are too distracted and busy to do this.
But this is our primary work.
We must allow the Spirit of God to come alongside us and shine His light on the disturbing, naughty tricksters and let Him call them out.
When we won’t listen to what the Spirit is trying to say to us, we grieve or quench Him and then become dull of hearing, hard-hearted, and probably, difficult to live with. It’s a battle, but God must win, if we want marital harmony.
Marital harmony costs something. The price we pay is to value this new way of being, in harmony with our companion, more than we value the rights to our inner treasures. We each determine how companionable our companionships will become. The Lord will help us and take control if we yield all that’s going on in our heart to Him. He’ll create the joy we so want. He’ll create the environment of peace and love and make it easier for us to hand over those wants.
He’ll transform us and our marriages.
He’s committed to this thing he invented.
Don’t be afraid to give up your rights.
It’s in the laying down that amazing things happen. Try it.