Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Hard-Workin' Wife

I spent some time with a good friend last week, and we were talking about how easy life seemed in high school.  And I have to admit, life did come easy.  Getting "A's" in school took very little effort, music was my second language, and once I discovered drama, even that came easily to me.  College was a little more challenging, but for the most part I breezed through it.  There were a few things that got pretty difficult, but I usually decided that they were too hard and quit doing them.

As an adult, I have discovered about myself that I still have that same expectation: life should be easy.  I should be able to do whatever it is that I've decided to do and it should require very little effort.  Marriage, parenting, managing a home, serving in the church...they should all be easy.  Right?

Yeah, you can stop laughing at me now.  Trust me, I know that I couldn't be more wrong.  I know without a doubt that life takes work.  HARD work.  It doesn't just "happen."  Well, it can "just happen."  But then you don't end up with the abundant life that Jesus came to this earth to bring us.  (John 10:10)


I've been mulling over this idea for the past few days, specifically in connection with marriage. It's not a new concept for me, this idea of marriage taking work.  What is new is the realization that I'm not very good at working hard toward something.  I'm so used to having things come easily to me that it frustrates me when my relationship with my husband isn't easy!  And instead of digging my heels in and getting my hands dirty, I'm tempted to listen to the liar who tells me just to quit.  Oh, I never really give up and quit, but I resign myself to letting things "just happen."  And I think I'm missing the abundant marriage that God planned for me and Scott. 

So what does it really mean to "work" on our marriages?  I've got to admit, I'm still learning myself.  But this is what I think it looks like, at least in part: It means making a conscious choice to do things that please our husbands, and putting forth a concerted effort to actually do those things.  It means choosing not to get angry over the little stuff, and trying to see situations from their perspective.  It means praying for our husbands every morning, and praying that God will make them the center of our desire.  It means offering ourselves to them at night regardless of how tired we are or how fat we feel.  It means acting loving toward them even when we don't feel like it.  It means being proud of them and encouraging them.  It means letting them know that we're grateful for them and that we're we're glad they're the leaders of our families.  And that's just the start.

Wow.  That really is a whole lot of work.  And it certainly doesn't sound easy.  Some of it even sounds downright uncomfortable!  But as I was praying about this post this morning, God reminded me that Jesus never promised that life would be easy.  Instead, He promised that following Him would be difficult and uncomfortable. (Luke 9:23, 58; John 16:33)  Part of being obedient to Christ is loving and respecting our husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24, 33) and those things are not going to happen on their own.

Sigh.

Life was so much easier when it was...well...EASY.  But it's time to stop settling for what comes easy (mediocrity!) and work for something better.  Paul describes in First Corinthians 9 the way a runner trains in order to win a race.  The NIV calls it "strict training."  Which means they're working HARD at what they're doing in order to be the best.  I've been a runner and I've trained for a race.  I didn't train to win, just to finish, but I worked hard at it nonetheless!  We need to work that hard for our marriages, but not be content with just "finishing the race" with our husbands.  We want to be able to look back at our years with our husbands and see how rich and full they were.  We want to look forward to the coming years with excitement and anticipation of how good they're going to be, not wonder how in the world our marriages are going to make it that long.  Our marriages can be FABULOUS!  But it's going to take some work.

The first thing we've got to do is PRAY, because this is not something we can accomplish on our own.  Without the Holy Spirit leading us, we'll get tired and burned out and eventually we'll just give up.  So, start with prayer, but then it's time to get in there and get to work!

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