Hey friends! I know it has been a century since I last wrote to you about this topic, but I’ve sort of taken a break from the heavier posts for my own sake. It’s just a lot. Ha!! That’s probably pretty selfish of me, (there I go again, being selfish- ugh), but I hope you’ll forgive me, and we can move forward on this journey together as I try to get back into the swing of bearing my soul to y’all in hopes that you are encouraged and challenged as I have been in recent months. So, here goes nothing!
If you missed my first post of this series here, or if it’s been a while since you read it, I encourage you to take a quick look. I just reread it myself, and boy was I convicted! I’m not kidding. I did that to myself! I have such a tendency to forget that marriage is a team and try to “get things done” on my own. I can tell you that it doesn’t usually end very well, and it often creates tension beyond just a single event or particular situation.
Tension, at least in my house, tends to fester. It breeds uncertainty, guilt, shame, resentment, and those things do not foster a healthy, thriving marriage! I’m here today to give some practical ways that we as spouses can support and love one another, starting with sacrificing our selfishness on the altar where it belongs!
#1 Be repentant. The first thing you absolutely must do when weeding out a selfish spirit is to repent. Ask the Lord for forgiveness and direction to show you the areas you have been acting on your own accord, for your own purposes. Then take those to your partner, and confess them! This will NOT be easy, but friends it is worth it! Repentance almost always leads to healing! Remember what I said about selfishness attacking unity? This is the opposite of that! The next step is to….
#2 Be honest. Admitting your selfishness takes pride out of the equation and opens your heart up to giving, and receiving, unconditional love to your spouse. When you sit down to repent of a selfish spirit, it’s really important to be honest about what has been pushing you to pursue selfish desires apart from your marriage. This MUST be done with love.
Timothy Keller writes, “Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.” (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)*
This leads me to my next point:
#3 Be Committed. Be committed to walking through the pain of laying these things on the altar! It’s hard to change a habit of self-servitude! I know I personally find it much easier to stay where I’m at than to be repentant, honest, and committed to change something that, in my opinion, has appeared to serve me well- no matter what it is! But it’s not the marriage I signed up for. I didn’t vow to “do only those things I want to do” and “get what I can when I can” from my husband. No! I vowed to love and to cherish him, to walk through life WITH him! Not with myself. Ya hear what I’m saying?
#4 Be selfless. Duh. You’re probably going, “Isn’t what this whole post series is about?!” YES! But it bares repeating, often. In the same way it takes a series of selfish choices to drive a wedge in your marriage, it takes a series of selfless ones to mend your fences. Trust is not built overnight! If you haven’t read Gary Chapman’s bestselling book The Five Love Languages, I would encourage you to do so! Start by taking the Love Language Test- both you and your spouse- to better understand each others’ needs. You might go weak in the knees at the sight of a clean house (acts of service), but your spouse couldn’t care less about the clutter yet begs for a date night (quality time). It’s important to understand that the way you show, and receive, love may not match up – and that’s okay!
Being selfless means taking time to listen to and learn another’s hopes, dreams and desires. It means putting a priority on someone else, not at the expense of yourself but at the abundance of yourself! It doesn’t mean you have to be or do all the things. It just means that you’re intentional with using your gifts to bless your partner. To share yourself with them.
#5 Be Gracious. It shouldn’t go without saying that there needs to be an extreme amount of grace toward yourself and toward your significant other in overcoming selfishness. This is absolutely essential, and it’s probably the hardest thing to implement. We want to see progress and change overnight (see above), and we are quick to judge when selfishness creeps back in. Y’all. “Old habits die hard.” Yours do too! So, have grace. Extend it. Accept it. And keep moving forward!
All of these steps take time. They take prayer. And they take courage. They take stepping out in faith that God will redeem and restore the marriage He created for you. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” These words are spoken at every wedding, and they articulate the power of the Lord working in and through your relationship. No one would accuse marriage of being easy, but then again nothing worth having ever is. And I find in myself that the largest force working against my marriage is ME! My selfishness. My pride. My brokenness.
Laying all these things at the altar and being repentant, honest, committed, selfless, and gracious is the best way I’ve found to mend what’s broken in my marriage. No matter what issue arises, whether it’s lack of communication, financial hardship, over-scheduling, or just being short-tempered, I keep re-thinking my first post on this topic, remembering that “marriage means you’re on a team that needs you.” My selfish spirit wants to fix “what’s wrong with him” in lieu of examining my own heart. But that’s just not being a team player! And it’s not the marriage that the Lord wants for us. Or for you!
I hope that today’s post has left you feeling encouraged, and not overwhelmed! Just know that the heart of this message is to say that everyone has a little self-examination and repentance to do. Everyone, left to their own devices, will chose self over others. That’s human nature. But God wants better for your relationships, and so do I! And the best way to show that to you is for me to share my own experiences, even if it means I embarrass myself in the process. Love you all!!
*Affiliate links above are provided for your convenience. I’m currently not an Amazon associate, therefore I do not receive any compensation for or commission from the sale of the books, or any other recommendations/ Amazon links provided in my posts. This is subject to change, and you will be informed if and when it does. Happy reading!