Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage and what makes marriages “work” (I blame the fact that February is our anniversary month). While I’ve only been married for a bit more than a handful of years, one of the things I’ve noticed that’s pretty foundational is the concept of being “for” one another…even when you don’t necessarily agree with one another.
For those of you with perfect marriages, let me explain. There are a LOT of times that I don’t agree with my husband. Like a lot a lot. For example: he LOVES video games. There was a point in our marriage where this love was obsessive, to the point where I was googling “video game addiction” and he was checking the box on all of the signs. My natural inclination was to complain to my mom, or best friend, or grandmother, or the mailman and often I would. Finally, after a particularly ridiculous “bender” weekend where he played for a bajillion hours I was so frustrated by his ridiculous habit and his inability to see how unhealthy it was that I picked up my phone to do my typical tattling on him and woe is me act and God stopped me short. What was the fruit in my complaining to someone else? Was I covering him or shaming him? Was I loving him well? Would I want him to complain to his mother and friends about all of the annoying things I do or don’t do? UGH.
God reminded me of several things over the course of that weekend:
- Cover each other’s nakedness. In Genesis 9:20-27 it talks about Shem and Japheth covering their father, Noah’s nakedness after he had gotten drunk and in his drunken state had stripped himself. Their actions were credited to them as righteousness and Noah blessed them and guess what happened to the brother that ridiculed him (his name was Ham for those of you trying to keep on the up and up of your bible trivia)? He was cursed and called the slave of his brothers (and let’s all just say a quick thank you Jesus that we don’t live in the Old Testament). What Noah had done was wrong but showing dishonor was considered worse because one sin was against himself (Noah’s sin) and the other was against another (Ham’s ridicule of his father). God has brought this passage back to me so many times in my life because I think its so under shared. What would the world look like if we covered one another instead of ridiculed one another? Even writing that I’m convicted of multiple times in the last week that I have ridiculed others (thank God for grace).
- “Let us lay aside every weight and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1 NKJV (emphasis mine). This is how God broke this one down for me: a) Stop dragging others along on your race (i.e. my husband). Growing up in church we always thought of the “weight” mentioned here as sin, but guess what my friend? The heaviest weights in our lives are often people. Let people live their lives and you live yours to the best of your ability because guess what? No one likes being dragged along or being told what to do or how to run. Also, for those of you who are dragging on relationships that should have ended weeks, months, years, decades ago: maybe its time to release that weight my friend. Plus, your race was designed for you not them (read next point). b) Don’t run someone else’s race. This is just good to remember in general. Your race is your unique race created by God for YOU to RUN. So stop trying to be like “her” or “him” and just be you. c) Set your pace with Jesus. If you’ve ever run a marathon or a half marathon you know that there are pacesetters that run the course so you know how fast you are running and can “keep pace.” I remember running my first half marathon and getting super distracted by the people running around me and thoughts in general. “Am I running too slow? Look at that girl’s cute outfit! Dang she’s fit. Ugh I’m already tired. Why is my music not working?” etc. I remember getting so distracted that I completely took my eye off of my pacesetter and I finished the race slower than I had hoped. The beautiful thing about God, is that I believe that when we lose sight of the pacesetter (Jesus) in real life he comes back to get us (read Mathew 18:12) and helps us get back on track.
- God is responsible for renewing the hearts and minds of others NOT me (Romans 12:2).This one is the hardest for me, anyone else? As an enneagram 2 (helper/giver) my “sin” is pride and this is where it rears its ugly head. I want to be savior to others. When I see people doing what I consider “wasting” their lives (quick personal check: how much of my life do I waste on social media *face palm emoji* am I right?) I want to step in my omnipotence and knowledge and show them the path to true life perfected. Because apparently I’ve figured that out? WRONG. God has got this my friends, not us.
In closing, I think its important to note that I’m not condoning destructive behavior here. If your spouse is an alcoholic, maybe stage an intervention. If your spouse is cheating, confront them and get counseling (or leave). If your spouse is abusive for goodness sakes GET OUT. Or do whatever it is you feel YOU should do (your race not mine remember?). But I think there’s been a long running cultural narrative that we’ve allowed to seep in, that says me or him, us or them and the truth of the matter is, we would all fair a lot better if we acted like we were on the same team and supported one another.
What are some ways that you are “for” your spouse or they have been “for” you, even when one of you was wrong? Would love to know in the comments section or contact me below.