I love going to church on Sundays.  It’s like a “reset” button for the upcoming week.  The church family is so supportive and so amazing, just a simple hug from someone when you walk through the door can change your mood instantly – even if you are in a good mood.  Then you have the Pastor.  I have yet to hear a sermon that doesn’t feel like is directed towards Shane and I; our marriage, our relationship with the kids, our relationship with God, etc.  Not only does it reset the week, it usually gives me ammunition for my Motivation Monday posts.

Yesterday was no different.  So Pastor Steve, if you are reading this, I’m sorry but your topic yesterday was too good not to repeat and expand on!

Love.

It’s something that doesn’t get talked about often because it’s too “mushy” or too “over stated.”  While that may be true to a sense (Valentine’s Day, high school relationships, etc.), we tend to forget that it still needs to be acknowledged.

How do we, as a typical human, define love?  Is it the flirty eyes, sly grins and stolen glances when the other isn’t looking?  Is it flushed cheeks, sweaty palms and butterflies in the stomach?  Is it material items and good works?

Sure, all of those may be linked to “love” but 1 Corinthians 12:4-8 tells us that love is more than just those feelings.  It is patient, it is kind, it is not envious, it is not boastful, it is not proud or rude, it is not selfish, it is not provoked.  Love does not keep a record of wrongs but it rejoices with truth.  Love trusts, hopes, perseveres and never fails.  Yes.  Love takes work.  It takes effort.  But most of all, it takes commitment.

Being “in love” may seem effortless for the time being but think about all that you do for one another.  My marriage, for example, we’ve almost made it a competition to see who can get what done first.  This can be anything from washing the dishes to raking up the dog poop and everything in between.  (Sorry honey, I did kind of leave the stock yard to you.. yuck!) But it doesn’t just stop there, we cook for each other, we pray for each other, we read the Bible together, we try to make time for weekly date nights, we surround ourselves with positive people, we play with the dogs, we can be talking nonsense one minute and then be having a serious conversation the next.  We aren’t afraid to hash out tough subjects; finances, home improvements, contracts, bills, discipline/consequences for M&M.

But what were to happen if we just stopped?  Stopped doing things for one another and only did things that benefit ourselves?  What if he stopped waking me up for early coffee?  What if I stopped spending my mornings tying up loose ends around the house in between homework assignments?  What if we stopped praying for each other?

It’s scary to think about.

One of the things that we will both admit we are bad at is being able to STOP the busyness of our lives.  Not often to we actually take an evening and just sit around, not often do we lay in bed beyond 5:30-6:00 AM, not often do we spend a “lazy day” just lounging on the couch in our pajamas vegged out in front of the TV.

Instead of that, we are running to Bible studies, running kids to youth groups, running to school meetings, running to school events, running to sporting events, running errands, doing little things in the house or in the garage — it’s never-ending scurrying around our house.  I bet if you were to throw mice in a maze and let them run, that’s what we look like from birds eye view.

Even though we try to make time for a date night for the week, sometimes it just doesn’t happen.  But, we need to make a conscious effort to make time for one another.  I was reminded this last week in church that sometimes, life just gets away on you and suddenly a few hours turns into days, days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months and all of a sudden, you start to wonder when the last time you and your husband or wife (or boyfriend or girlfriend) got time to yourselves.

Without time for yourselves, you forget about patience for one another, you stop treating each other with kindness, you become jealous of the little things and you become rude; selfish.  But it doesn’t stop there.  You begin to keep record of wrong doings and forgiveness becomes hard.  It is in those moments that we possess all of the qualities that love should not be.

But, as I’ve said before, we are all humans; we all fall short.

Pastor Steve’s sermon on Sunday provided our church family with 3 resolutions to fix ruts.  Here are the three he offered us:
1.) Forgive Each Other:
Deal with the anger in a timely manner.  Don’t let a small issue turn into a larger issue.  We already have enough temptation here on Earth, we don’t need to give Satan anymore reason to get more of a grip on us; and having bitterness towards our spouse does that.  We need to have humility.  It’s ok to get upset, hurt, angry, etc.  But take the time to sit down, work it out, apologize and forgive so that you are able to grow together and continue moving forward together.

2.) Pursue Each Other
Are you familiar with the love languages?  They are words of affirmation, acts of service, giving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.  (Read more about them here.)  By recognizing which one of these your spouse possesses, you are able to cater to their wants and their needs.

3.) Enjoy Each Other
Take delight in the things that you do with each other; even if it is household chores.  We need to stop living on the go and take time to “stop and smell the roses.”

Our marriages should be pointing towards Christ.  Our earthly relationship cannot succeed if our spiritual relationship isn’t succeeding.

“But Liz, what do you mean?  I don’t regularly worship, pray or anything and my relationship(s) is/are just fine.”

Yes.  I didn’t say your relationship was failed/failing.  It cannot be 100% – nothing ever can be; there is always room for improvement.  At one point, I was in those shoes.  I wasn’t attending church regularly, I never read the Bible unless it was for church or if it was on my own time when I was looking for something.  My relationships (I thought) were fine.  But looking back, I struggled.  I struggled to stay patient, understanding, kind, and forgiving.  I was irritated majority of the time I was awake.  As soon as I began to pray and I began to dig into the word, I realized exactly how much I was struggling.

Maybe that’s part of why my first engagement failed.

Either way, with our marriages pointing towards Christ.  That means we have 3 ways to repair the rut that we may be in with Christ:
1.) Forgive Him
2.) Pursue Him
3.) Enjoy Him

So, for your motivation this week; I encourage/ask each of you to pray a minimum of once this week.  Doesn’t have to be out loud and it doesn’t have to be this flamboyant thing either.  Just lift up whatever is on your heart; good or bad.  I also want you to take note how you feel before and after – what changed, if anything?

Feel free to share your experiences in the comments or through a message.

**Reminder:  I’m still taking questions for my Fun Friday post!  If you want to know what that includes, you can see my list in this blog.**

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