Wednesday, January 23, 2013

the voice

we are continuing today our series on marriage. if you haven't read the past two weeks, i encourage you to start here at the beginning. this series has been in my heart to write for a couple years, so if it blesses and encourages you, even challenges you as it challenges me, please feel free to share it. now, let's sit down at my coffee table for a cup of coffee and have a real talk about marriage.

it's always in the middle of a heated exchange that the voice comes to me.  you know the one:   
don't give in and admit fault.  don't choose to be the one who backs down.  you know what will happen - he will take advantage of you and think he can always win.

and as silly as it sounds writing it all down and admitting to hearing voices that urge me to not lay down my rights, the tension in the moment is so thick it is almost suffocating.

it is like the devil and angel depicted on the shoulders of cartoon characters.  the Holy Spirit and the voice, call it a demon or my flesh (it doesn't matter which), battle for my response.

my father-in-law once told my husband when he was a teenager struggling with some sin issues that he better hope it was a demon bothering him.  he said, "son, if it is a demon, it is easy - we just cast it out.  now if it is your flesh... you will battle that thing the rest of your life."

i have a feeling this voice is more my flesh resisting walking out real love than a demon simply bothering me that has to leave when i tell it to in Jesus' name.

it feels so much like if i admit i am wrong, or even have any ounce of fault in a fight, it will be brought back as ammo against me in a future disagreement. it makes so much sense to my mind that if i don't defend myself and make sure he understands why i am in the right, he will somehow think he had no blame in the fight.  

 ...and then i will be walked all over.

yet, i cannot get away from what paul called love:
love is patient.
love is kind
and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
love never fails...
1 cor. 13 nasb

the new king james version says it this way:
love suffers long and is kind...

the new living version says this: does not demand its own way. it is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged... love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

so, let's do a reality check for a second - 

  • i do not like to suffer for a short time, so definitely not suffering loooonnnggg much here...  and to be kind at the same time as the suffering.  ouch.
  • my son told me today that i could work on my impatience - no check mark on the patient part for me.
  • i often demand my way.  this can be verified by my whole family.
  • i get irritable without enough coffee, enough chocolate, enough food, water, sleep, health... okay, so i get irritated pretty easily it seems.
  • i hate to admit it, but in a fight i can often remember instantly when i have been wronged in the same way before (anyone with me on this?). 
  • i can be provoked.  it doesn't take long to learn my buttons.  and you push them, i push back.

i am no where near this thing called love.

the good news about this depressing news about myself is it isn't new news to Jesus!  He knows i struggle in every single one of these areas... that is why following Him is defined as laying down my life and embracing my cross - being mistreated.

yes, mistreated even in my marriage by the one i have allowed closest to me.

and he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  he who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.  matthew 10:38-39
now for a long time i thought this meant literally dying for Jesus... but the thought that laying down my rights was the same as losing my life for His sake - so that He might be glorified in me - now that was life-changing to this little gal living in california.
then Jesus said to His disciples, "if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.   for whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  for what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  matthew 16:25-26

what will it profit me if i win the argument, but lose my soul in the process?

and He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  mark 8:34

deny myself?  surely this is a mistranslation. 
and He was saying to them all, "if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  luke 9:23

daily?  you mean, this isn't just about being martyred in some eastern country?  this is about me and my daily home life where i get mistreated every. single. day?

remember, i am not all those great things that are listed in the love chapter.  neither are you.

but He is.

He is every single one of these things towards me, and that is why i can turn my heart towards my husband when i most want to build up a wall to protect myself - Jesus knows the very worst of me that i can hide cunningly from everyone else, and He still loves me in this radical way.

He really did bear His cross on my behalf when i mistreated Him - and it wasn't just about the literal gruesome death on the cross, but the stigma He would bear in my mind of being weak and not defending Himself when He had the chance.

He loved me fully and that is why i choose to not listen to the Voice in an argument... well, at least purpose my heart to tell it no, and choose to lay down my rights daily

in this messy thing called marriage.

Jesus wasn't concerned with how we might mistreat Him again when He chose to love us (and He alone knows how often i have mistreated and even despised Him in my heart) - so why should we hold this as a reason to not really love our spouses? 

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