The other night in our church small group (what we call care group), our discussion leader asked us 2 questions:
What area in your life is encouraging right now?
What area is discouraging?
As I thought about that, so many encouraging areas came to mind:
I’m encouraged that I’m still running and my legs and lungs feel great.
I’m encouraged that I pray every day, and often more than once a day, because I want to.
I’m encouraged that I’ve finally found a daily routine that works well, and allows me to read the Bible, write my book and train for a marathon.
I’m encouraged that I feel more at home in Colorado than I ever have before – having great friends helps a lot.
But the area I’m most encouraged in?
And that my friends, is something that makes me want to run around, yelling and screaming and skipping!!
In my last post about marriage, I talked about how Travis and I had taken up going our own ways on weekends. We asked each other, “What are your plans for this weekend?” and both did our own things. After that post, though, things changed. We still ran the same errands on the weekends. But we ran them together.
Yes, it meant things took longer. And that we spent time doing things that weren’t our first pick (grocery shopping for him, Home Depot browsing for me). But we were together. And we were having FUN!
We’ve also been going out on one impromptu date each weekend – which has given us time to talk, laugh and enjoy one another.
And those things have made something else happen.
When Travis comes home from work, instead of giving him a slight head nod and a “Hey beads” while I continue making dinner or changing out of my running clothes, I intentionally stop what I’m doing and go hug and kiss him hello. He’s happier because I’m talking his love language. I’m happier because I actually want to hug and kiss him (which sadly, hasn’t always been the case).
When I talk to him on the phone, I enjoy hearing his voice.
When he smiles and his eyes crinkle, I feel so in love with him.
We laugh over well-timed movie lines and inside jokes.
We watch the dogs frolic from our kitchen window, silently daring them to jump the fence (but stopping them before they do – most of the time).
Travis muses aloud about Roth IRAs and whether or not he should take the new job (he did BTW and today was his last day!). Instead of rolling my eyes, ignoring him, or lamenting that we’ve already talked about this, I listen and offer him my advice…again.
Travis asks me to come look at, or help him with something, and I don’t get frustrated.
Travis wants to buy a ridiculously expensive antelope hunting tag and I don’t demand the same amount of money to spend on myself.
I win a pool table competition and instead of running out to buy a new shirt with my $30, I offer to take Travis out to lunch.
The best part about all of this?
I did none of it. It all happened organically, by the grace of God. I honestly look at all this and think, How did this happen? I surely did not cause this! This is not MY handiwork!
God did this. He inspired my obedience in one little thing: painting our front door. I hated that door. Oh, how I hated it. I painted it once, 3 coats of painstaking strokes. Only to have it peel off in my hands as I removed the painter’s tape. The door remained white for at least another a month. It took me that long to get over being angry.
Finally, at Travis’ request, I tackled it once again, this time armed with pink primer (closer to the red paint than white). I still remember standing in the hallway next to our kitchen, glaring at the door. I did. not. want. to paint the door again. I was done with it. But out of a desire to serve my husband by helping with a house project, I did it. And I swear, that was a turning point in the way I thought about our marriage.
Things have only gotten better from there. Yes, we still have disagreements and tension from time to time. But it is no longer the door-slamming, fruit-throwing, cuss-word-yelling that
our marriage my responses once were (Travis has not resorted to my form of temper tantrums).
Which proves that I, unfortunately, do not have any marriage advice. Because I could not have written this story. God’s ideas are always infinitely better than mine, though often harder to understand. Why did it take me almost 5 years of marriage to get to this place? Why did God bless me with my husband, though I abused him for so long? I don’t know.
But I do know that the best advice for anything is: Get to know God. The real God of the Bible. Jesus, who died for your sins. He is amazing. And He is the only answer you ever need.
That is not just a trite saying. I don’t say that flippantly. I say it with the full force of my being and my heart behind it. I say it as I look back on 5 years of hating the wife I was and wanting to throw in the towel. I believe that God has the power to redeem and glorify any marriage, even ones that have been torn apart by infidelity, loss or deceit. Because this God – He ransomed us from our sins. He has granted us eternal life. Surely He can do ALL things!
Put Him to the test. Ask Him to do amazing things in your marriage. Stay alert to the ways He works in your life. He will stun you.
Though I am dry and barren
By grace this love springs forth
Love for You and Your kingdom
Joy in Your glory Lord