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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Marriage Thoughts - for those who bother

I've always said there's two kinds of people in this world - those who bother and those who are bothered. I'd like to be neither. Unfortunately I fall on the side of a botherer much more than a bothered person! Pity those who have to live with me! Therefore, my preliminary comments are made to those with my particular kind of weakness (and as much a reminder to me as to anyone else who will read this):

1. When told you are bothering, or when someone is nit-picky and wants you not to do something, or to do it a different way, try not to be defensive. Try to see beyond how a thing is said, and begin to wonder if this added information/input/request could be helpful to your further growth and change. Do not take others and their botherances personally.

2. Consider how you might accommodate those who are bothered by you and the things you do. Once you have done due dilligence and sought to improve, do not live in anxiety or self-discouragement for not living up to others' standards and expectations. In God's strength, try to consider others' needs and preferences, but in the end, live by faith, not by self-evaluative striving which puts you at the center of your world and leads to self-reliance.

3. When you cannot live up to others' expectations, or fail miserably, more than once, rest in God's unfailing love, acceptance and joy over you. Seek to be content and joyful in Him.

4. While growing in contentment, also pray for yourself that your contentment would never lead to sloth, self-indulgence, pride, inconsideration towards others or any other weakness that may be lurking around the corner. At the same time if you spend too much time in self-evaluative thought you may end up staring at your navel all day and never doing or becoming anything of blessing to anyone but you. Pray for yourself, and then get on with life and serving others.

5. Don't get into the 'woe is me' self-absorbed pity-party that you may feel like having. Remember there are many faithful examples both in Scripture and in Church history of failing 'saints' who learned joy and contentment and peace in any and every situation. Others have gone before and dealt with the dissatisfactions of others. Have they all 'stood up for themselves'? Or did they meekly submit and endeavour to please those about them? Or did they do both at different times? Trust God to give wisdom in this.

6. Respond to those who blame, accuse, are annoyed, nit-pick with love, gentleness and grace. Do not return an insult for an insult, but rather with kindness. Do not always deflect others' input as being negative - even if it is. Forget about the way something was said and look to the heart of it. Pray about others' annoyances and their growth in faith (to trust God to help them with their dissatisfactions). But for the most part, leave the others' growth to God in His time. You cannot be their personal 'Holy Spirit'.

7. Do not - DO NOT - think of yourself as a victim or martyr. Think of Christ instead who was both, but never without full control of Himself or the situation. Do not think you are more noble than others. Scripture teaches us to esteem others as BETTER than ourselves. "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought but rather think of yourself with sober judgement in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Basically, don't be proud - condescension, patronizing, 'I'm better than you' thinking will seep out of you in ways you are unaware of and which are highly distasteful and upsetting to those around you. You may think you are discreet in your inner judgements but they do leak out in subtle ways that you may not be able to see yourself.

8. Live free in Christ - but never use that freedom to indulge the flesh - 'but rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love.' Yes, you are free to do and act and say things in a whole variety of ways - but are you doing all these things in a spirit of loving service to others? (Ouch - I don't like reading this, writing this or even thinking this). Unfortunately, I do struggle in this area. I love being free in Christ. And sometimes I am tempted to use it for selfishness - so therefore it is not true freedom because I am not using it to serve others in love.

9. You cannot change those around you. And you cannot depend on them and their behaviour/speech to make you happy. Your joy must be rooted and grounded in the love God has for you - live and breath that love as your daily breath! Let your heart be joy-filled, even if those around you are not. Let peace and joy radiate from you. This may make you more tolerable to others. And it may not. Grow in the secret of 'being content in any and every circumstance.' This includes coming under others' judgemental (and irritating, might I add) eye.

10. Pray and ask God to show you where you need to grow and change. Take others' criticisms and carefully consider where there might be truth that needs to be heard and heeded. Keep your conversation with God going at all times - when you hear negative input from others - pray - when you want to yell something not-so-nice back - pray - when you want to list all of that person's faults - pray instead - when you want to become a perfectionist and please everyone around you - pray and seek to please God instead - when you wallow in self-pity and discouragement - pray - when you think you've endured enough and can't take anymore - pray and ask God for His help and strength - when you think it's time someone appreciated all the good things about you - pray and reflect on the fact that you are nothing without Christ - when you are angry at being mistreated - pray, and deal with the mistreatment appropriately - when you want to give up - pray and say, 'I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.'

And that's just for starters...

2 comments:

  1. Lovely post! So much to think about and consider. And, I personally, love the correlations with Buddhism. I was thinking about commitment at the weekend (my 5 yr anniversary) and how people say you must work at marriage, or they give up because it was too hard or too much work... my abiding thought was that, surely, if you truly love someone and want to be with them for the rest of your life then the commitment that you are actually making is not so much to be with them but to be prepared to put in the work to be with them.

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  2. Yes, I agree Lucy - thanks for your comment. Marriage is work - but with great rewards! Much of what I said relates to being at peace within onesself and not needing to live for others' approval. It is a struggle common to all mankind! But how freeing once we see that others' unacceptance of us does not have to be taken to heart!

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