Thursday, 13 June 2013

I Don’t Covet (Much)

“It is impossible to covet what you don’t have and work on what you do have” Paul Friesen

here are things I want but I am not likely to get.  For example I’d love to have a younger body.   Over my long life I have been blessed with very good health.  All of a sudden I have aches in places I didn’t even know I had places.  I have no desire to be younger, I just covet a younger body.    I have an addiction – to sweets, particularly chocolate.  I work hard at resisting the temptation to go on a binge and I resent those people whose metabolism enables them to eat whatever they want without gaining an ounce of weight.  There are certain cars that I could see myself driving but since they would cost two times my annual salary it is highly unlikely.  I would love to be able to play the piano, but that would probably require that I practice.  I am jealous of people with great singing voices and I would love to be able to carry a tune.  I love golf but shooting a round of golf that was within 20 strokes of my age seems like an improbability.
Much of what I covet is frivolous but it has not always been that way.  There was a time when I desperately wanted a marriage that was filled with warmth, laughter, unity, understanding and love.  When I would see couples who appeared to have such a relationship I wanted what I thought they had.  Such thoughts did not help me to appreciate the wife that God had given me.  Sadly she was plagued by bi-polar illness and schizophrenia much of our married life, until her home-going in 2002.

As you might appreciate, as a counselor I hear a lot of versions of “If only …”  If only my husband was a better communicator; if only my wife wanted to be intimate more often; if only we had a bigger house; if only we had more money; if only my husband wouldn’t spend so much time playing video games; if only my wife would stop nagging me.  Behind each of these statements is the implication that the “right” person would be different than my husband/wife.  The more “if only’s” we have the more we covet a different relationship.

Paul & Virginia Friesen
Paul Friesen’s point is simply the more time we spend dwelling on what our marriage isn’t like the less likely we are to focus on all the positive aspects of our relationship.  Our culture sure doesn’t help.  The number of divorces makes it seem as though trading in a spouse is not a whole lot different than upgrading your iPhone.

I challenge you to make a list of the top ten things you absolutely love and adore about your spouse.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Now You Tell Me

One of my favorite Christian authors is John Ortberg.  I tend to be fairly simplistic so his humor, stories and practical application of Biblical principles really appeals to me.  An example comes from his book The Me I Want to Be .

Someone once said they thought the best marriage in the Bible was between Noah and Joan of Ark…nowhere in the Bible do a couple get married and then live “happily ever after. In the Bible, marriage is not the fulfillment of our dreams; it is a place where we learn. 

Can’t you just hear the pastor saying, “Dearly beloved we are here today to witness the joining of this couple for the purpose of learning – learning more about their sinful nature, learning more about life and learning how to cope with someone as sinful as they are.”

That would be the last wedding ceremony that pastor would perform.  But perhaps it is a lack of honesty before our nuptials that contributes too much of the dissatisfaction afterwards.  What happened to the person I dated?  Where did those irritating mannerisms come from?  I thought after we were married I could change them.  Don’t I deserve to be happy and fulfilled?  Isn’t he/she supposed to meet my needs?  I expected them to…

As long as our paradigm about marriage focuses on what marriage should do for me it will never work.  There is no Mr. or Ms. Right because nowhere in the universe is there someone waiting to cater to all your whims.

Now consider the possibility that God, in His infinite wisdom, has a different plan for marriage.  He wants our marriage to bring glory and honor to Him while at the same time bringing us inexpressible joy. Counter-intuitive as it may seem God wired us to be most fulfilled when we are giving sacrificially.  As a Christian we are to have a desire to become more and more like Christ, and He redefined the word sacrifice.

If you have found that your marriage is less than you had hoped it would be why not accept a challenge for 30 days. At the beginning of the challenge rate your marital satisfaction on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being great).  At the end of the 30 days, assuming you have truly been other centered, rate your satisfaction. During this time put your spouse’s desires ahead of your own, his/her deal ahead of your deal, their needs ahead of your needs.

Let me know what happens