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Posts tagged ‘selfishness’

Marriage Isn’t For You

SOURCE:  Seth Adam Smith

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.  Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided we no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and anguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.

 

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Do You Know How To Ask For What You Want?

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Leslie Vernick

Many misunderstandings and conflicts arise because we never tell someone how we truly feel or ask for what we want.  We assume the other person knows or should know those things without us having to say them. But trust me, they don’t.

Women are taught to communicate indirectly and, most of the time, people in our lives–especially men–don’t get it. For example, when taking a long trip, I used to say to my husband, “Are you hungry yet?” What I really meant by that question is “I’m hungry. Let’s find a place to eat.” But that felt too bold, too direct and too selfish, so instead I asked him if he was hungry. Unfortunately, he often answered, “Nope, not yet.” And then I sat and starved, waiting until he decided he was hungry enough to stop.

When I wanted to enlist his help on the weekend, I said, “What are you doing this weekend?” He always had plenty he wanted to do, so then I wouldn’t ask him to help me. Now I’ve learned to say, “There is a lot of yard work that needs to be done; I’d like you to be available to help on Saturday.” There are times when he says, “That’s fine” and other times when he says, “I can’t. I planned something else.” But at least I’ve asked and he’s responded. That’s a good starting place to begin negotiation and/or compromise.

Another problem I see when I encourage women to be more direct in asking for what they want, is that they feel it’s selfish to ask.  Asking directly for what we want or need is not being selfish; it’s being honest.

The Bible tells us that we are to “look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). It never says we are not to look out for our own interests. Asking for what you want or desire, or expressing how you feel, is not selfish. Demanding that everyone always give you what you want is selfish. No one always gets everything he or she wants, but it is not selfish to have legitimate desires or want something God says is good for us to want.  We are, however, also to be considerate and thoughtful in regard to what someone else wants. That allows loving communication and compromise to occur.

If you never ask for what you want or never share how you feel, but find yourself resenting not getting what you want or growing tired of being in a lopsided relationship, then you must start to take responsibility for your own passivity. When we start to make a change and speak up, a conflict may occur because what we want is not what someone else wants.

Momentary Pleasure: What’s Your “Bowl of Soup?”

SOURCE:  Charles Stanley/In Touch Ministries

The Lure of Momentary Pleasure

You probably read the story of Jacob and Esau today and thought, I can’t believe Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. How foolish! But let’s think beyond birthrights and soup. Is there anything of true value that you are trading for something of lesser worth?

In other words, what is your “bowl of soup”?

Have you pursued wealth and a career at the expense of family? Maybe your busy schedule has kept you from spending time with God in His Word each day. Some people become involved in extramarital affairs, trading the well-being of their family for the satisfaction of lustful desires. Others sacrifice their health by consuming harmful or addictive substances, or even by overindulging in food. The list of ways we make foolish, shortsighted choices is endless.

Some of the decisions we make today could rob us of the blessings God wants to give us. When you yield to temptation in a moment of weakness, you’re actually sacrificing your future for momentary pleasure. We can’t afford to live thoughtlessly, basing our decisions on immediate desires or feelings. Since the principle of sowing and reaping cannot be reversed, we need to carefully consider what we are planting. The harvest will come, and we’ll reap what we have sown–and more than we’ve sown.

Are you contemplating anything that could have serious long-term ramifications if you yield to the yearning? A wise person evaluates choices by looking ahead to see what negative consequences could follow a course of action.

Don’t let “a bowl of soup” hinder God’s wonderful plans for you.

I Am As Sick As My Secrets – Search Me, Lord

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors

“What a man is before God, that he is and nothing more.” -St. Francis of Assisi

Delilah said to him, “How can you say you ‘I love you’ when your heart is not with me?… So Sampson told her all that was in his heart… when Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent and called the lord of the Philistines… and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair… she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Sampson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had abandoned him. (Judges 16)

Sampson. Powerful and strong. It is interesting that his strength was not really in his hair. His strength was in his heart. He was a Nazirite. The Hebrew word nazir means consecrated or separated. And it was by choice. His mother Manoah had dedicated him to this Nazirite vow before his birth. However, Hebrew law required that when he was old enough to understand, he recommit his life… permanently… to this vow. His heart belonged solely to his God. Until he gave it up to Delilah.

In a similar story, Amaziah served as king in Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 25:2 records this indictment, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart.” Again, the original Hebrew language gives incredible insight into this verse. The word perfect (shalem), denotes complete… full… finished. Most of Amaziah’s heart was God’s. But he had saved out a little portion for himself. In the end, he was defeated and captured by Joash.

Could it be that many of the struggles in our Christian walk can be traced back to the same issue that Sampson and Amaziah had? A heart that is not “perfect” toward God. Those tiny areas that we hang onto for ourselves. The hidden parts. It has been said, “You’re only as sick as your secrets”. Perhaps that is why the Psalmist David pleaded “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me.” Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV) Again in Psalm 19:12 “… cleanse thou me from secret faults.” (KJV)

The “grace” piece in all of this, is that God will do just that. He will show you the fragment of your heart that is not His. His Light will shine in the dark places of your heart to reveal the “secret place”. The sin that we cover, He will uncover — the sin that we uncover, He will cover. Surrender your whole heart to Him. Without a doubt, it will turn your life around.

FAMILIES EXPERIENCING TROUBLE: A BROADER VIEW OF ADDICTION

SOURCE: Adapted from Helping Troubled Families by Charles M. Sell

Helping Troubled Families: A Guide for Pastors, Counselors, and Supporters

For practical reasons, many experts are taking a broader view of addiction, a biopsychosocial one.  They view substance abuse as a complex condition and endorse multiple strategies for dealing with it.  Using drugs and alcohol may serve any number or purposes – avoiding responsibility, medicating emotional pain, dealing with a difficult relationship, etc.  These behaviors are inadequate ways of coping with the underlying problems that sustain them.

*God in a Bottle – If there were one reason above all others for people becoming addicts, it would be a spiritual one.  People worship their addictions.  Ironically, for them, spirits replace the divine Spirit.  It is a form of selfishness or self-idolatry.  The feeling of power and exotic excitement in addiction is an attempt to rise above the routine of living.  For this reason, many label addictions idolatry.  It is obviously so, since the addict’s center of life has become the substance/behavior to which he or she is addicted.  Addicts testify that nothing else mattered to them once they became hooked – not family, health, pleasure – nothing was more important to them than satisfying their craving for a fix.

The Old Testament describes idolatry as putting something in front of God.  When God commands that we “have no other gods before” Him, idolatry/addictive behaviors consist of putting something/anything in front of God, disguising and distorting God’s true face.  Every sin emerges from the fact that God is no longer first in our lives but is concealed by something created.

Viewing addiction as a form of idolatry should encourage us as Christians to be confident of our own spiritual resources to treat it.  Salvation through faith in Christ and sanctification through reliance on the Holy Spirit strike at the heart of idolatry.

*For Pleasure or Escape – Addicted people are crippled by their past experiences, unable to choose and exercise responsibility for their behavior.  Some use addictive behaviors as a way to escape emotional hurt sometimes sourced in their troubled childhood family.  People often use addictions not to make their hearts happy but to put their souls to sleep.  When people use addictive behaviors to escape suffering, they fail to cope with their problems in functional ways.  This only compounds their problems, which don’t go away but remain to keep nudging them to return to their “drug” of choice to escape.

Dependence is learned as a result of living in a family where a behavior is rewarded one time and punished the next.  Children learn to be dependent on cues from their environment to know how to act.  They are often not taught to follow their feelings but rather to follow the actions of another – to react as opposed to act.  The perceptive child grows to learn how to watch the family so that under each changing set of circumstances he or she will know how to act.  When the cues keep changing and the consequences for mistakes are severe, the child becomes dependent on these external cues to know what to do.  By training themselves to trust only external cues, not only do children learn dependency but they also perceive that feeling good can come only from a source outside of themselves.  This helps explain why children of addicts learn to depend on others and not themselves in a relationship.  Once addiction becomes a problem for them, addicts will continue to use the substance/behavior not so much to obtain enjoyment but to blot out the pain of the disastrous effects their heavy use is causing them.  They then search for more relief from the addiction moving farther into the process of addiction.  Sobriety means giving up their maladaptive way of coping with their emotions and their troubles.  Recovery must include making major life changes.

*Relational and Trust Issues – Sometimes addictive behaviors are blamed on others and other relational factors can be involved in addictions.  One’s acting out might keep the focus of the problem on the addict rather than other family members.  Some use addictive behaviors to draw attention to themselves and excuse themselves from their responsibilities.  Addictive behaviors can be used to control others through manipulation or as a way of not being controlled by others.  Addictive behaviors can be used to avoid intimacy and the threat of self-disclosing including the risk of rejection.  Because of not having healthy relationships, those involved in addictive behaviors may not have learned to trust people.  Their emotional isolation from others eventually leads them to establish an emotional relationship with some substance or activity.  They turn to it because it is dependable – they can trust it to give them the lift that they need and the nurture that they are unable to receive from others.  Addictions are dependable; people are not.

*Stinkin’ Thinkin’ – The thinking of one involved in an addictive behavior is distorted.  One’s life can be falling apart, health deteriorating, family in ruins, and job in jeopardy, but he/she seems unable to recognize this.  Family and friends may even be taken in by this “addictive thinking” because the addict sounds convincing to friends, pastors, employers, doctors, and even counselors.  It is difficult to understand if this perverted reasoning is the cause or the result of the addiction.  For example, “Am I addicted because of my intolerable life, or is my life intolerable because of my addiction?”  Once the intense craving begins, it affects the person’s thinking in much the same way as a bribe or other personal interest distorts one’s judgment.  The addict’s need will be so powerful that he or she will think anything that will justify the next fix. Addicts’ illusion of control is part of these rationalizations.  Although their lives have become grossly unmanageable, they steadfastly insist they are still in charge.  They falsely claim they can quit anytime they want.  They do this because they think in terms of minutes, not hours or days.  Recovering addicts must patiently stay sober moment after moment.

Making A Mess Of Marriage

SOURCE:  Dr.Tony Evans

There is no area in which God’s power needs to be more graphically demonstrated than in marriage. Today, over half of all marriages end in divorce. Compounding this tragedy is the fact that not only are the marriages of non-Christians being destroyed, but believers are streaming into the divorce courts as well. For Christians to experience such defeat is an embarrassment to the kingdom of God and an insult to the Creator of marriage.

The Bible tells us that God has the power to do anything He wills. Although God is all-powerful, many Christians don’t believe He can keep their homes together. Christians often don’t recognize God’s power to heal their hurts and repair the damage to their marriages and families. Instead of running to God for help, they accept defeat and sometimes adopt loose living because “everyone is doing it.” It is not unusual to hear Christians excusing their immorality with statements like, “I’m only human.” They have bought Satan’s lie that failure in one’s personal life and in one’s marital life is to be expected.

In some Christian homes, battle lines are drawn. Husbands are looking at their wives and saying, “If I hadn’t married you, I’d be successful and important by now.” And wives are looking at their husbands and saying, “If I hadn’t married you, I wouldn’t be stuck at home with four kids while you’re out having a good time.” Negative, selfish attitudes like those are bringing tension in many homes to an explosive level. The fact is, many people simply don’t know how to be married. They have never studied God’s instruction manual on marriage. The Bible provides clear guidelines for making good, stable marriages, but too many people are looking for directions in other places and ruining their marriages in the process.

Many people subscribe to the popular version of love and marriage that begins when two young people fall in love an emotional experience identified by chills, thrills, and butterflies in their stomachs. With eyes only for each other, the infatuated pair promise undying love and rush to the altar to pronounce their vows. Unfortunately, soon after they say, “I do,” they don’t anymore. Their relationship looks as if they were married by the Secretary of War instead of the Justice of the Peace. Divorce seems the only way to forge a truce.

I recently came across an interesting illustration of the way marriages deteriorate over the years. The comments are those of a husband whose wife has caught a cold during the successive years of their marriage.

  • Year 1 -”Sugar dumpling, this cold is making you mighty uncomfortable. Won’t you let your lover boy take his baby to the doctor to get rid of that nasty cough?”
  • Year 2 – “Darling, that cold seems to be getting worse. Call Dr. Miller.”
  • Year 3 – “You’d better lie down, dear, and rest with that cold before the baby wakes up.”
  • Year 4 – “Be sensible now and take care of that cold before it gets any worse.”
  • Year 5 – “You’ll be all right. Just take some aspirin. By the way, how about ironing these pants for me to wear today?”
  • Year 6 – “Would you do something about that cough, instead of barking like a seal?”
  • Year 7 – “Woman, do something about that cold before you give me pneumonia!”

An example like this one makes a very subtle process look obvious. As a marriage decays, our focus shifts from concern for our spouse, to mutual concern, to concern for ourselves. Whether consciously or unconsciously, both husbands and wives frequently fall prey to this phenomenon. And the process of deterioration can be alarmingly quick.

How can things fall apart a week after the honeymoon? And why do marriages break down after ten, fifteen, and even twenty-five years? The root cause is the failure to understand God’s design and purpose for marriage.

Six Steps for Resolving Conflict in Marriage

Source: Adapted from an article by Dennis and Barbara Rainey

Few couples like to admit it, but conflict is common to all marriages.  Start with two selfish people with different backgrounds and personalities. Now add some bad habits and interesting idiosyncrasies, throw in a bunch of expectations, and then turn up the heat a little with the daily trials of life. Guess what? You are bound to have conflict. It’s unavoidable.

Since every marriage has its tensions, it isn’t a question of avoiding them but of how you deal with them. Conflict can lead to a process that develops oneness or isolation. You and your spouse must choose how you will act when conflict occurs.

Step One: Resolving conflict requires knowing, accepting, and adjusting to your differences.

One reason we have conflict in marriage is that opposites attract. Usually a task-oriented individual marries someone who is more people-oriented. People who move through life at breakneck speed seem to end up with spouses who are slower-paced. It’s strange, but that’s part of the reason why you married who you did. Your spouse added a variety, spice, and difference to your life that it didn’t have before.

But after being married for a while (sometimes a short while), the attractions become repellents. You may argue over small irritations—such as how to properly squeeze a tube of toothpaste—or over major philosophical differences in handling finances or raising children.   You may find that your backgrounds and your personalities are so different that you wonder how and why God placed you together in the first place.

It’s important to understand these differences, and then to accept and adjust to them. Just as Adam accepted God’s gift of Eve, you are called to accept His gift to you. God gave you a spouse who completes you in ways you haven’t even learned yet.

Step Two: Resolving conflict requires defeating selfishness.

All of our differences are magnified in marriage because they feed what is undoubtedly the biggest source of our conflict—our selfish, sinful nature.

Maintaining harmony in marriage has been difficult since Adam and Eve. Two people beginning their marriage together and trying to go their own selfish, separate ways can never hope to experience the oneness of marriage as God intended. The prophet Isaiah portrayed the problem accurately more than 2,500 years ago when he described basic human selfishness like this: “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). We are all self-centered; we all instinctively look out for number one, and this leads directly to conflict.

Marriage offers a tremendous opportunity to do something about selfishness. We have seen the Bible’s plan work in our lives, and we’re still seeing it work daily. We have not changed each other; God has changed both of us. The answer for ending selfishness is found in Jesus and His teachings. He showed us that instead of wanting to be first, we must be willing to be last. Instead of wanting to be served, we must serve. Instead of trying to save our lives, we must lose them. We must love our neighbors (our spouses) as much as we love ourselves. In short, if we want to defeat selfishness, we must give up, give in, and give all. As Philippians 2:1-8 tells us:

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

To experience oneness, you must give up your will for the will of another. But to do this, you must first give up your will to Christ, and then you will find it possible to give up your will for that of your spouse.

Step Three: Resolving conflict requires pursuing the other person.

Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” The longer I live the more I realize how difficult those words are for many couples. Living peaceably means pursuing peace. It means taking the initiative to resolve a difficult conflict rather than waiting for the other person to take the first step.

To pursue the resolution of a conflict means setting aside your own hurt, anger, and bitterness. It means not losing heart. My challenge to you is to “keep your relationships current.” In other words, resolve that you will remain in solid fellowship daily with your spouse—as well as with your children, parents, coworkers, and friends. Don’t allow Satan to gain a victory by isolating you from someone you care about.

Step Four: Resolving conflict requires loving confrontation.

Wordsworth said, “He who has a good friend needs no mirror.” Blessed is the marriage where both spouses feel the other is a good friend who will listen, understand, and work through any problem or conflict. To do this well takes loving confrontation.

Confronting your spouse with grace and tactfulness requires wisdom, patience, and humility. Here are a few other tips we’ve found useful:

  • Check your motivation. Will your words help or hurt? Will bringing this up cause healing, wholeness, and oneness, or further isolation?
  • Check your attitude. Loving confrontation says, “I care about you. I respect you and I want you to respect me. I want to know how you feel.” Don’t hop on your bulldozer and run your spouse down. Approach your spouse lovingly.
  • Check the circumstances. This includes timing, location, and setting. Don’t confront your spouse, for example, when he is tired from a hard day’s work, or in the middle of settling a squabble between the children. Also, never criticize, make fun of, or argue with your spouse in public.
  • Check to see what other pressures may be present. Be sensitive to where your spouse is coming from. What’s the context of your spouse’s life right now?
  • Listen to your spouse. Seek to understand his or her view, and ask questions to clarify viewpoints.
  • Be sure you are ready to take it as well as dish it out. You may start to give your spouse some “friendly advice” and soon learn that what you are saying is not really his problem, but yours!
  • During the discussion, stick to one issue at a time. Don’t bring up several. Don’t save up a series of complaints and let your spouse have them all at once.
  • Focus on the problem, rather than the person. For example, you need a budget and your spouse is something of a spendthrift. Work through the plans for finances and make the lack of budget the enemy, not your spouse.
  • Focus on behavior rather than character. This is the “you” message versus the “I” message again. You can assassinate your spouse’s character and stab him right to the heart with “you” messages like, “You’re always late—you don’t care about me at all; you don’t care about anyone but yourself.” The “I” message would say, “I feel frustrated when you don’t let me know you’ll be late. I would appreciate if you would call so we can make other plans.”
  • Focus on the facts rather than judging motives. If your spouse forgets to make an important call, deal with the consequences of what you both have to do next rather than say, “You’re so careless; you just do things to irritate me.”
  • Above all, focus on understanding your spouse rather than on who is winning or losing. When your spouse confronts you, listen carefully to what is said and what isn’t said. For example, it may be that he is upset about something that happened at work and you’re getting nothing more than the brunt of that pressure.


Step Five: Resolving conflict requires forgiveness.

No matter how hard two people try to love and please each other, they will fail. With failure comes hurt. And the only ultimate relief for hurt is the soothing salve of forgiveness.

The key to maintaining an open, intimate, and happy marriage is to ask for and grant forgiveness quickly. And the ability to do that is tied to each individual’s relationship with God.

About the process of forgiveness, Jesus said, “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14–15). The instruction is clear: God insists that we are to be forgivers, and marriage—probably more than any other relationship—presents frequent opportunities to practice.

Forgiving means giving up resentment and the desire to punish. By an act of your will, you let the other person off the hook. And as a Christian you do not do this under duress, scratching and screaming in protest. Rather, you do it with a gentle spirit and love, as Paul urged: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Step Six: Resolving conflict requires returning a blessing for an insult.

First Peter 3:8-9 says, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”

Every marriage operates on either the “Insult for Insult” or the “Blessing for Insult” relationship. Husbands and wives can become extremely proficient at trading insults—about the way he looks, the way she cooks, or the way he drives and the way she cleans house. Many couples don’t seem to know any other way to relate to each other.

What does it mean to return a blessing for an insult? Chapter three of 1 Peter goes on to say “For, ‘the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it’” (verses 10-11).

To give a blessing first means stepping aside or simply refusing to retaliate if your spouse gets angry. Changing your natural tendency to lash out, fight back, or tell your spouse off is just about as easy as changing the course of the Mississippi River. You can’t do it without God’s help, without yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit.

It also means doing good. Sometimes doing good simply takes a few words spoken gently and kindly, or perhaps a touch, a hug, or a pat on the shoulder. It might mean making a special effort to please your spouse by performing a special act of kindness.

Finally, being a blessing means seeking peace, actually pursuing it. When you eagerly seek to forgive, you are pursuing oneness, not isolation.

Our hope

As difficult as it is to work through conflict in marriage, we can claim God’s promises as we do so. Not only does God bless our efforts based on His Word, but He also tells us He has an ultimate purpose for our trials. First Peter 1:6-7 tells us,

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

God’s purpose in our conflicts is to test our faith, to produce endurance, to refine us, and to bring glory to Himself. This is the hope He gives us—that we can actually approach our conflicts as an opportunity to strengthen our faith and to glorify God.

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