The month of February is drawing to a close. Although it is the shortest of all months, it oftentimes feels like one of the longest here in the Upper Midwest – it seems inevitable that this is the month when the snow begins to take on a dirty, ominous quality and even a balmy temperature of 32 degrees can feel cold. We’re tired of winter. We’re tired of waiting for spring. We’re tired of shielding ourselves from the elements each time we venture outdoors and we’re tired of feeling cooped up inside our homes, not able to enjoy the full potential of our outside world.
In my first post this month (“A Suitable Helper”), I told all of you wonderful Holy Hen House readers that I was going to be challenging myself to focus on relationships in this month’s posts -- namely, those we share with our significant others. A challenge indeed! Each week, I struggled with choosing a topic that was “safe” enough: personal, yet not too revealing. I wondered: Who would my audience be? Would my husband read it? Would my mom read it? What about other friends (or even mentors, gasp!) who respect me? What if I showed too much weakness or need for personal growth in such an important area of my life?
But now that these four weeks have come and are almost gone, I can honestly say, I am better for the challenge. Did I shy away from a few possible topics because they simply seemed too expose too much of myself? Sure. After all, we’ve only been at this blog for a couple of months – we’ll see how comfortable I feel next February! However, the topics I did choose (striving to be a more suitable helper, remembering how important the little things are, and allowing another to help) definitely encouraged me to look at my own marriage from a new perspective.
So after this month, that means I (and all of you) have it completely figured out, right? Perfect marriage or relationship? Check! We’ve got this part of life licked – on to the next topic, please!
Wait. Wait. Wait. Not so fast.
I doubt you truly feel this way. And I’d be lying if I said that a few blog posts written from the heart had permanently changed my attitude and made me a new person either.
But it’s a step in the right direction. And sometimes, that’s all we can ask for.
As one of our attempts at continuing to grow closer as a couple, my husband and I have tried numerous devotionals – some made specifically for couples, others not. I have to admit, I don’t think we’ve made it completely through one of the books – but we’re trying. We recently began reading the “Love & Respect” devotional. In it, the author speaks about different “cycles” in which a couple can get stuck. My husband and I found ourselves nodding in agreement as we read his written descriptions of these “cycles”. But what I truly found refreshing was when he explained that, unfortunately, as a result of sin, we will never truly be rid of these cycles during this life on earth. No matter how hard we try to break the negative cycles and stay on that of the equal “love and respect”, there will be times when we find ourselves back in the same old rut. The trick is not staying there.
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again. ~Proverbs 24:16a
Eggerichs, author of “Love & Respect”, cites the above passage in regards to this truth. He challenges the reader to place the word “spouse” after righteous to help remind us all that we will fail one another. But that we need to rise again.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that you have found some spot of encouragement in this month’s posts on our most sacred relationships. Perhaps you are blessed to feel as though you and your loved one have it “all figured out” – if so, that is absolutely wonderful and press on! Or maybe, you feel like you fail (or are failed) more than you succeed – and that’s okay, too. Regardless of which end of the "relationship spectrum" you fall on, I challenge you to find a way to make it better. Yes, you both will fall, but, with the help of God and each other, you will rise again. Refuse to be content with just “making it work” and strive for the fullness that God intended for both of you.
If you find yourself in a rut, stuck in a “February” of your own relationship, allow yourself to be renewed and inspired by your longing for spring – rid your heart of the dirty piles of resentment and pride. Open yourself up to the possibility that changing one small part of your daily interactions might just begin to open up a whole new world of possibilities, communication, and understanding. If there’s anything this journey from single woman to wife to mother has taught me, it is that life's constant changes cause changes within our hearts simultaneously. These inevitable changes create the need for constant renewal and change within our relationships, too – no matter how strong you may feel. This world is full of distractions and the devil works at us from every angle to weaken the bonds which God has blessed us with. Fight for it and don't let the devil take a foothold.
Pick up a devotional you can do by yourself or together. Attend a marriage seminar or conference. Seek advice of those in godly marriages you admire. Most importantly, pray. Pray that the Lord grants you patience, thaws your heart, renews your strength, and daily reminds you of the importance of your unity.
Whatever you do, act out of true godly love, inspired by Him who first loved us. With that as your motivation, you absolutely cannot fail.