Amy deserves a white horse. So why do I schlump around on this donkey so often?
Guys, self-centeredness is like gravity. Husbands, and soon-to-be-husbands, and someday-to-be-husbands, you have to fight self-centeredness like the tide coming in. Of course, Christ followers, this process is life-long – the process of sanctification – and it is a Spiritual work that God does in us as we submit to His sovereignty. So really, I could write about the fight against our self-aggrandizing nature independent of the context of marriage. But in marriage, the process has highlighter all over it. It’s “Husbandry 101.” The starting point, and the primary ongoing battle. It is more poignant in this place, because the consequences of our choices are exponentially multiplied.
Why? Because in marriage, you are not “you” anymore… you are “us.” Every choice, every action, every word, every inaction effects “us.” The two are ONE.
A close friend of mine has said that marriage is God’s primary tool of sanctification on earth. I buy that. And to clarify my theology, I believe fully that the refining work on our hearts that leads to selfless living is God’s work in us, not our struggle and striving to be better. Husbands, you are not personally called to be the refining tool, chipping away at the parts of your wife that you would like to see changed. That is God’s job, not yours. But the point remains strong: when two individuals become ONE, each individual must submit their will to the “us.” Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church – whom He died for. Wives, submit to your husbands. Both positions require deference, grace, and sacrifice.
So, back to me on the donkey. If this blog is going to matter, and I write from my life experience, then I have to choose a degree of transparency that may be uncomfortable once in awhile. This is that kind of day. Because I love my wife, but I have not been very good at living it out. Gravity has overtaken me. So today, I’m rising up again. Asking for strength from the Holy Spirit to fight my self-centered nature and to be truly transformed again. Because I love my wife. So deeply.
It is time for a return to Husdandry 101 for me. Where I have allowed the gravitational pull of self to weaken my leadership in this home and marriage, I am making a fresh start. God grants forgiveness, and Amy extends grace to me in the process, so there is no need to stay “stuck” in my failings. God writes redemption stories, after all. So I’m moving forward. Here are three things (of several) that I am committed to. And in this forum, I am now publicly accountable:
(1) Praying together more. Prayer is intimate. Amy and I pray together – yes. But I am committed to inviting those moments more and more frequently. In those minutes our hearts are thinking the same God-thoughts, making the same requests, praising Him for the same people and gifts and moments. I will pray more with Amy.
(2) Date nights. No longer a luxury. An imperative I will fight hard for. Yes, we have five boys. Yes, we often take care of four or five more children at a time. Yes, it seems logistically challenging to carve out time away for just us. These are all reasons FOR a regular romantic escape together. So “us” remains “us” and doesn’t drift into “me” and “her.”
(3) Accountability. By that I mean I am recommitting to be accountable, in a hundred small ways, to my commitments. Pastor Andy Stanley from Northpoint Church in Atlanta, GA, talks about what it means to be “trustworthy.” Simply put, that means being WORTHY of trust. Not that we won’t make an occasional mistake – but that our track record of follow-through is consistent and dependable.
Those who know me best (tip of the cap to my dear friends on the Living Hope Praise Team) know that I tend to run 10 minutes late. WAY too often. This has been true in my home, as well, and I know it frustrates my bride.
Andy Stanley talks about a key step in building trustworthiness. He says we must “address the gaps.” Accountability. When there is a gap between our stated expectation and the outcome of our actions, we must address the gap that is created between the two. Own it. Be accountable. I intend to erase these gaps between my words and my life. And when I still run late, I will be accountable for the gap.
There are many other ways in which I am making a fresh start as a husband right now. But those commitments and goals are between me, and Amy, and God. I just wanted to pull the curtain back a little… to inspire God-thoughts in other husbands out there. My tangible steps toward being a better Josh for Amy can be summed up like this: MORE PDA. Prayer. Dates. Accountability.
Guys, what’s one thing you can do to fight the gravitational pull of SELF?
“this time i really mean it :: husbandry 101” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.