I grew up thinking that every kid got along with their parents. I thought everyone went to church and all the activities offered there. I thought everyone stood around the piano and sang Disney songs with their families. I thought everyone put God first, their family second, everyone else third, and themselves last.
I was wrong.
People are selfish. Our society has a sense of entitlement that goes beyond my comprehension. We are told that if it doesn’t make us happy, then we don’t have to do it. Adjusting our behavior to accommodate the feelings of a loved one is a ludicrous suggestion.
Tonight, Michael and I were talking about this and I asked him why we treat each other the way we do. I wanted to know because apparently, I have been completely delusional about how most folks act at home.
His answer: the Holy Spirit.
Michael and I are both Christians. We have given our lives over to Jesus and strive to follow His leading in every area of our life. However, we’re also very normal, sinful people. We have a sin nature, like everyone since the beginning of time, with the exception of Jesus Christ. When I get angry, my first thought is not a verse of scripture. I wish it was! I pray that the Lord will give me that discipline and ability as I grow. But right now, it’s not my instant reaction. However, I don’t attack my husband or children in my anger. While my first thought is not, “Man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” (James 1:20), I know through the things I’ve been taught and the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life that acting out in anger does not glorify God. I may not be actively thinking about how I can glorify God in the moment, but because of His dwelling in me, He glorifies Himself through me by giving me the self-control to not verbally attack my family.
Of course, we make mistakes, but through the presence of the Spirit in our lives we are given what we need to change our behavior if we need to. Because we know we are not our own, and we belong to Christ, it is easier to be selfless. When you’ve already died to self, then you realize that you are not in relationships for your own good, but for the good of others. This is only possible through a relationship with God through Jesus.
When I do something Michael is not crazy about, he never fusses at me or tears me down by telling me how his way is better. If there is something I’m doing that really upsets him, he asks me to adjust, and I trust him enough to know that he’s asking me for my good, not for his selfish gain. Y’all, this makes us sound like we have it together. We don’t! But we practice, every single day, loving each other selflessly. Michael takes seriously the scripture that commands him to “love your wife just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her to make her holy…” (Eph. 5:25-26). He wants me to be holy before God. He desires for me to have a close relationship with Jesus, so he does his best to love me as Jesus loves me. He loves me for how it benefits ME, not him.
I hope this doesn’t sound self-righteous. I don’t mean it to be at all. We’re as messed up as anybody when it comes to the everyday sin in our lives. But we know we have a Savior who has paid the price for our sin and given us a new life. Because He lives in us, we can live every day in marriage and know that it’s not about us. It’s about Him. We love only because He loves us first.
I’ve learned that what I thought about the world as a child was not the reality. But in my house, in my marriage, in my life, I can create my own reality based on what God wants for my family. That’s not naive’, that’s being responsible to protect my marriage and my family from the ugliness of the world, while loving those that God puts in our path.