Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Marriage Lessons Learned: Part 5

While this series has not been exhaustive of everything I’ve learned over the past ten years, it has covered some of the biggies. From my heart to yours, here’s the last installment of this series:

9. Give Grace and Mercy Every Day: Last year I wrote a story on this topic, “A Tank of Gasoline and Grace” which appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives.” If you’d like to get a copy of that book, click here:

What is grace? An unmerited gift of love from the giver. Grace is a gift that says, “I love you and forgive you even though I want to be angry, pay you back or punch you in the gut.”

Grace gives us the freedom to be human, to make mistakes and to be loved in the process. Grace is the mercy we need from one another every day, just like we need air to breathe and water to drink. I’m not perfect at this and won’t ever be, but when I extend grace and mercy to my husband, I’m reminded of God’s grace to me and how much I need it.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

10. Love Each Other for Who You Are: While we were in Maui a few months ago on our anniversary trip, we spent time at the beach and wading the waves, but didn’t do much else in the water. No snorkeling, no surfing, no climbing down a rocky cliff to jump in a waterfall. We could have done any of those things, but I’m not the outdoorsy, adventurous type, so I didn’t have any desire to do them. I’m also not a great swimmer, so I like to play it safe and stay where it’s shallow.

Will was fine with that, except the day that we drove to Hana: there was a beautiful waterfall and pool that we could have gotten in, except that I didn’t want to climb down a cliff of rocks in my flip flops with a crowd of people around. I could tell he was disappointed at my refusal and later on in the car, I felt really bad about being such a chicken.

The next morning Will golfed and I had some down time at the hotel. I still felt bad and beat myself up a bit for not being brave and just going for it. But then it occurred to me: I am brave in ways that other people are not.

According to the Book of Lists, public speaking is people’s top fear, yet I’m not afraid of public speaking. By choice, I gave birth to my two children without pain medicine just to see if I could do it; and I’ve traveled the world, braving language barriers and the comforts of home some people would never leave.

When Will arrived back from golfing, he said that he had thought about the same thing while on the golf course: that he remembered the ways I am brave and that he loves me for them.

It’s guaranteed that over time, we’ll all have things about our spouse that we think we’d like to change. But when we focus on those things, the things we love about him are pushed out of focus. It’s so much better to focus on what he is, instead of what he isn’t.

Thanks so much to those of you who have written me about how these posts have helped you! I’m honored that you spend time here.

Truth be told, I’ve learned over the past few years that there is power in vulnerability. When I’m vulnerable about my struggles and thoughts, it gives someone else permission to be open about theirs. Life is hard, but it’s easier when we can be real and encourage one another, instead of trying to make our lives appear perfect. Right?

Let’s be inspired by Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT: “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  

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