On a daily basis, at any given moment, we surrender ourselves to the things around us. Whether it be mindlessly watching TV, surfing social media, or even getting lost in a book. But we don’t see it as a bad thing, especially since certain activities we engage in are actually beneficial to us. On a larger scale, we often surrender our own happiness for things like giving another person power to control our attitudes. Granted, it’s not always easy to control our tongue when we’re offended. But if we stop and think about what we’re giving up, we likely wouldn’t be so quick to do it time and time again.
We give our power away when we allow another person to define us, whether it be in a marriage, friendship, or even people we work with. Our lives were never meant to be fulfilled by anything but God. He is the only true source of happiness and contentment, no matter how much money a person has. I have found that I tend to put my happiness in the hands of my husband. I never realized I did this until somewhat recently. I never would have defined myself as a needy person because I felt like it would drive people away. I suppressed all my needs to the point of thinking I actually didn’t have any. At the beginning of our relationship, I found myself becoming attached but I wanted to let him think I wasn’t like the “typical” girls he’d known. So I did what I do best and built walls around my heart so that I could protect myself from being hurt. Again, this is a habit I developed as a small child, so it’s the only thing I’ve ever known. Realizing I have needs is difficult, especially when I don’t know what to do with them. Do I list them, ask him to fulfill only certain ones, do I change who I am to accept who he is? It’s an intricate balance, and one I have yet to figure out. It can make navigating a marriage very difficult because I never know when to let my “neediness” show. And if I do, I feel like I’m being selfish because I know serving the other person is the best way to grow our character.
It can be very overwhelming at times, I must admit. I pray daily for guidance on how to show my husband I need him without expecting him to fulfill me in ways he wasn’t designed to. I know God is working in my heart because ultimately He’s the only one who can satisfy the deepest longings I have to be loved and accepted. I remember telling myself in my first marriage there was no way he truly loved me because he didn’t act at all like what I’d read in the Bible. It wasn’t until I found The Power Of A Praying Wife that I realized I was subconsciously expecting him to be all these things he would never be. It was a gut check moment, and I initially felt defeated because it seemed like there was no point to being married if he wasn’t supposed to love me the way I felt I deserved.
I have found that being married is the ultimate way to become a servant. It is the most challenging thing for our human flesh to completely abandon ourselves for the sake of our marriage. It’s counterintuitive and goes against everything we are as humans. Even being one of the most selfless people I know, serving my husband at times can feel more like a chore than an honor. But I know that goes along with doing things for the betterment of our marriage even when we don’t feel like it. Our feelings are like our looks, fleeting, transient. I read somewhere that they should be indicators, not dictators. When I’m feeling offended by something my husband has said or done, the last thing I want to do is serve him in love. But I know when I’m obedient to what God says, I’m blessed and it enriches my character. It also gets easier when we surrender to God on a daily basis and ask for His strength to help us navigate our feelings. It’s easy to be mad, pout, feel justified in our behavior. But God expects us to follow His word regardless of what our emotions are saying. If we stop and pray in the midst of our irritation, we will find that those instant frustrated feelings go away. There have been many times I’ve been preparing dinner and my husband will offend or irritate me, and I want to lash out or state my opinion. The times I choose not to and go back to my task at hand, I oftentimes find that I’ve forgotten I was even mad-God is funny that way.
My point is, if you give into your feelings all the time, they will control you. But if you see them for what they are, you learn to control them and become more and more obedient, which is God’s desire for us. We don’t grow or mature if we are constantly justifying our feelings or attitude. Think of children and how quickly they get riled up, and how quickly it’s over. If we create a habit of giving into what we’re feeling, we adopt a victim mentality. God doesn’t want us to live that way, that’s why children don’t stay little for long. God wants to continually grow and mature us, but we can’t do that living based on what we feel like doing. I know I’m currently in the middle of this process and it is difficult. But I know there’s a great blessing on the other side if I continue to press into God’s word and trust that He’s pruning me where I need it. Like trees, we have to get rid of the negative, dead stuff in order for the blossoms to come around again. It’s like I mentioned in my last post, sometimes discipline is painful but He only does it for our own good. We have to continually grow in our faith, our obedience, if we ever want to receive the full blessings He has for us.
Growth is often painful, physically and spiritually. But if done by God, we can trust that the result will be beautiful!