Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Practicing

OK, so my 2nd verse for the rest of this month is from 1 Peter. It says:

Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing.

Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here's what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you're worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what he's asked;
But he turns his back
on those who do evil things.

This version is from The Message, and there are parts of it that really spoke to me ... which is why I chose that version. Let's start at the beginning ...

Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions.

What a challenging list of things to be ... and a clarification about who is to be like this ... All of us ... NO EXCEPTIONS ... The writer is making it clear that God's stand on this is clear and firm ... there are no exceptions ... we are all being measured by this list of behaviors. As a teacher, who is in the process of filling out report cards, I found myself imagining God doing the same on me as I was filling out the "behavior" section of the reports. I am sure you have all seen the section that I am talking about ... within it is a list of behaviors that are expected in school from all .. NO exceptions ... followed by E S or N. (Excellent, Satisfactory, and Needs to Improve) I could just imagine God, report cards in hand, going through this list of acceptable and expected behaviors for life for me ...

"
No retaliation." Well, I am afraid that I'll need to mark this N. She sometimes fails to bring the wrong doings to my feet and let me handle them, trying to handle them herself instead ..."

"No sharp-tongued sarcasm."
Circle "N" again. Boy, that girl has a tongue on her. She has gotten better at holding it, but it is the thought that counts and I hear them all.

"Blessing instead..."
Circle "N" again.

"Saying nothing evil or hurtful..." "N"

"Snubbing evil and cultivate good;" "N"

"Running after peace for all she is worth."
"N"

Oh Lord, how I need to improve! Father, search me and guide me in improving my outward (and inward) behavior as a Christian that I might really be a light. Search me and know me ... help me to know myself and the areas that I can grow in that I might represent you more fully in every thing I do and say.

Lisa

PS:

I have more thoughts about the verse and some the implications that jump out at me ... but it is late and I am tired. I will post a part 2 when I have studied this a bit more, and have finished my report cards ... :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Building

A few days ago I started The Love Dare, not because my husband and I had seen "Fireproof" (which neither of us have) and decided together to do the Love Dare together (which we have not) ... but rather because God had prompted my heart to do it. I am doing it on my own, for me. Now I will admit that at first I wondered if he would notice that I was doing these little things ... and if it would inspire him to do the same in return ... But God was quick to reaffirm that His purpose for me in doing this was not for my husband, but rather for me ... To change and grow me. To make me notice the things that I do and do not do. To help me to see both my strengths and my weaknesses as a wife. To challenge me to share my love with my husband more freely and consistently. To challenge me to give without expecting anything in return.

My verse for this week is one that I am sure will be one that God uses throughout this journey and is:

"Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands."
Proverbs 14:1 (Amp)

I would like to share my initial thoughts about the verse.

How do we, being women of God, do this? Well, I think that one of the most powerful ways we either "build our houses" or "tear them down" is by what we do with our words. I did not come up with this on my own, it is something that God has been revealing to me during the first few days of The Love Dare. Before I go any further, I would like to share the challenge of day one with you. It states:

The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It's better to hold your tongue than to say something you'll regret.

Now I will openly admit that my first thought was not ... "No problem! This will be easy!" In fact, it was more like, "Nothing negative?" and "What exactly constitutes negative?" Is "There are still crumbs on the counter." negative? What about, "Did you hear the phone ringing? I called three times." Then I read the devotional for day one.

"No one likes to be around an impatient person. It causes you to overreact in angry, foolish, and regrettable ways. The irony of anger toward a wrongful action is that it spawns new wrongs of its own. Anger almost never makes things better. In fact, it usually generates additional problems. But patience stops problems in their tracks. More than biting your lip, more than clapping a hand over your mouth, patience is a deep breath. It clears the air. It stops foolishness from whipping its scorpion tail all over the room. It is a choice to control your emotions rather than allowing your emotions to control you, and shows discretion instead of returning evil for evil." (The Love Dare, Pg. 1 - 2)

In that, God revealed to me the answer to my question above. It all depends on the state of my heart. When I say "There are still crumbs on the counter." am I stating a fact or am I really saying "You did a lousy job of cleaning up your mess." What is it that my husband hears? I venture to say the later. When I say "Did you hear the phone ringing? I called three times." am I really wanting to know if he heard the phone, or am I wanting to make sure he knows he has fallen short of my expectations? The answer? ... It all depends upon my heart at the time. I have to stop and ask myself if my words were the the result of impatience or irritation or is they were spoken out of love.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that I feel or the book says that we are never to talk with our husbands about things that are bothersome, but I am saying that perhaps we need to make sure that we go about it in a way that builds up instead of tears down. I am saying that perhaps we need to evaluate the things that irritate us, take them to God's feet, and ask His direction. I am saying that perhaps an open communication that honestly addresses something that is bothersome, is more apt to build a marital relationship than negative comments that are aimed, even subconciously, to jab. I am also saying that we all need to ask God to really search our hearts when it comes to our husbands and to reveal feelings that might spur us to speak in ways that tear down. We also need to really take a serious look at the little things that seem to mean so much ... like crumbs on a counter or dirty socks that are left in balls on the floor ... and ask ourselves if words are necessary or if we can simply wipe up the crumbs and un-ball the socks with a spirit of love ... and if words are necessary, if they can be spoken in love and not irritation. Practicing this in the little things, will certainly prepare us for those times when tempers flair and words could easily fly!

May the words in our marriages be spoken in love,

Lisa

Father,
How many times are those that I use my words as costumed ways of saying "I am irritated with you" or "you have fallen short of my expectaions." Jesus, please help me, and anyone reading this, to practice patience and resist anger. Pour out your Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us all and show us how to love our spouses as you would love them through us. Grant us the strength to actively choose to love and respect our spouses so that You will be glorified within and through our marriages. I thank you in advance for your faithfulness. Amen.