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marriage

finding my joy in the joy of my husband

in him

heartnatured.com

It was middle of the work day.

I was hit with a big thought, “J shared something with me he was working through the other day, and I haven’t asked him about it.”

I confess, I was saddened by my selfishness. I felt guilty, and a little heartbroken at my lack of attention to what’s going on in my husband’s heart.

I surrendered it to Holy Spirit because it was a weight I needed help working through. My own self-absorption. I may not be malicious self-centered, but focusing on what’s going on in my life only when I am one with this sweet, strong, but also human man of God.

I am his partner, his helper, his wife. I pray for him daily, but only occasionally do I ask how I can specifically pray for him on a particular day.

It hit me then: just because we’re married now, and we see each other daily and know the big things happening in our lives, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask the common questions of curiosity.

He’s my person. He is the man that God created to be my husband, the man I get to watch continue to grow in Christlikeness and husband-dom, and eventually fatherhood. He is only mine! He is my #1.

I know and believe and love all of these things with my entire being, but my daily choices haven’t truly been reflecting that.

God made me his wife, to support and love and pray for and be present with. This is a beautiful and powerful and important role; I never want to take it for granted or not value it as I should.

So I’ve been thinking… how can I better love my person? The one I am called to love as best as I possibly can?

Spiritually

I can ask more regularly what J is learning about God, lessons from studying the Bible, concerns and joys happening in his heart. I can be a true, real accountability for him by lovingly prodding when I see him choosing self over Christ, or prioritizing worldly pleasures over godly ones. We’re a team, and this life can be difficult. I can get down in the trenches with him and fight apathy and sin and lukewarmness.

Physically

I think of intimacy, but also efforts around our home. I can love him well, by prioritize him over myself. I can do my best to make him laugh, to bring joy to our home by playing our favorite games or watching a great movie. J doesn’t like doing laundry, so I can continue to do majority of the laundry, happily, knowing I am loving him in a particularly important way. I can help keep our home a pleasant, clean, and comfortable place (which happens to make me happy also), so he exhale at the end of a long workday.

Emotionally

I can flirt with him, leave him notes that tell of how much I care for him, make him feel special. I can join him in activities I know he loves. I can remind him how I am on his side always, and cheer him on when he is discouraged. I can share my feelings more honestly, giving him the chance to learn something new about me. I can give him my undivided attention when he is talking, instead of multitasking.

I both love and am continually convicted by this passage from John Piper,

Husbands and wives, recognize that in marriage you have become one flesh. If you live for your private pleasure at the expense of your spouse, you are living against yourself and destroying your joy. But if you devote yourself with all your heart to the holy joy of your spouse, you will also be living for your joy and making a marriage after the image of Christ and His church.

Even once you’re married (I’m generalizing here), it can be easy to still think you’re on an island by yourself. You do things that make you particularly happy, you make choices to benefit you, you meditate about how you’re doing — not at all bad things! But as I learned our first month being married, and so often since then, that my happiness is hinged to J’s happiness. We are one.

On my own, in Christ, I have a capacity for joy and love and abundant life. And it’s a great capacity, because God is great.

But, J and I together? Our potential joy and love and abundant life together blows my alone possibility out of the water by a long shot. It makes my life much richer with J by my side, sacrificially and unconditionally loving him, putting him before myself.

In God is where we are both completely satisfied. In Christ we have all the love we could ever desire or need or dream of. This enables us to not require perfection from each other; it gives us the confidence and ability to work with God to make each other more like Jesus.

Lord, help me seek my joy in the joy of my husband. 

 


 

“I no longer believe love works like a fairy tale but like farming. Most of it is just getting up early and tilling the soil and then praying for rain. But if we do the work, we might just wake up one day to find an endless field of crops rolling into the horizon. In my opinion, that’s even better than a miracle.” Don Miller

Your Body Matters

in wellness

heartnatured.comRemember my thought spill from a couple of weeks ago? If not, feel free to read it here. Let’s also go ahead and be upfront about the fact that I overthink things. But God is good.

Even though that post ends with a more positive, seemingly triumphant mantra, not much changed. But, God in His goodness, is making things new.

One day, recently, I tearfully confessed to J a realization:

I believed being fit was a necessary standard to meet if I wanted to please God — being the right amount of pounds for my height, being able to run or bike many miles, the discipline to dedicate 30+ minutes a day to exercise (because this is what culture deems good enough).

Wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, exercise is a great way to deepen enjoyment of life and to take care of our bodies, but it’s not a prerequisite for love, from God or people.

And I don’t even think it pleases God if you’re miserable with yourself, working for the glory of you or using exercise to avoid something difficult or uncomfortable. There is not right or wrong size of a person, but there is a point that for you is unhealthy and unhelpful to your life.

Being fit, or the number on the scale as a result of exercise, doesn’t equate godliness (1 Timothy 4:8). If it did, what would that mean for those who can’t exercise, for those bound to a sick or aging body? That doesn’t make sense.

I don’t think exercise is a prerequisite for a full life in Christ — it’s more a bonus of this temporary home. 

 


 

Shauna Niequist, in her latest book Present Over Perfect, makes this declaration:

This is the promise I make to my God: I will never again be so careless, so cavalier with the body and soul you’ve given me. They are the only things in all the world that have been entrusted entirely to me, and I stewarded them poorly, worshiping for a time at the altars of productivity, capability, busyness, distraction. This body and soul will become again what God intended them to be: living sacrifices, offered only to him. I will spend my life on meaning, on connection, on love, on freedom. I will not waste one more day trapped in comparison, competition, proving, and earning. That’s the currency of a culture that has nothing to offer me.

Talking about Romans 12:1-2, John Piper says, “You belong to God soul and body, or you don’t belong to him at all. Your body matters.” To me, this screams freedom.

God cares about my body, He created it uniquely to house my heart, soul, and mind, and to make His beauty visible. To make His love tangible for people. He doesn’t shine through my muscles, curves, or how much space I take up, but through the way I act.

John Piper challenges me again,

“Let every act of your living body be a demonstration that God is your treasure. Let every act of your living body show that Christ is more precious to you than anything else. Let every act of your living body be a death to all that dishonors Christ.”

This releases fitness and body image from being an arena to compare or compete or prove, to a place of fun and freedom, a living and active sacrifice!

 


 

After this beautiful realization, I asked God, now that I have a better perspective on exercise, why should I spend the time sweating and challenging myself in this way?

This was the answer: For my husband, for our home, for our future. 

  • For my husband, because while I believe he will always think of me as beautiful, it doesn’t hurt for me to offer a little help. So I’ll take care of myself with activities I enjoy and beneficial foods, to help continually enjoy each other.
  • For our home, to energetically clean our home, keep up with the dishes and laundry, keep our herbs and plants from dying. To happily make it a hospitable and safe place to host loved ones, to use it as a resource to be generous. In my experience, strength and energy help in these areas.
  • For our future, taking care of my body because it will eventually be a home for a tiny human one day. I want to give them their best chance also, and it’s up to me because they will be growing inside of my body. The body I can choose to not care about, to treat poorly, or the body I can strengthen and enjoy.

All of that to say, if you’ve come at a crossroads with your body, or your exercise, or if you want to pick up activity for the first time, ask God to give you your own personal reasons and joy in it. Yours will look different than mine, and mine will look different than someone else’s.

It’s good, and I hope God continues to get the glory from our bodies.

two years married.

in him

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“It has made me better loving you… it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I did not have them. Theoretically, I was satisfied. I flattered myself that I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid sterile hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better. It’s just as when one has been trying to spell out a book in the twilight, and suddenly the lamp comes in. I had been putting out my eyes over the book of life, and finding nothing to reward me for my pains; but now that I can read it properly I see that it’s a delightful story.” Henry James

Thankful for the beauty of days past, excited for the adventure of future days.

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