Now, I wanted to this to be my last blog in this series because it’s taken FOREVER to finish writing lately. We’ve been battling the plague (Kindergarten school germs) and it has hit everyone multiple times in the past 6 weeks. I’ve made over 3 pots of soup, spent way too much on various medicines, gone to the doctor, etc. Kid’s germs are debilitating when you haven’t been exposed to them in forever! So in an effort to finish this up, I’m posting half of what I’ve written so far, and I will finish the rest shortly.
I want to highlight the last thing my husband and I have had to learn over the past year and how this lesson has permeated virtually every area of our lives. In a nutshell, the lesson is this: pursue understanding.
The book of Proverbs is one of my favorite books of the Bible, and it contains the constant admonition to pursue wisdom and understanding. Now, this wisdom and understanding does have an obvious foundation in the fear of the Lord, but as you walk through Proverbs (I’ve been doing this using Bruce Waltke’s commentary), you quickly realize that pursuing and growing in wisdom and understanding is needed for all areas of your life. And I read it best years ago from the ESV Study Bible that wisdom is the skill of living a godly life. Consequently, it behooves you not to be arrogant or stubborn in recognizing your need to be humble and teachable as you learn to navigate the course of life that the Lord has set in front of you with all of its ordained providences in a way that brings glory to Him. So under this guiding lesson, I want to highlight a few areas where we have learned to pursue understanding.
#1: Stop assuming you know yourself perfectly
I cannot count how many times my husband and I have called each other out on our own inconsistencies only to hear the words, “You know what? I am being inconsistent.” The truth is that we change. We change when we don’t realize we’re changing. And besides the fact that we change, we can’t trust our own estimation of ourselves either. The Bible tells us that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked and that no one can really understand it (Jeremiah 17:9). The truth is, we lie to ourselves, and we often deceive ourselves in how we view our sinfulness, abilities, growth and maturity, sacrifices, and a whole host of other things. It’s very easy for us to have a false impression of ourselves. Consequently, we have to be dependent on the Lord and trust the Word of God to diagnose our problems accurately in all occasions.
Now, this has a very obvious implication in marriage, but it also has an impact in our church relationships too. How many times have you heard people say not to judge them? I think that statement comes up because our brothers and sisters in the faith can often shed some light on us that we don’t care for. Sometimes they can see things about us and in trying to lovingly tell us, we get upset (how dare you?) and dismiss what they say claiming that they are the sinful ones in being so proud, unloving, etc. And even if we don’t get that upset, we get offended. Why? Well, we’re offended because we think that we know ourselves better than they do and that unless they are our “real” friends, they really don’t have the right to say anything to us at all because they don’t know us!
Well, from my own marriage, I have realized that we don’t have to walk a mile in each other’s shoes to be able to know something about someone else. My husband doesn’t have to be at home all day with the kids, trying to get housework done, run errands, and cook dinner day in and day out for him to tell me that I need to work on patience and exercise more self-control. Likewise, I don’t need to be college professor, an intellectual, and work 60+ hours a week for me to tell my husband that he’s being prideful and needs to remember his priorities. Whether it’s in marriage or the church, you oftentimes don’t need to know or personally live the whole story to see a particular aspect about someone clearly….maybe more clearly than they see it themselves. So, we have learned to be humble and not assume that we have the right and complete view of ourselves. In addition, we have also learned to humbly hear and be discerning of those things that we do hear from each other (including our church family), knowing that the Lord can use anyone to give us some light on ourselves and begin a work in our hearts.
#2: Resist tunnel vision
What if you moved through your life like the main character in a video game? What if you were completely focused on getting to the end of the level so that you can move to a new level and eventually finish your life with a triumphant win because you made it through all the obstacles and challenges without dying? And what if that is how you really and truly functioned in this life?
My husband told me this summer that over the past year he realized that he lives his life like that naturally and that he really has to resist the temptation and be mindful not to function like that. Now, in my mind, that made a lot of sense and explained why he was rarely thoughtful and proactive about things. He was just focused on himself so much that he would forget to “look up” and see what was going on with me or our children. But, as I thought about this more and more, I realized that I was also guilty of this “tunnel vision”. The cornucopia of mommy blogs, women’s blogs, and social media all mixed together with my natural sinful self has had me very focused on myself, what I’m doing, all that I’m sacrificing, how much I’m trying to be devoted to the Lord, how much I’m dying to myself as a mom, and so on for a long time. My husband is not the only guilty party when it comes to this problem, and knowing this, we are really striving to seek each other’s interest and good before our own.
My prayer is that as we strive to put each other before ourselves, it will become easier to do and that it will be more obvious to us when we are being self-centered and self-focused. I also pray that we continue to be mindful of how damaging having tunnel vision is when you are in a covenant relationship with someone…when God has brought you into relationship with another who is meant to walk with you in this life, just like He has united us together in the church. We weren’t meant to walk alone, and we’re not supposed to be focused solely on ourselves. Simply put, we have great need of one another, and thankfully, the Lord has seen fit to meet our needs, whether we recognize the need or not.