I love to read about marriage. Blog posts, books, articles... After all, with one failed marriage already in my history, I could use the help, right? I am currently reading Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas, along with his Devotions for a Sacred Marriage. I also just started reading The Love Dare, and the 3 of those together make for some pretty revolutionizing reading. I also read some blogs by godly women about being a wife and a mom, and I have come to agree with Gary Thomas' theory that God did not intend for marriage to make us happy. He intended for marriage to make us holy... To drive us to Himself when all of our efforts to be the perfect wife, the perfect mom, are seemingly in vain, and even that worthy pursuit leaves us empty and longing.
We women devote an enormous amount of time and energy in the pursuit of a happy family life, and of course we should! But I wonder if we are making it harder than it has to be? This question has been turning over in my mind... What if we devoted ourselves to one purpose and one alone, and that one purpose being to conform to Christ, wouldn't the rest just fall into place? Because who can resist Him? If we become like Him, then who could resist us? I've always wanted to be irresistable... but there are some qualities I possess that are unattractive indeed. Like the need to be right. All the time. I mean, really, I have such a hard time admitting when I'm wrong. And since I am wrong quite often, this causes some stress. And the need to "feel appreciated". I tell you, this might be the worst, because it exposes the selfishness behind even the so-called selfless things I do!
I think what God is showing me in all of this reading I'm doing lately is that I do a lot of the right things. but with the wrong motives. I am busy trying to win everyone's approval, busy trying to be the perfect wife (yeah, right! I can hear my husband laughing at this one) and busy trying to be Super-Duper-Mom/Stepmom and you know what? No one ever (well, rarely ever) says thank you. And nobody really even notices half the stuff I do. So what happens? I start feeling resentful, and at times even angry that I am not getting the approval I so desperately want. Life for a recovering approval-addict just gets this way from time to time. We know better. But it is such a familiar way of perceiving things that when life gets busy it can become the default mode if we aren't careful. So last week, when I was just really down in the dumps, God reminded me through all this reading, "Hey Kari, you really only need to be concerned with the approval of One... Follow me, do what I do. Love like I love, and forgive the way I forgive you." Impossibly simple. Impossible because I can't do those things. Simple because He can.
Maybe this isn't revolutionary for you? Maybe you have figured it all out already. If so, please send me the link to your blog so that I can "follow" you! For me, it is always this winding path that keeps coming around to the same old issues and wearing the ruts deep. It takes a few trips around the bend for me to really "get it". This is just a short list of some things I am learning lately... Things that make my world look a little different than before.
1. He understands. No one was more misjudged, misunderstood, or mistreated than Jesus. So He knows how it feels. His motives were questioned, His credibility doubted, and even when He took the time to heal lepers He was left without even a simple "thank you" from all but one. Very few believed the truth about Him, choosing to hold to their preconceived notions about this guy from Nazareth.
2. He loved them anyway. He responded to their doubt, their lies, their abuse, their slander, their insults, with love. With a heart of forgiveness and mercy and tenderness. He didn't retaliate or defend Himself. He knew who He was. Their unbelief did not change a thing about who He was.
3. This was to be an example to me. On a much smaller scale, for sure. But who among us hasn't felt the sting of rejection? The pain of being cast aside? The heartache of being misunderstood? The frustration of being unappreciated... He showed us what to do. Love them anyway.
Three simple truths. A perfect model to pattern my life after... Impossible to live out in my own strength. But as I am learning more and more with each day, what seems impossible to me is just an invitation for God to work and move in my life.