I’ve been watching a series online called Meant to Be. The basis of meant to be is that “when it comes to seeking advice about relationships, marriage, and sex, we tend to look in all the wrong places. Everywhere we turn, we’re promised pleasure and happiness, but we’re left feeling hurt and empty. The world claims to have the answers, but maybe we’ve been asking the wrong questions all along.”
I listened to Part Four this morning and I am convinced that God has put this information before me because he knows I struggle with harvest time. He knows I needed a reminder and encouragement during this stressful time in our lives.
Farm life is tough. Being married in and of itself can be a challenge. Being married to a farmer can put a whole new strain on a relationship. But marriage can be one of the most beautiful and blessed things in our entire lives. Often times in a farming operation, wives work next to husbands, side by side. For as many hours it takes to finish planting or harvest or even day to day activities, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a farm wife who hasn’t had her fair share of struggles during her marriage and lifetime in a farming operation. With harvest here in North Dakota looming, it is easy to get caught up in the stress. As humans, when we are stressed, we can become short tempered, selfish, and sometimes downright miserable people to be around. Stress can cause tensions in a marriage, granted, it may be only for a season.
What if there was some things we could do to lessen the tension? What can we do in our lives to make our marriages flourish especially in the stressful times in life?
First, let’s talk about marriage. God has placed me in our marriage. God brought me my husband. He has called me to be the best wife I can to my husband. Marriage is exactly that, a calling. 1 Corinthians 7:17 tells us “ Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” He has assigned me to my husband, he has called me to be a wife. What God hasn’t called me to do is to change my situation or try to change my husband. God hasn’t called me to focus on my husband and all the faults I may see in him. He has called me to change myself, to yield myself, and look to God to become the best wife I can be.
Viewing marriage as a calling looks at marriage through a whole new lens. Our world and society teaches us that it is all about us. It’s all about me and how I feel and how other people treat me. Versus how I treat other people and how my actions make other people in my life feel. Think about marriage in the same way, we get nowhere by continually keeping ledger or keeping score in our marriages. When we view marriage as a calling, we view it as sticking together through those days that aren’t so easy.
So what exactly am I called to do in this relationship? Well let’s break down what we are CALLED to do in our marriages according to this awesome series Meant to Be.
I couldn’t help but share this with you. I hope you this speaks to your heart and makes a difference in your marriage as you approach whatever season you may be coming upon or currently in the midst of.
Carry Your Burdens
I am called to carry my husband’s burdens. Now this doesn’t mean that I can help him do something that he can’t do himself. But I can help him lighten his load. In my marriage, my husband is the one which harvest takes the greatest toll on. During that time of the year, his mind and thoughts become completely engrossed in harvest. I can deal with this one of two ways, I can help lighten his burden. I can offer my services, my encouragement, or my help… Or I can add to his burden by demanding that he pay more attention to me or that he make time for me during this stressful time. Galatians 6:2-5 tells us “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”
Assume the Best
I think this is an especially great one for women. WHY do we automatically always assume the worst? Harvest is in full swing. It’s those times when you (and your kids) see your husband maybe for 10 minutes all day every day for days on end. Having a husband and father that is around and then suddenly it’s like you are a single mom or lady bachelor is a shock to a woman’s system. It is so easy for us to immediately fall into the trap of these types of thoughts… “He doesn’t care about our marriage or our family because he’s gone all the time. Doesn’t he know how hard I have it here when he is gone?” When the reality is just the opposite. My husband loves and cares so much that he is gone and works hard to fulfill his calling for our marriage.
Proverbs 19:11 tells us “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Looking at our marriages through the constant lens of assuming the best has the potential to forever change these situations and eliminate so many little arguements. I know my husband loves me and the last thing he would want to do would be to hurt me in any way, so why do I assume the worst? And if there is something I really can’t live with, it may be possible he has no idea those things annoy me. Wait for the right moment. Talk about it. Discuss it now before it becomes a bigger problem later.
Live with Contentment
In this world of that revolves around Pinterest and edited to perfection images on Instagram, we are called to live with contentment. In our day to day lives that means getting rid of comparison, comparison kills contentment. In our faith that means enjoying where you are, not focusing on where God is taking you. My friend Adrianne wrote a beautiful post about being called to live with contentment.
In the sermon, Pastor Steven’s wife Holly talks about as women, we are the thermostat of our homes. Whether we like it or not or it is fair or not, I am sure you’ve seen it play out… When mom is in a bad mood, everyone is affected. We may not be able to change the actions of our spouse or our household, but we can change the tone. We can change our feelings, our mood, and our actions. Philippians 4:8 tells us “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” When you are having a moment or a bad day, hit reset. Be called to that contentment in your life. You may be healthy, have a beautiful marriage, and beautiful kids. Reset your focus on these things, not the little things that are nagging away at you, the stress, or the season you may be in right this moment.
When it comes to our counterpart, our husbands. Men live by performance. In their minds, it’s all about performance. Often times men feel like they are failing at everything if they are failing at anything. As women, we have the power to encourage our husbands in their contentment. To boost their performance. We have the power to point out the good things they’ve provided for us in our marriage or our lives. But the power of this isn’t when things are going well and it is easy, the true power behind this is when it is difficult. One of the bible’s most quoted scriptures is Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If you skip ahead one verse, to verse 12, it says “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” What Paul is saying here is that in ANY situation, he can find places and reasons to be content.
Let God Be God
This one is fairly simple and straight forward… When I am focused on what God is calling ME to do and who God wants ME to be, I can let God be God and work on my husband. Don’t focus on what the other person is doing wrong, quit trying to straighten one another out. Instead, let God be the Father. Let God diffuse the “fight”. Because at the end of the day, God is way better than fixing my husband than I am.
Encourage Your Strengths
Most of the time, in our relationships, we are already well aware of our weaknesses. Many times our weaknesses are some of the roots of our insecurities in life. We don’t need someone else to point those out to us, especially not someone we love. It hurts to have someone you love call you out on things you already know you suck at. The en- in encouragement means to put courage in, not take it out. Sadly, many times when we aren’t getting the encouragement we need in our marriages, we go around looking for it elsewhere. In this culture of social media “likes” and favorites, this becomes a dangerous trap. Many of us are seeking approval in other places besides the very place we need to be giving and receiving it. You don’t need to look around for those things and that approval when you’ve got the right person, the person you love, giving you approval and encouragement. We have the power to change that.
A term Steven & Holly threw out was CEO and it stands for Chief Encouragement Officer. I just love that. Ladies, become the Chief Encouragement Officer in your relationship and see if it doesn’t bless your marriage. This can be done verbally, physically, emotionally. And don’t just make it flattery, build one another up with the truth.
Do It Anyway
As I mentioned above with all of these things, just do it anyway. It’s easy to be and do all these things, to attend to our calling in marriage when things are going good in life.There are times (most of the time in fact) when I don’t feel like saying I am sorry even if I don’t feel like I contributed much to the problem, but I need to do it anyway. There are times when I don’t want to point out the good things because I have a mind full of the bad things, but I am going to point out the good things anyway. The sucess of our relationships hinges on doing these things when it is hard, when our spouses probably don’t deserve it. Just do it anyway.