From the time I awoke that morning, I knew my focus was off. The ‘Liar’s Committee’ in my head was reminding me of past hurts, little perceived snubs, the mundane routine, fewer dates, that particular warmth that was missing, and it overwhelmed anything good that was out there. I had doubts about my salvation (how could I really feel these things if I loved Jesus?), doubts about my marriage relationship, doubts about my parenting, missing my mother…doubts, doubts, doubts.
The last 2 years had been by far the most difficult we had ever experienced. In the demands of busy, my husband constantly driving hours to care for Papa, difficult extended-family tensions, illness, the constant work, the undone work, the lack of quality-time, I began to pay more attention to what wasn’t happening right with my husband rather than what was happening right.
“If I’m ruthlessly honest, I may have said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really, I have lived the no. Infected with that Eden mouthful, the retina of my soul develops macular holes of blackness.” ~Ann Voskamp
More of my husband’s time was spent with others than with me. Usually out of necessity. We had less time to process what was happening and just talk. Problems backed up.
I heard the wrong tone behind words and resided in the hurt. Triggers from my youth.
Not enough time together alone to deal with unforgiveness that had built up or for prayer. Silence in the bedroom.
You see, I’m prone to this melancholy, negative way when things get hard, and I could feel myself lock my heart away and let bitter roots pull me down. It was also clear that the current path wasn’t working. I needed to let it go – yet I found it selfishly satisfying to let each negative thought whoosh me higher and higher into martyrdom or self-righteousness.
I knew I had allowed myself to slip into a deep chasm, and I wanted out, but where to begin. I needed a catalyst like a chemist. I want to live my one life well, fully alive to the deep goodness of God and of life!
Then the thought came to me repeatedly over several weeks: If Satan attacks the children of God, and I believe he does, it is to steal, kill, and destroy what is ours, to blind us to lies, and make us lose our hope. The thought jarred my consciousness – I don’t want to let the evil one win! A strong woman will fight the enemy; I don’t just want to fold up and let him devour me and us. I must take my eyes off myself and circumstances and put them on Christ and the gift of the husband He has given me!
What does it mean to live full of grace?
“The will of God is not something you add to your life. It’s a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God…or you capitulate to the principle which governs the rest of the world.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot
I was in the Word of God most days, but I wasn’t taking the action of doing what is says!
“Finally, …sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” ~Philippians 4: 8
“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives…” ~1 Peter 3: 1
A New Adventure – The Best Gift
I had journaled things before, why not look for and focus upon the good things I knew were in my husband, the beautiful things – like a treasure hunt, knowing that if you look with eyes to see, you will find them. Away with the lies! Seek and you will find!
So as Ann Voskamp of 1000 Gifts calls it, I began a ‘gratitude journal’ for my husband, and I am daring to live fully right where I am. It will be his anniversary present
next this year. I entitled it ‘Eyes To See’. It is the best gift I can think of.
For the whole year ahead, I have set my mind to actively look for and jot down the good, the better, and the best of his life – day by day – and it can’t help but impact our lives – a trickle down effect, even to our children. There is something about writing it on paper.
Here are several entries:
December 14, 2014: I see a man who works hard to care for his family, the overwhelming needs of his father, our friends and neighbors…he worked outside in the cold – without complaining – to get ready for winter. We thought Papa was dying when the weather was warmer.
December 28, 2014: Our 41st anniversary was not forgotten in the busyness of this season! He made us reservations at the Istanbul Cafe for a delicious dinner of ground lamb in cabbage leaves filled with savory spices and a side of grilled to perfection veggies. He knows what I love.
January 4, 2015: Called to pick up groceries for me and let me know he was on his way back From Papa’s.
Finding what I wanted to write down for each day has become a kind of game for me. I am better able to look at my husband in a new way, to have compassion on him in this difficult time, and let the playful girl in me come out…I mustn’t lock my heart away. This is really a treasure hunt with my husband containing the hidden treasure. What man wouldn’t cherish and be lit up by a woman who looks at him like she used to when they were first married, despite his flaws, despite circumstances in our lives?
Take Up the Challenge with Me
I invite you to join me in making a ‘gratitude journal’ for your husband’s 2015 Christmas or anniversary gift (and your shopping is done!) starting just as soon as you can – today preferably (write it down and transfer it later). There is no time like the present to start giving the best gift(s). Thankfulness. Respect. Joy. Don’t let the ‘Liar’s Committee’ cheat you out of abundant life!
Look at the color of his eyes, notice the strength in his arms, stroke the warmth of his cheeks as he wakes up in the morning all sleepy. Look for something he does well, then jot it down. Begin creating his BEST GIFT. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, but remember he will read it one day. Keep your journal close by, pray, and watch expectantly for something good even if your marriage is seriously in trouble. Coax out the protector in your husband using all the God-given feminine gifts you possess.
That man’s tone of voice may soften, the time of his lingering with you may increase. Little things might not matter so much even though the world feels so cruel.
It is the Best Gift I can give my husband, and I can’t wait to see my husband open the box in one year, God-willing. It will be a good year, and it will be recorded in my little book!
Will you join me in the treasure hunt? Will you give the best gift? I hope and pray you will. You can start this anytime of the year or do it for even 3 weeks! That is up to you.
Please let me know in the comments if you’re going to do this! I’ll be praying for us all 🙂
Just some of the books that have been a help in keeping my head screwed on somewhat straight (transforming my mind) through the years so I can give the best gift.
- The MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV: Revised & Updated Edition, Hardcover
- A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken
- The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom
- One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, by Ann Voskamp
- Lord, Change My Attitude: Before It’s Too Late, by James MacDonald
- Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II, by Darlene Deibler Rose
- Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, by David Platt
- Don’t Waste Your Life, by John Piper
- The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, by Matthew Henry
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” ~Matthew 7: 12
Thanks for reading!