"Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You."
"Marriage is not what I expected". Have you ever thought that? The truth is, not much in life is what we expected. Day 27 of the challenge addresses this matter at the heart level.
What is it that you want married life to be? Do you want to feel secure, free to be yourself even if/when you fail? Your wife wants that, too. The bottom line is that it is a choice to live by encouragement rather than by expectations. Towards your wife you are to be encouraging - pouring into her words and actions which allow her the freedom to be herself, feeling loved. Towards yourself you are to take responsibility for your own words and actions in order to improve yourself, rather than demanding more from your wife, or even of others.
Jesus says it this way in Matthew 7:3-5: "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye', when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye". If you tend to be a "speck inspector", the challenge today will challenge you to first be a "log mover".
Maybe when you were dating, and when you first got married, you thought your wife was "perfect". Your expectations were high that you would "live happily ever after". The fairy tale ended when you discovered that your wife could be thoughtless and selfish. If you have decided to bring that constantly to her attention you probably have noticed that she have resisted your critical "help". Your disapproval has not brought improvement, but resentment.
Love would have us take a different path - one of encouragement, not discouragement. You know that you respond better to kindness than criticism, so it shouldn't be a surprise that your wife is motivated in the same way. If your wife has told you on more than one occasion that you make her feel beat down and defeated, you need to take these words to heart. Make a commitment to daily let go of unrealistic expectations and become your wife's greatest encourager. And the person she created by God to be will begin to emerge with new confidence and love for you.
It's time to eliminate unreasonable expectations in your relationship with your wife. Identify one area where your wife has said that you're expecting too much from her - and apologize for pressuring her in that area. Then assure her of your understanding and unconditional love.
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. (Isaiah 35:3)
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing ... We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:11,14)
"There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted."
The few pieces of bread and fish from today's passage seemed scarcely enough to make a difference. But as we read, of Jesus miracle of feeding the multitudes, we can stand in faith for God's miraculous intervention in our lives. The test is believing in a miracle that will exists and becomes a measure of where our heart truly is. In other words; you believe - or you do not believe.
Prayer: Father, give me a heart that is undivided. Reveal anything in my life that is more important to me than You, whether it be people, status, or money. Lord, I want to serve only You. Let me strive diligently to put You first in every endeavor. Lead me into Your dream for me. Help me along this journey of faithfulness and absolute surrender. Help me to believe in Your Miracle. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: John 13:1-17 ... Although Jesus was about to face His own death, He reached out and served others. Place your wife in your path today so that you can humbly serve her today.