Love Vs. Lust – Love Dare Day 24

The path or the progression of lust: Eyes to heart to action to shame to regret.  (p. 116, The Love Dare)

That’s a horrible path to be on. Whether it’s lust for stuff: See iPad. Covet iPad. Put iPad on credit card. See credit card statement (shame/remorse). Try to pay down credit card (regret). Or if it’s the typical lust issues that we think of when the sin of lust is brought up.

The problems with lust:

  1. It fails to realize that God has and will provide ALL we need for a full, productive, joyful life (This does NOT mean easy in the North American sense of ‘joyful’. It simply means we have what we need).
  2. It is selfish: If I am yearning for power, possessions, or other satisfaction that is outside of God’s current provision, I’m neglecting to be present to the people and things he has provided.
  3. It is opposite of love (p. 117): Love gives. Lust takes. Love serves. Lust steps over people.
  4. It has a voracious appetite: It’s similar to eating. If we eat a huge breakfast, we might be really full for a while, but we’ll want a huge lunch because our bellies’ are nice and stretched out and ready for another ridiculous meal. Lust creates greater lust. It’s like addiction. It takes more to satisfy it over time.
  5. It is a sieve: The things we lust for, even if achieved, never satisfy. They fall through our hands and hearts like a sieve. Only lust makes things that are empty even more empty. It defies physics.

So… the summary, from The Love Dare: “Lust is… a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill. Lust is like a warning light on the dashboard of your heart.”

My challenge is–and has been–to ferret out every object of lust that distracts me from finding my satisfaction solely in God. Yes, I am and have been keeping myself accountable and putting guardrails in my world around sexual lust.

That is always and will always be an important thing for me (and, honestly, any man) to do.

But I’m also challenged to identify anything that I look to over-against God and the people and things he’s already provided me for my life. You, our children, the things and tasks we have, and so forth are blessings and gifts. God has given you to me as sources of love, joy, sharpening, and responsibility (he changes me by teaching me how to be a good steward and caregiver of the people and things he’s entrusted me with).

The baseline is this: Am I seeking something that can’t satisfy or am I finding my source in God and His good gifts?

My pledge to you is to remain on this path. Even you aren’t my satisfaction. God is and you are insomuch as you come from God and are a gift from Him. You are His daughter and I should treat you as such.

I love you and hope that by the time you read this, we will be much better at finding our source in Jesus.

Because We’re Tackling Our Debt

While we decided it might not be a good idea to follow the advice to get rid of our (very reasonably priced and relatively low mortgaged) home, we have finally decided to be violent with our debt.  Seemed like good advice from the guy who gave it to me, but a home is sometimes more important than the money it represents.

I’ve just accessed the money to pay off at least two credit cards. They inch up so slowly. We don’ t go out to eat. We don’t buy tons of fancy stuff. We’re not early adopters. We simply have had a few moments of weakness.

I’m sorry that you were so frugal and I brought my love of stuff into our marriage! And I hate we weren’t more disciplined to take note of our spending and be aware of our issues around that.

But we’re done. Line in the sand. Stake in the ground.

You and me vs. plastic. We’re gonna get it done. I’m excited.  Let’s do this thing.

Love Always Protects – Love Dare Day 23

I wrote about Love Dare Day 23 over a year ago.

I won’t regurgitate the info there.

The devotional points out 4 enemies of marriage:

  1. Harmful Influences (TV, Internet, habits, content contrary to our values, etc.)
  2. Unhealthy Relationships (Not only emotional and physical affairs, but dangerous friendships, boundary-less family relationships, colleagues, etc.)
  3. Shame: (Speaking negatively and disrespecting our spouse in public – or always being critical or allowing self-loathing to influence our marriage)
  4. Parasites (Similar to ‘Harmful Influences’, this is anything that sucks the life out of us – addictions, hobbies, worry, strife, etc.)

What am I doing to protect our marriage?

I started turning off work email when I come home so I don’t obsess about things I can’t do anything about. We’ve both started turning off our phones during some points in the evening so we’re not continually distracted.

I’ve included ‘5 minutes within 5 feet’ as a daily habit: I try to make sure I get near you and focus on catching up and decompressing, even if for only 5 minutes – uninterrupted.

I’m working on continuing in my accountability groups and in my prayer and study times. It’s important, though, that I’m more on the lookout. I need to have the shield and sword at the ready to ward off anything that might slowly chip away at our foundation. That’s typically a bigger issue: little vermin that sneaks in, almost imperceptibly. We get lazy. We think we are in control.

But we never are. We have to depend on the strength and power of God to protect us (of course, we partner with Him, that’s why I will keep the shield and sword handy.

I love you and want us to look back at our lives and remember how we were protected and how we were able to cultivate growth and because we were safely protected.

Mission Accomplished

As I mentioned yesterday, I was going to express my love for you by giving toilet installation a second chance.

I have so many puns I’d like to use right now like, “It was my duty, to make sure we could go doody.”

But I won’t.

Suffice it to say that I got it done. We now have another toilet available.

Mission Accomplished

Because I’m Going to Try to Install the Toilet Again

If my words aren’t a worthy demonstration of my love. If my words fall on deaf ears. If my words do not suffice and aren’t in your ‘love language’ of acts of service, than let my sad efforts to install a new toilet ring out from the mountaintops….

I LOVE YOU!!!!!

Yes, the fact that I’m going to go back into the ring or the octagon or whatever ultimate fighting/MMA/WWE/Championship Boxing venue you prefer should be proof and evidence of my affection.

The toilet took the first round by way of water leaking slowly out the back (after seeming perfectly installed).  After all the bolt tightening and lifting and wax ring placing and paying the plumber to install the new flange (and two trips to Home Depot last night – and a bunch more on other occasions), leakage.

I said a cuss word or two under my breath, but then I asked the question I’ve been asking myself a lot: Would I want my kids to handle frustration the way I’m handling it now?  Probably not. So… I slept on it.

For you, tonight, honey, I will do this thing again. I pray it works so we don’t have to sell plasma to hire a plumber to do it for us (roughly $150 from what I know).

Me vs. Toilet

If anybody who reads this besides my wife sees anything horribly wrong about the set up on the floor, let me know. Those are my toes, by the way.

Love is Faithful – Love Dare Day 22

Today’s dare is this (previously written about here):

Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it. Say to them today in words similar to these, “I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don’t love me in return.”

It’s funny. The anchor image in today’s Love Dare is the story of Hosea and Gomer. Hosea, the prophet, is called by God to love Gomer, the prostitute. He calls Hosea to take Gomer back – even buying her back – as a picture of God’s love toward His people.

The implication in Day 22 is that the faithful love is not a chastisement to not cheat, but rather a call to love the other person even if the other person, in the world’s terms, is unworthy of the love or if the other person is not interested in receiving love.

Where does this fit into our story?

I heard Andy Stanley say once (or a few times because it’s one of his favorite themes) that he doesn’t want to simply be committed to a marriage. In other words, he doesn’t want to grit teeth and push on through to keep a marriage in place, regardless of how fun, life-giving, and joy-producing the marriage is.

I don’t either. I don’t want to, in the words of the goofy fat rat in Ratatouille, ‘push through the gag reflex’ and make it work.

Now, this does not describe our marriage. BUT, there are moments when love is a choice. When my commitment to you goes beyond how I feel at the moment. And I’m really darn sure that I don’t get the same benefit from you. There are moments and times when I know that for whatever reason you do not feel tons of affection for me.

But that’s okay. And while I agree in principle with this dare – that it’s a choice, not a feeling, I don’t agree with the typical conclusion based on this choice vs. feeling dichotomy. I don’t agree that, “I choose to do it even if you’re a pain in my butt!”

I agree that I choose to love you and pour out (get better at pouring out) my creativity, energy, passion, ideas, generosity, etc. toward you. Not just our marriage.

There are times when I plain suck at it, but Tina you are the person God gave me to love. My desire is still that we become a city on a hill to other families and couples. That we will be a refreshing source of hope to others. And that you–you–you will know and experience the best love I can give you.