Love is Responsible – Love Dare Day 26

This one is a doozy.

It’s not about being responsible in the sense of doing chores, making enough money to pay bills, showing up on time, etc.

It’s about taking responsibility. It’s about fessing up. I’ll let the dare speak for itself:

Take time to pray through your areas of wrongdoing. Ask for God’s forgiveness, then humble yourself enough to admit them to your spouse. Do it sincerely and truthfully. Ask your spouse for forgiveness as well. No matter how they respond, make sure you cover your responsibility in love. Even if they respond with criticism, accept it by receiving it as counsel.

I need to do step one: Take time to pray. Right at the moment, I have nothing major to bring to you (which is refreshing).

Of course, there are small things. Attitudes, words said off the cuff, and lazy actions (or lazy inaction) that need to be dealt with. Intentions that aren’t followed through on like leaving work at a certain time.

There are some things in the past that we’ve dealt with (so I think) that perhaps need to be acknowledged again and talked about. I don’t know. That’s why I need to start at prayer.

Regardless, I know that I need to lead here. I”m called to love you like Christ loves the church, but one thing He never had to do was to take responsibility for wrongdoing. Sure he took responsibility for all of our wrongdoing, but He never had to confess His own.

I can’t take a model from Him. But I can practice confession. I can practice anti-excuse-making. I can practice telling the truth and keeping my word and living transparently and serving you. Those things will make being ‘Responsible’ a practice, not a one time event.

I love you and happy almost Independence Day.

Love Forgives – Love Dare Day 25

I don’t think I’ve gotten this far into The Love Dare because it always seems like I stand in need of your forgiveness rather than your standing in the need of my forgiveness.

Today’s Dare:

Whatever you haven’t forgiven in your mate, forgive it today. Let it go. Just as we ask Jesus to “Forgive our debts” each day, we must ask Him to help us “forgive our debtors” each day as well. Unforgiveness has been keeping you and your spouse in prison too long. Say from your heart, “I choose to forgive.”

First of all, I don’t think this is the forum for me to write about what I might be forgiving you for.  That belongs in my heart or a private journal or in a conversation with you.

Second, you have been such a wonderful wife who does not consistently or overtly sin against me. I’m so thankful that you don’t make a practice of nagging, ridiculing, deceiving, or undermining me (whatever all of those mean).

Third, alas, I do forgive you, though. We’re two fallen humans. We sin against each other. Sometimes it’s sins we commit. Sometimes it’s neglecting to do the things we should do for each other.

And I pray that you continue to forgive me for anything that might be stuck somewhere in your heart. You are precious to me and I truly want to be a couple that can be passionate enough to disagree or accidentally say something yet open and graceful enough to forgive.

Our heart has to be for growth and deeper love for each other and God. We can only do that if we keep short accounts. I’ll do my best to forgive when you need it from me and to submit to God more fully so you’ll have fewer reasons to need to forgive me. 🙂

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.

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.

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.

Love is Satisfied in God – Love Dare Day 21

The devotional portion of Day 21 ends with “God is your everyday supply. Of everything you need.”

The dare: “Be intentional today about making a time to pray and read your Bible….”

I’ve been pretty decent at this – at least 3-4 days a week. Typically, 5 days a week are started with focusing on God and asking Him to align my day with His purposes (effectively making it His day, right?).  But reading the Bible and praying isn’t the same as living from a perspective that God will supply every need.

The challenge, then, is to believe and trust that God is enough. You (my sweet wife) don’t have the responsibility to fill up every area in me that is lacking. You aren’t responsible for my self-esteem, self-worth, or self-image. You aren’t responsible for giving me a purposeful life. You aren’t responsible for my happiness.

God uses you in various ways to achieve His purposes in me, but ultimately, my satisfaction and completion is only found in God.

Therefore, I should make sure you’re free from the stress of being my everything and all-in-all. (I believe I’m touching on the whole codependence thing here somehow).

But when this little blog finds its way into your life, I hope you know that you are free. Free from being everything that I think I need. You are my wife and partner and a cherished gift from God. It’s God alone who can make up for everything that I lack (and you too for that matter, so I don’t feel pressure to be YOUR all in all).

I love you and am so thankful for all the wonderful things you add to my life, but I’m also thankful that you don’t have to be everything. That would be way too much pressure. We can both be satisfied in God and enjoy each other as gifts.

Love is Jesus Christ – Love Dare Day 20

This book is an evangelistic tool.

Day 19 was intended to open the idea that loving someone else is nearly impossible (they say impossible) without Jesus Christ.

Day 20 is about making the commitment to become a Christian.

The message, though, of the Gospel, is that we are loved regardless of whether we deserve it or not. Jesus offers this.

I’d like to say to you (Tina – my wife, not you – any reader that might pop on here) is this: You’ve loved me whether I’ve deserved it or not.

You have shown me grace.

Thank you.

Love is Impossible: Love Dare Day 19

The chapter starts by saying there’s a ‘secret’.  The authors explain…

The secret is this: you cannot manufacture unconditional (or agape love) out of your own heart. It’s impossible. It’s beyond our capabilities. It’s beyond all our capabilities.

They go on to say that kindness and unselfishness can be easy to demonstrate, but sincerely loving someone unselfishly and unconditionally is altogether different.

It’s so prevalent for people to say “I’ve fallen out of love” with my husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend. I get it. The feelings are no longer there. But I would venture to say that most of us don’t feel love nonstop.

This dare is basically to dare us to make a decision about Jesus. We cannot love without the Author of true love living in our hearts.

I would say that even Christians fail to really let God love through us. Many times my attitude is more about what I get out of being married or having you as my wife than it is about allowing God’s call for me to love you as Christ loves the church to guide my heart, mind, and actions.

So love is impossible without Christ. I know a lot of couples who aren’t big about faith who still love each other well, with agape love, but I know that really being connected to Jesus increases chances. Big time.

The dare today is simple: Respond to God (and the intention of this book is to lead us to Christ).

Not sure how this translates into doing something for you outside of this: To commit to living my life out of the power of the Holy Spirit and the heart of the Father through the grace of Jesus at the Cross.

 

Because Tonight is Love Dare Day 18 Night

That sounds way more creepy than it is. It’s just the day I’m finally going to act on day 18 in Love Dare

Love Dare Day 18

It’s simply a night where I will pull out the fine china, grill a steak, cook some rice, and toss a salad.

We’ll eat at the dining room table together while the children slumber or otherwise occupy themselves in their rooms.

My hope is that we will have a fun time connecting.

Since it seems like we spend an awful lot of time talking about our parents’ health problems or our children, I’m printing out this handout from North Point’s MarriedLIfe .  Maybe it’ll be a fun thing to do (at least the conversation part).

Perhaps it’ll lead to a deeper understanding of each other. If not, a fun in house date night is always a fun thing.

Love Seeks to Understand – Love Dare 18 (Pt 2)

I feel like I need to sit on this dare for a while.

Love seeks to understand. There are moments when it seems like I really need to share more than I do, but in the end, I need to create safe space for you to speak your heart and your mind.

Love Seeks to UnderstandI don’t need to be passive sharing my heart with you. Or my fears or stresses or even failings.

But this dare isn’t about my working through that particular issue. This dare is about you. It’s about my understanding and seeking to understand and being a student of you.

And why is that important?  Because you are important. You are precious. You are a gift. You are worth hearing and listening to. You are wise. You have important things to say. Plus I just plain love you. And I’m called to hear you and listen to you.

If husbands love wives like Christ loves the church and He hears our prayers, how much more should I become better at hearing your heart?

I’m scared at what I might hear sometimes, but that’s a ‘me’ problem. 🙂

So… until I have the dinner that is called for in this dare (I’m supposed to cook for you, and I’m sure you won’t remember when this dinner took place because my goal is that you don’t see this blog until 5/14/2015 (our 10 year anniversary).

My goal.. my desire to make good on this dare, as I mostly laid out yesterday:

  1. Ask you questions: Good questions and not just one, but follow up questions. I’m not gonna let you wiggle off the hook. Not that you’re a worm that I’m going fishing with, but you get the picture.
  2. Listen to you: I’m not going to cut you off. I’m not going to go after a distraction.
  3. Pray: See God for better understanding if I don’t get it or if something you says touches something off in me.
  4. NOT solve problems unless you ask me to: I’m going to hold my tongue as long as possible in the solution area. There’ll be plenty of time for that later.

The point of understanding

You’ve suggested before that you, in the past, didn’t think your words or opinion mattered. Your emotions might get cut off. You might not feel totally heard or validated.

I want you to feel the complete opposite with me. Period.