Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What Marriage Is Teaching Me

Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."

It's been three months now since I walked down the aisle to marry the love of my life. We said, "I do!" and promised our love to one another for as long as we both shall live. It's been an amazing three months from our wedding day through now. We spent the first week of our married life on the beautiful island of Kona, Hawaii. When we were still dating, Nathan joked with me as he sang the Aladdin song, "I Can Show You the World", and he proved that to be true from the very start.

Then, we got back to our new home where we had an abundance of wedding presents waiting for us to unwrap them. We still didn't have a couch to sit on, and we had a laundry list of things that needed to be taken care of as newlyweds. Nathan went back to work, and I dove into figuring out what my new title as "wife" meant. I learned what it's like to take care of bills, wash laundry, cook dinners, and shop for groceries. My mom had taught me these things growing up, but when they became my daily responsibility, it was a huge adjustment.

Now, three months into marriage, I feel like Nathan and I have adapted to our new life as husband and wife. We've been learning how the other person ticks, and I can honestly say that the more I get to know my husband, the more I love him. He's truly a remarkable man!

Marriage has been teaching me a great deal about myself in the process. Things that I didn't even know about my character have been popping up, and I've come to realize that marriage is not only one of the hugest blessings... it also is a way in which God is molding and shaping me to be more like Him. Through marriage, God has been knocking off some rough edges on me that I didn't even know that I had.

Marriage has been teaching me many things, but one of the top things God's been showing me over the course of these three months is this: I am a control freak! The crazy thing is that I just discovered this when I got married. I have a desire to control everything. There is a certain way I like things to be done from how the apartment looks, to how meals are cooked, to how dishes are washed, and even to what direction we take when we are going places. When I was single, these things didn't necessarily stand out to me because I just did things my own way without really thinking about it. I had my own room, my own vehicle, and my own routine. After getting married, however, God began showing me that my way is not the only way.

Over the last month or so, God's been greatly dealing with my heart on my "control freak" habit, but He has a different word for what I've been describing... that word is this: PRIDE. Doesn't that sound like such a strong word? Ouch! I've thought that my way is best and that anyone who doesn't do things my way is clearly doing it wrong. This has been most apparent on Nathan's and my car trips. Nathan will be driving somewhere, and if I think he is passing the turnoff that would get us to where we're going the fastest, I'll ask, "Where are you going, baby?" One time as he was passing the freeway on-ramp that I thought we should be getting on I asked, "Aren't we taking the freeway?" and as he passed it, I stated (with a prideful tone), "Well, apparently not." That may have been the first moment of realization I had that I had an issue in this area. I have a very mellow husband who honestly puts up with way more than I ever would, and he laughed about this in that moment while still gently pointing out how I came across. That moment left an impact for me, and I started paying attention to all the times I do things like this. It's seriously on a daily basis. Yikes!

I wish I could say that I've completely conquered this pride issue, but I still have a long way to go. Pray for me! This is how ridiculous this whole pride thing is. I don't know anything about cars. Zip, nada, nothing. I can't even change out my own windshield wipers. Okay, so the other day we were at an auto store because we needed to get new tires on Nathan's car. While we were there, we went to pick up the things we would need to change the oil in his and my car. As we were looking at the oil and the filters and all the things we need to conquer this task, I began (once again) inserting my opinion of how I thought it'd probably be better for us to just take the cars into the shop to have the oil changed. I stated that for the extra ten dollars we'd be spending we could just have someone do it for us and we wouldn't have to bother with all of it. I watched the countenance of my husband drop. Once again, it was a moment where I realized I was trying to be in control of everything, and I needed to back off and allow this to be an area that Nathan got to be in control of.

Now, I have a husband who loves and respects me, and thankfully, even when I write devotionals like this that completely tell on myself, he will look and me and graciously tell me things that make me feel completely let off the hook like, "Baby, I think it's funny when you do that." or "I want to know your opinion." It makes it a whole lot easier to be open with you knowing that I'm completely safe in sharing all this. However, I still, by God's conviction, am realizing that I do have a pride issue, and it's something that He is chiseling off of me a little bit at a time.

The Bible has a great deal to say about pride, and it clearly shows that it's not a character trait that honors God.

Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Mark 7:20b-23 is pretty humbling when it says, "... What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." (italics mine). When pride is listed with all those other sins, it makes me realize how horrible it is! Lastly, Proverbs 8:13 says, "The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate."

Clearly, pride is a problem! It is sin, and it needs to be dealt with.

As I look at Philippians 2:3-4, it challenges me. It doesn't make me want to look down on myself and believe that I'm nothing. It does, however challenge me to have a right view of myself and realize that although my way of doing things is ONE way it is not necessarily THE way. God made each of us unique and different for a reason, and if He wanted everyone to be like me (ha!) He would've done so. Since He didn't, I need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

If you are a control freak like myself, you're not alone. If you're struggling with this whole pride thing in thinking that you know best about EVERYTHING, you're not alone. My encouragement to you (and myself) is to praise God that He is pointing out this character trait that needs chiseling, and ask Him to work on your heart to remove the root of pride.

Be encouraged with this verse: "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:12.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You've been showing me recently that I have a problem with pride. I have a tendency to think that my way is the best way, and I become a control freak in trying to get others to see that my way is the best way. I'm so wrong. Thank You for making me aware of my tendency toward pride, and I pray that you'll forgive me and continue chiseling off the rough places on my heart. Continue molding, making, and shaping me into the image of Your Son. In Jesus' Name.

Amen.