It has been a long while since I wrote to enrich marriages. I have not lost sight of this part of my commitment to my readers to enrich relationships, especially marriages. I stumbled on some quotes and messages in the past few weeks coupled with my personal experience that brought enriching relationships back to the front burner. I will share in this post nuggets I have gleaned from these purposeful enlightening experience.
Paul’s prayer in the Book of Ephesians struck me, and I found it instructive for this post. I will paraphrase Chapter 1 verse 18 as follows;
"I pray that your eyes of understanding will be focused, clear and enlightened (your hearts will be flooded with light) so that you may see exactly God is calling you to do, and know and understand the confident hope He has given to those He called;"
In verse 17, Paul prayed that Jesus Christ will give us spiritual wisdom and insight, making us intelligent and discerning so that we may grow in our knowledge of God; knowing Him personally, deeply and intimately.
We need spiritual wisdom and insight to know God intimately. We need to have our eyes sharpened and focussed to see the goodness of God in our every waking moment. It is very easy for our vision to be obscured by the challenges, adversities and problems we have in life that we fail to take note of, acknowledge and appreciate the goodness of God; we often to fail to pay attention to the good that God is doing in our lives each day. In failing to do so, we also fail to appreciate God and give thanks, praise and adoration to Him for His wonderful deeds. We also fail to give Him the glory due to Him.
This lack of gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness hinders a close and intimate relationship with God. Because we will tend to complain and grumble more about the things we are yet to have or receive from God.
Seek To See Good:
We need to seek to see God's goodness each day even when it seems least visible, and we will find His goodness functioning at its best on our behalf. We have to train our eyes to see the good God richly pours out even in the midst of our trials. When we do so will see good revealed at every turn. If we don’t make a concerted and deliberate effort to see the good in our lives each day, our eyes and minds will always focus on the part of the cup that is empty and we will miss the many blessings already in the cup.
This truth is also applicable to our relationships. So often, we fail to see the good in the lives of those God has brought into our lives; these could be our spouses, siblings, friends, etc. While my emphasis in this blog will be on our relationship with our spouse, this principle is relevant to all our relationships.
A dear Senior Sista-Friend shared with me recently The UCB Word for Today devotional titled “Strengthen Your Marriage.” In this devotional, a couple celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary shared three Cs that helped to strengthen their marriage.
1. Commitment – putting the other person first
2. Concern – genuinely seeking to find out what your spouse needs. “Because husbands and wives are as different as cheese and chalk.”
3. Coping – “We can work it out.” You cannot always avoid conflict, but you can make it work for you.
A statement in the devotional caught fire in my spirit; “Closeness in marriage is not an accident; it is a decision you make, and keep making each day.”
I am strongly persuaded that one of the most important ways to develop emotional and spiritual intimacy in our marriage, and ultimately physical intimacy, is a quest to see and appreciate the good in our spouse. Beyond that, also to acknowledge and appreciate the good we see irrespective of the other changes our hearts desire to see in them. It is amazing what we can see and how much we can see when we give more than a cursory look and give attention to details.
Let me share my story with you to illustrate this point:
It was one of those weeks when so many things had to happen at the same time. It was also one of those weeks that my husband was at home in between long travels. We sat across each other on our dining table made of thousands of green glass smithereens sandwiched between two slabs of solid glass. The glass top dining table continues to be a source of inspiration to me and amazement to everyone who pays attention to it. Its uniqueness becomes more obvious as you take a closer look.
I was working with an intense focus on a protocol due for submission in less than 24 hours. My husband was also intently focused on the pile of envelopes on one side of his laptop, which he moved to the other side after working on the content of each envelope. I looked up occasionally from my laptop, wanting to catch his eyes on me or catch him looking at me with a smile. It didn’t happen. So I continued with my work.
Suddenly, my nerves fired shots of electricity through my right stump, and I winced in pain. Repeated firings had me groaning out loud. I looked across the table at my husband. He was so wrapped up in what he was doing that he didn’t hear me groaning.
So I kicked him with my left leg under the table. His head shot up, and he looked straight at me;
“You are not paying attention to me.”
He furrowed his brow. His eyes bore into mine. I winced again as another shot fired up my stump.
“My stump… Electric shocks…”
“Oh, sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t hear you.” His face lightened up, and the furrow disappeared.
The firing finally stopped. He continued with what he was doing. I continued for a while,then paused to look at him. That was when I noticed the pile on the right side had reduced while the pile on the left side mounted up. I knew what he was doing all the while. We had discussed it before he started and he asked for some clarifications as he worked. All of a sudden, the eyes of my understanding was illuminated; I realised what I had come to take for granted.
My husband was paying bills. He was crunching numbers. He was making decisions on what has to be paid, what can be paid and what would have to wait another month. He has been doing this for years. We became a single-income family when I stopped working and earning regular income at the end of 2007 because my health went downhill. It was a big deal and a huge concern for me, not to be able to contribute towards our family income in a significant way. But I would compile the bills ready for discussion and decision since I was at home all day and the one who takes receipt of the bills. In the last year leading to the lungs transplantation and the amputation of my legs, I could not even do this, and my husband had to take over completely, sorting and attending to the bills. While we discuss major stuff and pray together for God to supply our needs. Somehow, God makes provision for the huge pile of bills that comes in every month to get paid and to sustain us. The salary was just not enough.
So while I was getting angry at my husband for not paying the kind of attention I wanted to me, after all it was just the two of us at home, he was paying intent attention to keep us financially afloat. And I almost missed the intense effort he puts in every month to get it done, despite his heavy workload and frequent travels.
When we discussed the incidence later, I realized that I also missed one of the good that God did for us this year. For the past several years, my medical bills ran into many multiple hundreds of thousands Swiss francs. But in 2015, we had paid only a minute fraction in medical bills compared with the previous years. A huge hole in our finances had been sealed.
I knew more than ever before that I needed to retrain my eyes to focus on the awesome goodness of God, which He daily pour out on us. I also knew that I needed to have my eyes sharpened and focussed to see and value the amazingness of my husband; not once in all these years had he ever complained about the huge burden my medical issues had posed to our lives and our finances.
To be continued in Part 2.