Encouragement life lessons

2 Thoughts That Changed My Life: Part 2

January 21, 2013

If you missed Part 1, the first thought that changed my life was that marriage is more about making me holy than making me happy.

I went through the first 10(ish) years of marriage learning what that really means. It’s a tough concept to grasp, but, if I can be totally transparent and honest, one thing made it easier. That’s still kind of about me. I know! The whole point is that it’s not about me. But if you think about it…if it’s about making ME holy instead of happy…that’s still kind of about ME.
That’s when the second thought changed my life. This one wasn’t read in a book. (Not one that’s published yet, anyway.) This one I didn’t hear or glean from someone else’s experiences and wisdom. This one was just for me. God spoke to my heart directly and said marriage is a group project.
Remember when you were in school and you were assigned a group project? Sometimes you could pick your group members and pair up with those you knew would work hard. Other times you were randomly assigned groups and got stuck with partner(s) who didn’t carry their own weight. Regardless of the situation, the group would rise or fall together.

Marriage is a group project.
Thankfully, you get to pick your partner. You set about finding someone you think you’ll work well with, but you can’t predict every situation, can you? You saw that he makes strong, stable choices but only over time did you realize those choices take a loooooong time. His thought process takes about 3 weeks longer than yours, which means you spend a lot of time waiting. You thought you married a changed man only to lean that those bad habits were just tucked away in a closet. And when they reappear, you both get to face them. You chose the guy successful with money; you didn’t know that was a facade and now you’re both in debt.

The moment you said “ I do” God saw you as one. One output. One future. ONE. The problem was that for years I saw us as “Two as One.” I conceded the point that it’s not all about me. I accepted that there are times David will lead and I need to follow. I even acknowledged that sometimes (albeit rarely) I may not have the answer. But I still viewed myself separately. God was working on making me holy and at the same time making David holy. And that’s where I was so wrong.

Marriage is a group project. 
That means that when God views us, he doesn’t see that David works in an office and Regina stays home with Brynna. He doesn’t see that I pay the bills and David takes out the trash. From my point of view, I saw it this way:
David – works to provide X income, makes long-term financial decisions, gave a homeless man $20 on his way back from lunch
Regina – manages life outside of work (i.e.: bills, errands, etc), cares for child, supplements with Y income, spent the afternoon with a girl desperately in need of a friend
But God sees us this way:
THEY – make XY income and tithe (give) part of that amount, manage THEIR home, pay THEIR bills, invest in THEIR future, care for THEIR child. THEY gave to a homeless man and THEY loved on a girl needing a friend.

Do you see the difference? God doesn’t care who takes out the trash. He sees that it’s taken out. He cares less about who earns what portion of income. He wants to see that we give a portion of it back to Him. Marriage is a group project and what matters is the final output.

Just like in school, this means that sometimes I have to pick up the slack that David leaves. Sometimes I bear the consequences of his choices. It means that sometimes he has to work harder than I do. It means that sometimes he gets to share the benefits of my effort and other times I get to reap the reward of his labor.

There’s no scorecard. There’s no record kept of how many diapers changed or dollars earned or hours worked. I can’t describe the freedom of truly, really, down in the deepest parts of me understanding that I don’t have to feel less than because my income is smaller (or nonexistent). But I was shocked to learn that it was freeing for David, too. He said that it lifted a weight from his shoulders to know that he gets to share ownership in the work I do just as I share the benefits of what he does.

Marriage is a group project.

And regardless of how you see you, God sees you as one. One output. One future. ONE.

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Side note: None of this is permission to slack off. He still sees all we do and knows all we think. He is, after all, still God.

And another side note: It goes both ways. He sees all we do collectively. He also sees what we don’t do. You will rise or fall together.

So the question is: are you working hard together or is there a slacker bringing down the group’s output? Are you the slacker? Will you do the work or blame your partner? 

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