In Amir’s comment here, he wrote:
I’m not saying I don’t empathize with a husband (wife) who gets frustrated with certain things about his (her) wife (husband); truth be told, everyone does at various points in a marriage.
Still, marriage vows mean things, and it behooves the Christian–especially one who serves in an office of oversight described in the pastoral epistles–to take that marriage covenant seriously.
This leads me to write about something I’ve been mulling around for quite some time: Life is a Choice.
When we’re single and desire marriage, we long to get married. When we’re married and desire children, we long to conceive or adopt. When we’re without a job and want to work, we long for employment.When we see that new opportunity and want to go for it, we long for it to become real.
When we get that spouse, when we get that kid/those kids, when we get that job, when we get whatever it is we’re desiring or whatever it is we get by default in this life, it doesn’t take long to realize it’s not all balloons and roses and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Sometimes we even wonder why the heck we longed for this in the first place … or why God allowed it.
My Oldest daughter, who will be 16 in a few weeks, is going through some very difficult times due to circumstances she had no part in. As we were driving home from a doctor’s appointment, she shared how thankful she is for the Mom I am to her and how other parents don’t do the same. She listed many things. I told her, “It’s a choice. It’s my choice to stay in and be your Mom.” We talked about that for a long time.
There were a few who criticized me for staying in my first marriage as long as I did … that I should have bailed out long before he ended it, long before I knew what had been going on, but I had made a choice to be married: for better and for worse.
In my marriage to my wonderful husband now, it is still a choice, albeit an easier one. But there are times he’s not so fun to be around … there are times I’m very grouchy and irritable (my girls think he’s a saint for putting up with me sometimes – I think he’s a gutsy man to marry a perimenopausal woman!). There are times we don’t feel so loving toward each other. But we continue to choose to love each other. It is a choice.
Having had two babies in diapers, both with allergies, one with special needs, a husband who was presenting serious, negative emotional behavior, and no family support, created many a time when I made a choice in my extremely exhausted state: a choice to smile, a choice to care for my babies with kindness and gentleness, a choice to love. My special needs daughter is an enormous amount of work. It is my choice to continue to remain in her life as the Momma I long to be for her. My Oldest specifically pointed that one out – how I choose to positively take care of her sister.
The cold truth is … life is a choice. Remaining pure is a choice. Our attitude is our choice. Being a good parent is a choice.
And staying faithful in our marriage is a choice. It is a choice to not entertain thoughts about another man or woman who, at the time, appears better than the one you’ve got. It is a choice not to dwell on the negative of our spouse when it seems to be blasted in neon paint all over our life at that moment. It is a choice to let go of the things that really don’t matter and not wallow in them, not allow them to grow roots of bitterness. It is a choice to pull roots of bitterness rather than water them and allow them to grow. It is a choice to humble ourselves, heed wisdom, ask for accountability, and stay true to the vows we made.
These choices are often hard. They must be deliberate and proactive. When we fall, we need to catch ourselves quickly, get rid of what tripped us, and choose to walk-it-straight, again.
How hard is this to maintain making positive choices over a life time? Read about the kings in the Old Testament. So many who started out honoring God fell by the wayside … tempted by a woman, or pride, or simply tired of staying true and just giving up. When I was younger I couldn’t figure that out … how one could live their lives honoring God only to fail so miserably later in life. Now that I’m a bit later in life and have gone through a lot, I get it. I’m tired. Tired of the trials. Tired of the things that never seem to end. Tired of being knocked down and having to pull myself back up, for the umpteen-thousandth time. I don’t want to pray for the strength to get back up. I don’t want to wait on God, again, and again, and again. But I choose to do so. It’s a choice – a choice often against what would be so much easier to do, often against our momentary desires and passions.
James 1:13-15 says:
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
I heard Ravi Zacharias speak about Daniel on the radio many years ago – here’s a recording where Ravi talks about Daniel – either what I heard or similar (Ravi begins at 3:02). At 26:45 Ravi talks about training our appetites, and it’s very powerful. He continues to quote Billy Graham and his concern for living his live in his senior years so as not to destroy what he’d spent a life-time building. Daniel stayed the course because, at the very beginning, when they asked him to eat the king’s food, he refused. Daniel 1:8: But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
Sometimes that first choice doesn’t seem so evil, it doesn’t seem as though we’re being dragged away by, ahem, our own, evil desire. It doesn’t even seem like we’re being enticed. It seems, well, normal. Sometimes it even seems good and can be categorized as an answer to prayer.
We need to check ourselves and pray for, and use, God’s wisdom. We need to do whatever it takes, even to the extreme, to make the right choice in the seemingly benign and small matters. Those choices determine the projectory of our lives.
Draw the line. Make the Choice.