Lent and the Love Dare – Part 1 of 4

I’m not Catholic, but I’ve always enjoyed the idea of Lent.  If for nothing else I like the idea of giving something up in sacrifice or to simply pay daily devotional in a focused method.  I wrestled, as silly as that might sound, with what careful pledge and examination I could address over the course of 40 straight days.  I was looking for something that was hard and required extra work on my part.  I also was hoping I’d come up with something with short and long term benefits for my wife and kids.  Kind of a tall order to roll that up in one ditty isn’t it?

Well, I was fortunate to have a great idea handed to me.  I had enjoyed watching the movie “Fireproof” with Kirk Cameron a few years back, bought the DVD, but hadn’t watched it in a while.  I was contemplating a Lent plan, and watching the Olympics.  During a commercial I was thumbing through channels and “Fireproof” was on.  It clicked with me instantly.  There were 40 days in The Love Dare and 40 days of Lent.

For Lent, I’ll be navigating through The Love Dare.  I should throw a shout out to the Lord real quick, as that was a great pathway that became instantly illuminated.  …And who says those things are accidents?  😉  For those of you unfamiliar with The Love Dare, it’s a 40 day Christian devotional specifically designed to strengthen marriages.

I’m going to write about each day as I move through them.  I hope to stay on schedule, but I’ll admit I’m more concerned with thorough completion than a strict timeline.  Fingers crossed; I hope to arrive on time at Easter.  I will add, I’m not in this alone.  My good friend Andy offered to help me, as he’s used The Love Dare as a guide before, and of course Pastor Steve is always present for guidance and aid.  Having a couple guys with personal relates might prove helpful as I make my way.

Day 1 – Love is Patient – Ephesians 4:2

Essentially today’s dare is to shut my yap.  I resolved to not say a single negative thing to my wife regardless of what stimuli presented itself.  It wasn’t too hard, but it must be said, we both had long work days, which transitioned into a quick Valentine’s Day supper, snagging the kiddos, and so on.  There wasn’t much time to get sideways.  Don’t think for a minute I’m hedging my bets so early.  I am stating however, I have a tendency to fire off at the mouth when I shouldn’t.  While this didn’t prove to be a challenging dare today, my reactionary vocal nature has been a continual source of friction for us.  If I can continue this dare alone, I’ll have accomplished something crucial for us both.

Day 2 – Love is Kind – Ephesians 4:32

Okay.  I see what the scoop is here.  I’ll let you in on a secret.  I didn’t cheat like many do and read ahead in the book.  Now that the veil has been pulled back, it’s clear this isn’t going to be easy.  In addition to yesterday’s dare, I’m to add today’s dare.  So…  I’m not doing something new each day solely.  Instead, this is a continuation of the previous dares with new additions.  I see what you did there…  😉

Fair enough.  Now that I understand the structure, I was successful in not saying anything negative while I challenged with one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.  I did laundry and dishes.  I despise both.  But they help wifey since she’s short on time at some points during the week and I’d rather she was able to spend time with us instead of spending it in the basement wrestling clothes.

Day 3 – Love is not selfish – Romans 12:10

In keeping with not saying anything negative, I’m to buy my spouse something that says “I’m thinking of you today.”  Sounds pretty easy right?  I toiled over this for a long time.  Do I buy her a favorite snack?  Do I give her flowers or a card?  What about some small present?  Man, this isn’t easy, but I am being encouraged to think about her and what makes her tick.  I’m usually pretty good with this, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s the point with this dare.  When I put time and energy into knowing her and thinking about her, a bond we share is strengthened by virtue of the commitment alone.  I took the opportunity to drive through an ice storm on an hour and a half round trip mission to bring her home her favorite sandwich.  I knew she was home during some crappy weather, so I told her I was going to run an errand and would bring back lunch.  Turns out she was very appreciative.  😉

Day 4 – Love is thoughtful – Psalms 139:17-18

My dare today was to ring wifey up for no particular reason just to ask her how she is.  I was challenged with showing interest in her happenings for no other reason than to let her know I was interested in what she has going on.  This particular dare was no problem whatsoever and was met well.  I have had a habit of doing this kind of thing for a number of years.  It isn’t uncommon for me to call or text honey bunny up just to see if she’s doing well and to let her know I love her.

Day 5 – Love is not rude – Proverbs 17:14

Hold onto you booties boys and girls.  Today’s dare?  I was to ask my wife three things that irritate her about me or my behavior.  That’s right.  Up until now the dares have been pretty manageable.  This one might shock you, but God took it easy on me.  It was a long day and we were both zipping around all over the place so when we finally got through the day and when there was finally a pause for a serious conversation like that, I made a solemn attempt.  I really did.  But…  The stars didn’t align for me.  I was about to get the TV set up, so I asked wifey where the remote was.  That provided a great segue.  Why you ask?  My sweet little wife came uncorked over the request for the remote’s location.  She gave it to me with both barrels.  While I’m not sure I had that one coming, I asked her, “would you say me asking for the remote is one of three things that irritates you about me?”  She replied, “YES.  If anything gets found around here, it’s because I’m the person doing all the looking.”  I went on to ask her for two other things while we were at it.  I’m not prone to swearing on my blog, so suffice it to say while she didn’t provide two others examples, I’m sure I can revisit it later and she’ll have ample examples for me to consider.  So yeah.  It might sound harsh, but the good Lord let me off easy on that one.  Picking at a raw nerve, even in a jovial fashion, was unwise.  “Here endeth the lesson…”  😉

Day 6 – Love is not irritable – Proverbs 16:32

Today we seem to be headed into more of what I’d call the “meat and potatoes” of this whole precept.  The requirement of me is to respond to challenges in our marriage with love instead of irritability.  I made a short list of areas where I need to add margin to my schedule.  I can use my time first thing in the morning better.  I get up very early.  Usually a full two hours if not three ahead of my wife who is usually up and around by 6am.  Lots of time I’ll do a bit of work, or net research, read, or watch the tube.  I can not only work on adding margin in other areas of our lives by utilizing my morning time better, but I can do a chore or two that lessens the burden on her as well.  That’s two birds dropped with one stone if I’m not mistaken.  I came up with a few selfish motivations that I need to be rid of as well.  I spend a ton of time worrying about where we’re going to be when, with whom, and what we’ll do.  That’s usually to satisfy my needs and not theirs.  Especially not my wife’s.  Things like that aren’t going to be a stretch for me to alter.  I can live just fine not worrying about how those interactions, there timing, the logistics, etc. benefit or please me.  It shouldn’t matter anyway, right?

Day 7 – Love believes the best – 1 Corinthians 13:7

Today’s dare had me making two lists.  I wrote out positives about my spouse on one.  Things like her dedication to family and her desire to become closer to Him were atop the list.  The other list was for negatives I notice.  Things like her reactivity and temper were atop that list.  I made those lists and chocked them away as instructed.  I then pointed out and mentioned to her that evening one of the positives from the list.  I commented about how I recognize what she does for others in her work place.  She truly dedicates herself to others so children have the environment and opportunity she knows they deserve.  She’s really selfless in that aspect of what she does and it shows.  It was important to me to let her know that I not only understand her motivation, but admire her works.

Day 8 – Love is not Jealous – Song of Solomon 8:6

Wowsers…  Today’s dare was pretty powerful.  I was instructed to become my spouse’s biggest fan.  I took the list of ‘negatives’ from the other day and burnt it.  I watched the things that I wrote disappear into the air.  I now comprehend that was figurative as well as literal in a sense.  I can choose to hold onto lists like that or I can choose to let them go.  The idea of burning it in today’s dare was perfect and really hit home for me.  To place a little icing on the cake I was to also visit with her about a recent blessing or success she’d enjoyed.  Frankly, she’s had a really rough go of things at work and that takes up a lot of her day, so I was kind of scratching around to find something.  I actually had a hard time coming up with something until it donned on me, that it probably doesn’t need to be a life sweeping thing.  It’s more important that I observed some singular thing no matter what it was, she know that I noticed, and that I share my admiration and joy with her over the success, no matter the supposed size of the accomplishment.

Day 9 – Love makes good impressions – 1 Peter 5:14

I was really tickled to consider a specific and positive way to greet my spouse today.  That was the mandate, and I loved it.  I approached the ‘greeting’ with a smile and enthusiasm just like the book dared.  Additionally, the message was to alter my approach to better reflect my love on a daily basis with each interaction.  I hadn’t noticed it, but my wife and I used to kiss each time we left one another and came back into contact with one another.  Kids and time have been allowed to get in the way.  I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense, but rather that I’ve let stuff get in the way of making that minuscule effort and simply gotten out of the habit something as sweet and personal as a kiss and quick embrace.  This was a great reminder about that little gem in particular.

Day 10 – Love is unconditional – Romans 5:8

Today I was dared to do something out of the ordinary for my wife.  Most examples I saw were household chores or little gestures.  Part of me wanted to make a splash with my gesture.  I reconsidered.  If I’m approaching these 40 love dares properly, I need to be cognizant that not only is this training and inspiration for me, but also something to aid me in dropping bad habits and introducing the shear sustenance of good habits.  Instead of ‘going big’ as I’m guilty all too often, I did the dishes.  I loathe the dishwork, so that was a big deal for me on a small level.  I gave the credit to my daughter when asked, because she helped with a portion.  We’re nearing wifey’s birthday as well.  So my children and I picked out all new dishware for her.  She was in drastic need of a new set.  The chips are excessive now and even though we like the plates and bowls, a new set is in order.  We were able to get the new set, give them to mama bear, and then I cut little hearts out of the middle of bread, buttered them, tossed them in the skillet, cracked eggs into the heart voids, and made a fun and special little breakfast served on her new dishware.  It was fun for the kids and she had a really genuine smile about her as a result.

This blog posting is to be part one of four.  I’ve completed the first ten days of The Love Dare.  My reflection thus far?  “I triple dog dare ya” to do it.  I haven’t cheated a single time.  I haven’t looked forward or gotten frisky.  I’ve been diligent, and instead of making my notes in the book itself, I made them as blog posts here for the most part.  Thus far I’m liking the content and cadence.  I’m getting biblical reminders of better ways to treat my wife and reminders of better living.  I can’t offer a full conclusion yet, but I can tell you at this point I’d recommend this to everyone, regardless of the health of your marriage.

Ephesians 5:25-29 – Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,

I’m loving The Love Dare.  Be salt and seek light my friends…

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