Lent and the Love Dare – Part 3 of 4

HALF WAY THERE, he said with a resounding sense of pride.  If the Love Dare was a week, this would be hump day…  😉  You know all about Kirk Cameron, the movie “Fireproof” and my Lent challenge by now so let’s jump right in for the second half of the marriage devotional.

Day 21 – Love is satisfied in God – Isaiah 58:11

Today I was dared to devote intentional time and emphasis towards pray and reading my Bible.  Psalms and Proverbs were suggested.  John was also on the slate.  I was asked to immerse myself in God’s love and in his promise of peace.  I started in Proverbs and read chapters 1, 2, & 3.  All regarded wisdom.  Ol’ Solomon was a sharp guy.  It is written Solomon was the brightest mind ever.  He has a lot to say.  If I were going to choose a guy that really got the hurts put to him in the Old Testament, it’d probably be Job.  I mean, come on…  Job was hammered.  But, I do think Solomon experienced a tall enough fall to know the pure definition of ‘loss’ as well as anyone in the Good Book.  To have so much, to stray from Him, and to realize paradise on every level was lost, would square a person up quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Day 22 – Love is faithful – Hosea 2:20

Today’s dare?  I needed to grasp the concept that love is a choice, not a feeling.  I think too few understand that.  I know it all too well, as does my wife.  Sure, young love and attraction bring people together, but rarely to we truly comprehend well the meaning of a lifelong commitment.  Only the biblical and well taught among us have any idea what that looks like in reality.  I have known and understood this for a long time.  I’m grateful for this knowledge.  The Love Dare brings it to the forefront of basic marital strengthening, and the results are a big deal.  One of today’s mandates was to find a way to say to my spouse that, “I love you.  Period.  And no matter what you do, I will never stop loving you.”  I actually have made it a habit in our marriage to do things like that randomly so my wife never has to wonder if I’m her best friend and committed to her.  I found a way to say it again though, and wrapped in my missed dare of an intimate supper this evening.  We visited and discussed things of importance, as well as just, “stuff” during our time together.  It really was a good day all the way around.

My desk is always a mess.  But this is the picture above illustrates what I’m doing each morning before I tend to anything else at work.  I’m learning that both of these should be top among many things I do each day.  😉

Day 23 – Love always protects – 1 Corinthians 13:7

“Remove anything that is hindering your relationship, and any addiction or influence that is stealing your affections and turning your heart away from your spouse,” was today’s dare.  Word for word…

I’d like to think that I’ve dissolved, severed, and otherwise discontinued things like that from my marriage.  But, maybe when I think those things to myself it becomes my way of justifying those items that still remain in the way.  Maybe I tell myself I’ve cut all I can cut.  But have I?  When I read this dare I was a bit perplexed honestly.  I haven’t found a single day that the dare couldn’t be applied.  Yet.

I spent a good portion of the day reflecting on this.  At first I thought this dare was geared towards things like being addicted to drugs, or porn, or something like that.  While I suppose it can be interpreted that way, I settled on it being aimed on the things that detract from my wife as a whole.  In essence, I came to the realization, for me, that I routinely give my time to too many places, organizations, advocacy groups, and causes.  I think I could stand to pare the list down a bit.  Today’s dare didn’t end up something I did and quickly received an ‘atta boy’ for like many other dares and days.  Instead, it stirred a great deal of reflection in me.  It was good guidance the Lord gave me throughout today and I’m eternally grateful.  I know what I need to do.

Day 24 – Love vs lust – 1 John 2:17

In my best KJV lingo and voice, “endeth it now sayeth the dare.”  Identify any obsession or object of lust in my life and be rid of it was the text of the dare.  That provocation didn’t mince words.  So I did it.  I had some old stag videos from years ago in the house.  I hadn’t watched any of that stuff in years, but I still had them.  There’s no justifiable reason for that.  I dug them out, blew the dust off them, burnt them, scooped up what was left, and chocked the molten plastic in the trash.  I focused on thanking God that his provisions are what I need, even if they aren’t what I think I want.  That’s a universal truth I often lose sight of by the way…

Day 25 – Love forgives – 2 Corinthians 2:10

“Forgive us our debts and we we forgive our debtors…”  That’s written and often spoken somewhere.  I can’t remember where at the moment…  😉  I need to wrap up the little tidbits of irritability, angst, and truly insignificant things I’ve held onto and forgive my wife them all in order to complete today’s dare.  What the heck good does it do when I hang onto that stuff?  Will opening the bottle on disgruntlement during a future conversation, or more appropriately termed “a fight”, actually do a lick of good?  No sir.  I know that.  Sadly, I usually only remember after dredging things back up that it’s a really bad idea.

In full disclosure I can’t think of a single time that tossing out something I haven’t forgiven my wife for from our past did anything but delve us deeper into division.  …Especially during the fight or conversation.  Today I let go of that nonsense.  Lord help me be rid of it continually!

Day 26 – Love is responsible – Romans 2:1

Rough day.  I was dared to pray through my areas of responsibility and also those of wrongdoing.  I asked God’s forgiveness for my failures, and then admitted them to my wife.  I think today was the first time I ever just rolled up and said, “Please forgive me these things…” to my wife without having either been prompted by virtue of a recent argument or urging from a situation.  I can’t recall a time I proactively sat my wife down and spilled my guts…

I guess the Love Dare isn’t as easy as I’d thought to this point.  But, I will say with no shame, I believe this daily devotional, even when hard or easy, is good for us.  It’s been good so far for us.  No doubt.

Day 27 – Love encourages – Psalm 25:20

Eliminate the poison of unrealistic expectations in your home they said.  Everyone’s doing it they said.  It’ll be fun they said.  …Not quite as easy as you’d imagine.  I don’t think this love dare was that lofty, but the fact of business is, most things are easier said than done.  And it’s darned hard to continue something you’re not used to if you don’t remain indefatigable about it.  I know there are some small yet pertinent items between my wife and I that need to be tempered.  I chose one innocuous thing, let it go, apologized to my wife for harping on it continually.  Frankly, I’m not sure she even noticed or really committed it to memory bank.  But…  The dare wasn’t to take credit and puff my chest out because I’m such a super guy.  Nope.  It was to give some praise for something positive, assure my unconditional love, and let a pesky point of contention go.  That I did.

Day 28 – Love makes sacrifices – 1 John 3:16

I didn’t get today’s dare accomplished.  Not even close.  I was dared to try and lighten my wife’s burden through a sacrifice on my part.  I had a completely full day and then some, and didn’t get to stop for lunch and worked in the shop until nearly 9pm.  I started before breakfast.  Sometimes when you do what I do, there are processes in place that can’t be paused to come back to tomorrow and when you begin a ‘run’ of this kind of work you stay until it’s completed or it’s trashed.  By the time I got in the house she was kind of frazzled as my boy had put the ‘crazy chain on the big sprocket’ and really given mommy and run for her money.  I took out the trash, got a supper around that she offered to make for me so she didn’t have to, tossed her my *favorite blanket when she was on the couch.  (*while that’s my blanket everyone in the house lobbies to use it routinely, so i chocked it up without being asked, lol.)

I didn’t really see a handful of tiny gestures as much of a sacrifice.  They’re probably things that I was a little less likely to do before experiencing these dares, but they didn’t engross the weight of today’s mission.  I think I’ll try to prove up on this one in future days.

Day 29 – Love’s motivation – Ephesians 6:7

I prayed for my spouse by name.  I found a way to express, “I love you.” I did so in a tangible method as well as inwardly.  I knew she was going to meet a friend and take the kids to a matinee.  So I took her car into town, gas’d it up, cleaned the windows I knew she had lamented over cleaning, and had it nice and warm idling for her to walk out and use first thing this morning.  Not a big thing, but I know it wasn’t lost on her.  She remarked about it in a text message, so the gesture wasn’t lost.

Day 30 – Love brings unity – John 17:11 

I was dared to isolate an area of division in my marriage today.  I wasn’t able to immediately or adequately do this.  I turned to God in prayer to reveal this to me.  I continued to pray that he continue to open and strengthen lines of communication between my wife and I.

I wasn’t coming up with an item that fit squarely into my understanding of the dare.  So I flat out asked my wife if she knew of an item, practice, habit, or behavior that might qualify.  Her reponse?  “Let me think on it.”

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I’m still hanging in there and with just a couple of hiccups, I’m pretty much on track.  I hope to be finished up with my 40 days just before Good Friday.  I had allotted the extra days to make it to Easter, but I believe I can stay on schedule.  Wish me luck.  I’d love to be able to not skip a day or be forced to do make up work much.

This truly is a good biblical based train up for how to be salt and seek light in regards to your marriage.  After all, you’re deep in prayer and reflection, you’re getting your guidance from scripture, and doing the works God has commanded us to.

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,

Be salt and seek light my friends…

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