I’ve eclipsed the halfway point of this 40-day journey. I find myself with an odd dichotomy that seems to surround this devotional. On one hand, I’ve successfully managed to deploy this series of dares without my wife figuring out what I’m doing. It was meant to be done for our mutual benefit, rather than any kind of credit. I didn’t intend on making generous deposits into the proverbial karma bank with the intentions of a series of future withdrawals should I get myself in a heap of trouble. No. So, I’m glad I didn’t waltz out and say, “Look at me and what I’m doing. I’m arguably the best husband ever.” However, on the other hand, there is a hidden delight associated with your spouse eventually figuring you out as witnessed by your metamorphosis.
I’m quite certain I’m behaving in more Christ-like ways. I can tell. She can tell. I’m less harsh, more forgiving, and I’m generally less reactive to situations that crop up. Because I’m handling things this way and I’m being more proactive to her needs, I see her doing that in turn. It becomes somewhat natural to be more loving to a spouse that is more loving to you. Yes, transmogrification is present. I can prove it. I guess I’m looking forward to the moment that she says, “What is it you’re doing? Are you angling for a new truck? What’s up?” It isn’t that I couldn’t keep a secret, but there is a distinct duality here. I want to do this free from her knowledge all while sharing it with her.
We’ll be able to discuss this together soon enough.
I’m not even remotely a Taylor Swift fan. I don’t particularly care for her music and from what I read of her quotes, she’s not a real nice person. I wish she were. But, I can’t deny her success. Let me leave you this tidbit for consideration. If, as a Christian, or otherwise for that matter, you think our world is really messed up, and you question how it can get any worse, doesn’t that mean the masses have it all wrong? The answer is yes. The masses buy Taylor Swift’s music by the millions. <—Insert Capt. Obvious meme here. My hypocrisy has nearly no boundaries though, so choosing Taylor’s image to illustrate my “Dove Lair” success is certainly ironical. Or, if you really want your noodle baked, does it actually mean I’m as depraved and debased as Taylor and border on a “glory hog” status? Or both? Yikes…
Yes, my friends there are layers of the onion and we must peel them back one by one. So let’s get started.
-Day 16 – “Love Intercedes” – As much as I may wish to “fix” or “repair” that which I see as incorrect or worthy of improvement in my wife, only God is capable of doing such things. I was challenged to pray for my wife’s heart today. I was dared to consider three key areas for transformation through the Lord. I thought about this for the longest time and as luck would have it, most of the things I’m asking for my wife’s benefit are similar to what I think I need the most improvement upon. That’s not always the case of course with couples, but in our case, bad behavior begets more of the same. So not only can I pray for her healing, but as I do the same it provides an example of something better. If I could grant her the default position in seeing the best in others, less reactivity, and a heaping portion of patience, I would be delighted, as would she.
-Day 17 – “Love promotes Intimacy” – This particular challenge wasn’t very tough for us. Despite our many flaws, we’re pretty good with the flow of conversation and intimate discussion. We chose to live several hours from our family supports when we settled in the location we did. Our folks don’t live across town. They never were able to pop over when the kids were sick or help out when we needed it in those ways. My wife and I have relied primarily on one another all along and it has made us strong together. Sure, if and when the chips were down our family dropped what they were doing and made the commute to us. I don’t mean to imply in any way their absence in our lives. But I do wish to convey that which is true. Even though we’re terribly flawed, we do well with intimate auditory portions of our individual and shared lives.
No matter how well we believe we’re doing though, there always seems to be room for improvement. I noticed that often I don’t signal my wife well under stress about things as simple as the approach to tabling a discussion item. Here’s an example. I find myself in the middle of a huge legislative issue I’ve worked on with a team of people for months, and in the 11th hour, it is sliding sideways with no apparent means of salvation. My wife sees this written all over my face, for my body language is quite transparent. When she asks me what is wrong, I harshly respond with a “Not now, can’t you see I’m busy?” That’s horrible on my part. Do we always set down later and discuss things? Yes. But, I can do a better job of signaling to her. Rather, it should go like this, “Actually, I’m really frustrated and deep in thought at the moment. I need a bit here to work through some forks in the road as a mental exercise in curing this problem. Let me think through this and after I’m sane again, I’ll spill my guts. Is that ok? Also, I’ll take hugs and kisses if you’ve got them…” That’s much better. As a matter of fact, that example actually happened just like I wrote on the day of the dare. There was quite a difference in her response too. Rather than walking off miffed, I was offered understanding and my respectful response to her made all the difference on the trajectory of the whole day. My good behavior elevated the quality of how things went for the balance of the time we had together. To think back on how many times I’ve done this simple thing wrong was very convicting for me. So, the challenge today was to be offer intimacy in the right ways with my spouse, but that assumes you’re not a smartass. I am. Thus, I need to carefully consider that which precedes verbal intimacy, as I don’t routinely do that well.
-Day 18 – “Love seeks to Understand” – In essence, I was to prepare a meal for two and explore my wife intellectually and otherwise. I didn’t do this dare. We’ve got two kids, both of which appear to have made it a personal goal to install us both in the asylum on or before their 18th birthdays. They’re eerily close to fulfilling their missions by the way. Seriously though, this is a great challenge and I love thinking about the possibilities with it. But I’ll have to post about it after I find a way to accomplish time for two. What is the acronym for “to be continued”??? TBC..
-Day 19 – “Love is Impossible” – Yikes… I don’t like the sound of that. This was kind of a gut punch for me. I’m reminded of the four loves as interpreted by the Greeks. What is it to love? Where, when, and what love am I deficient? Can I conjure love out of thin air? Can I love all on my own? Yes, I believe I can. But I can’t love well without Him. In order to truly love and love well, I need the Lord in my life. I think people are capable of love on some levels if they are free of God. I just don’t think they truly understand what love is without Him though. If people believe they can grasp, define, and demonstrate Storgi, Philia, and Eros (assuming they’ve had a significant other in their lives), how can they properly pull them together and bind them without Agapi???
I prayed for God to continue to be the biggest part of my life. I read somewhere a line about “pray without ceasing” not long ago. Wink, wink. My fellow congregants may remember a service centered around 1 Thessalonians 5 regarding Christian Conduct that should ring a bell.
-Day 20 – “Love is Jesus Christ” – If you’re a Christian, you should get today’s reminder, dare, and mission. If not, send me a message, comment here, or reach out in any way you wish. I’ll make time to talk with you about what Love truly is. Love IS Jesus Christ.
-Day 21 – “Love is Satisfied in God” – In the reading that provided the path to today’s dare there were foundational concepts that all centered around being in the Word. When we pray without ceasing it helps to understand the context of our prayer life and what that ought to look like. I believe my prayer better glorifies God and I’m better to Him and others when I read the Bible routinely. The dare was to bring people into the word with contextual scripture that fits easily into daily life through Proverbs or Psalms. John as well. Those are great choices and should be well understood. I’m not sure how you could make an argument that those could be read too much. I admit though, I have my favorites. I love Genesis, Deuteronomy, and books like James, Timothy, and Titus. I have a daily reminder to read the Bible that I check when I’ve “done it” each day. Same for my prayer life. My prayer life is 100%. My daily Word? Not as good. I need to work on this and today’s dare was a great reminder of just how vital being in the Word is.
-Day 22 – “Love is Faithful” – Written in the book, it said, “Love isn’t a feeling, it is a choice.” Those are sage words. I assure you that love, in terms of a feeling, will come and go in every marriage. Few things in life are guaranteed, but that is among them. However, your commitment to love remains after the feeling of love has long left the stage, wandered across the street to hit the bar, before passing out tired, exasperated, and generally spent. I typed the text you see above as the dare today and sent it to my wife.
Please my brothers and sisters, be salt and light to everyone you meet.