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Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Love Dare-Day Twenty Three

[Love] always protects. – 1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV

Marriage is made up of many things, including joys, sorrows, successes, and failures.  But when you think about what you want marriage to be like, the furthest thing from your mind is a battleground.  However, there are some battles you should be more than willing to fight.  These are battles that pertain to protecting your spouse.

Unfortunately your marriage has enemies out there.  They come in different forms and use different strategies, but nonetheless they will conspire to destroy your relationship unless you know how to ward them off.

Some are clever and seem attractive, only to undermine your love and appreciation for one another.  Others try to lure your heart away from your spouse by feeding you unhealthy fantasies and unrealistic comparisons.  It’s a battle you must wage to protect your marriage – when love puts on armor and picks up a sword to defend its own.  Your mate and your marriage need your constant protection from things like:

Harmful influences.  Are you allowing certain habits to poison your home?  The Internet and television can be productive and enjoyable additions to your life, but they can also bring in destructive content and drain away precious hours from your family.  The same thing goes for work schedules that keep you separated from each other for unhealthy amounts of time.

You can’t protect your home when you’re rarely there, nor when you’re relationally disconnected.  You have to fight to keep balance right.

Unhealthy relationships.  Not everyone has the material to be a good friend.  Not every man you hunt and fish with speaks wisely when it comes to matters of marriage.  Not every woman in your lunch group has a good perspective on commitment and priorities.  In fact, anyone who undermines your marriage does not deserve to be given the title of “friend.”  And certainly you must be on guard at all times from allowing opposite-sex relationships at work, the gym, or even church to draw you emotionally away from the one to whom you’ve already given your heart.

Shame.  Everyone deals with some level of inferiority and weakness.  And because marriage has a way of exposing it all to you and your mate, you need to protect your wife or husband’s vulnerability by never speaking negatively about them in public.  Their secrets are your secrets (unless, of course, these involve destructive behaviors that are putting you, your children, or themselves in grave danger).  Generally speaking, love hides the fault of others.  It covers their shame.

Parasites. Watch out for parasites.  A parasite is anything that latches onto you or your partner and sucks the life out of your marriage.  They’re usually in the form of addictions, like gambling, drugs, or pornography.  They promise pleasure but grow like a disease and consume more and more of your thoughts, time, and money.  They steal away your loyalty and heart from those you love.  Marriages rarely survive if parasites are present.  If you love your spouse, you must destroy any addiction that has your heart.  If you don’t, it will destroy you.

The Bible speaks plainly about this protective role, often using the analogy of a shepherd.  God warned, “My flock has become prey … food for all the beasts of the field.”  How so?  “For lack of a shepherd.”  Not because these men were too weak to perform their duties but because they didn’t pay attention.  Instead of watching to make sure that the sheep weren’t being picked off by predators, “the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock” (Ezekial 34:8).  They took extra good care of their own needs and appetites but gave little thought to the safety of those under their supervision.

Wives – you have a role as protector in your marriage. You must guard your heart from being led away through novels, magazines, and other forms of entertainment that blur your perception of reality and put unfair expectations on your husband.  Instead you must do your part in helping him feel strong, while also avoiding talk-show thinking that can lure your attention away from your family.  “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1).

Men – you are the head of your home.  You are the one responsible before God for guarding the gate and standing your ground against anything that would threaten your wife or marriage.  This is no small assignment.  It requires a heart of courage and a head for preemptive action.  Jesus said, “If the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into” (Matthew 24:43).  This role is yours.  Take it seriously.

Today’s Dare

Remove anything that is hindering your relationship, any addiction or influence that’s stealing your affections and turning your heart away from your spouse.

You will be restored if you remove unrighteousness far from your tent.  (Job 22:23).

I have never been one of those women who spend her time watching soap operas, reading magazines on how to do this or that or romance novels.  I had a hard life growing up and learned there were no fairy tales and there are no magical kingdoms with happily ever afters.

But with that being said I do believe in REAL love.  I do believe in soul mates and I do believe in people finding who they were meant to be with.  I enjoy movies that focus on these sort of beliefs such as:

The Notebook http://youtu.be/S3G3fILPQAU
What Dreams May Come http://youtu.be/TPZpQsEFcKI
My Life http://youtu.be/L8dAe3u0vWg
Fireproof http://youtu.be/84q0SXW781c
The Family Man http://youtu.be/OnouJoQs52c 
Romeo and Julie the 1968 Version http://youtu.be/gvCpDknV6Ps
  These movies, my top choices, describe not only a love between and a man and a woman but it shows the struggles that life can bring and how love can overcome those struggles.  These types of movies glorify the love two people share rather than glorify hate, adultery, and violence like most other movies.  They don't cloud your perception with unrealistic expectations for a man or for a women they just focus on what is important.... LOVE.

I try to keep a good balance in my home, I have not always been good at it, and I try and let my hubby know that he is the ONLY man for me and the only man I am focused on.  There is no opportunity for me to have my heart taken because it belongs to only him.  My hubby is my life, he is my best friend, he is my protector and he is the love of my life.  I will do what I need to do till the day God calls me home to not only say these things but to show him.

When I was given a real second chance with my hubby and he not only came home physically but mentally I removed influences that would hinder my relationship with him.  And most importantly I got out of God's way and gave it all to Him to work on rather than trying to control everything.

My marriage has been restored, my faith has been restored and our love has been restored.


Men – you are the head of your home.  You are the one responsible before God for guarding the gate and standing your ground against anything that would threaten your wife or marriage.  This is no small assignment.  It requires a heart of courage and a head for preemptive action.

Hope. Faith. Trust. Love. Patience. Desire. Understanding. Prayer. Peace.

I decided to write the words that came to mind, when I asked myself to describe my wife and what she seeks in this life/what characteristics best describe her.

It is a tremendous responsibility knowing that my wife loves me with all her being, and her happiness--her true happiness and peace for her soul lies for the most part within my hands. Here is a woman, that like all husbands I suppose, I would not hesitate to defend her and lay down my life for hers. And yet, life is rarely so dramatic.

So far I have not been called upon to save her life in this manner. Rather, I have been called upon to lead her and our family to a place of peace, with a foundation of love and faith. It has been a long-time coming. My wife has been patiently waiting, guiding me...hoping for a better day.

As a child, I felt abandoned by my biological mother. As a young adult, my sister who was very close to me, died unexpectedly. My mother, after being reunited for a few years, died unexpectedly of cancer. These experiences only added to my sense of abandonment. That sooner or later, everyone and anything dear to me would be taken or otherwise leave me.

While not a psychologist, I have come to learn that much of my past behavior was a defense mechanism of sort. I had the mentality that bad things would happen...so why not hasten the occurrence and get it out of the way already. After all, it is always the uncertainty, they say, that is the worst. Makes sense, right?

I thought so too.

For many years...decades...I lived my life this way. For today. Tomorrow was not going to come. Reckless...hasten the "bad thing" to happen already.

When Michelle and I were apart, for the first time I felt what it was to really love someone. She was gone. I had left. And I missed her and felt a pain that I never known before. The pain that I saw in her..emotionally and physically, when I communicated to her that it was time for me to move on....was something I wish but know I can never take back. But, the experience I know...however painful and regretful was, unfortunately, necessary for me.It allowed me to understand what love was...true love...and to realize it had been with me all along. That home with my wife and family is, in fact, where I belong.

When Michelle accepted me back, I felt for the first time since a small child that I was with someone that truly was never going to leave me.

We will have ups and downs in our marriage. God willing, we have another 50 years in us...and I know I can screw up a lot in a day...let a long 5 decades:).

But I also know, for the first time in my entire marriage...that I am not "missing out" on anything by being married to Michelle. Rather, I am truly when of the few lucky ones that has found the woman of my dreams...loves her...is in love with her...and--is loved by her. It is an honor to be her husband and represent our family. An honor that I now take seriously and will protect it from all threats, at any cost.

My wife's prayers have been answered. It has been a long journey, but now--we can take the rest of it (truly) together.


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