Now That Our Eyes Are Open!

After reading the article ‘Have We Got It Wrong???’ my good friend Lanre correctly stated;

‘This is a great article Segs. I can see where you’re going with this. But you didn’t land.’

He’s absolutely right.

I purposely utilised some shock therapy to wake us up a little; to wake us up to the fact that with regards to marriage something has definitely gone wrong somewhere.

Judging from the many responses I received; some of which were a resounding show of agreement and some an open display of irritation, I think most of us are now aware of the fact that maybe, just maybe, we need to re-assess our motives and priorities with regards to marriage.

Quick reminder;

“In Australia nearly every third of marriages end in divorce.

The divorce rate in North America is 54.8%.

According to findthedata.org the divorce rate in Nigeria for 35 to 39 year olds in 1986 was 0.6%. In 2003 it was 1.6%.

Whilst this is a much lower percentage than those of our brothers and sisters in Europe and the U.S, we need to bear in mind that in Nigeria we tend to ‘separate’ and not divorce. It is quite possible that the ‘separation’ rate in Nigeria is just as high as the ‘divorce’ rates in Europe and the U.S.”

It’s time to bring this home.

In what ways do we need to readjust our mindsets?

Firstly we need to consider the meaning and importance of the words ‘in sickness and in health’ and ’till death do us part’ before deciding that we want to enroll on the long, sometimes tortuous, but often enough blissful journey of marriage.

As I pointed out in my earlier article, our generation seems to lack the ability to commit.

In my marriage whenever and we had a major disagreement I would tell myself ‘this marriage cannot work.’

That, my friends is most definitely the wrong mindset.

There is absolutely no way that every day is going to be one of blissful peace, joy and tranquillity.

There will certainly be trials.

There will be heated disagreements.

There will be anger.

I believe that if I had remained in a positive mindset of ‘ this is my wife, and we are in this for the whole journey’ then we could very well have overcome anything and everything.

I now believe that no matter what problems, crisis, or challenges that occur, if a couple is determined to get through everything together then nothing can stop them.

And then there’s 1st Corinthians 13.

I hear those loud and tired groans of ‘ Oh no!! He’s going to harp on about selfless love again. Get me out of here now!!! Please???!!’

Sorry guys, but I believe that 1st Corinthians 13 is key to a successful marriage. I wish I’d recognised its importance a lot sooner.

In sympathy with your groans, as well as for the sake of time, I’m only going to focus on two aspects of 1st Corinthians 13 today.

Love is patient

We live in an age where we want everything now now now!!

Indeed I often refer to our generation as the ‘Now Generation’.

The media (here he goes blaming the media again. Love it!!!!) gives us a daily dose of the necessity of having and enjoying absolutely everything we want as quickly as possible.

But guess what!!

The best most cherished and most satisfying things in life are the things that we work on and build over time.

That house that you want to build or buy – be patient and work towards it – in your own time.

That country that you want to take a holiday in – be patient and work towards it – in your own time.

Stop Comparing!

That thing your spouse does that irritates the hell out of you – be patient and pray about it.
By the way, also pray for the grace to not be bothered by it anymore!!

But don’t nag.

Your spouse is not the same as you.

God never intended your spouse to be the same as you.

If you want someone that is the same as you are then maybe you should have taken your clone down the aisle that day!!!

Love is not proud.

The most heated arguments are often caused by pride.

Pride in being the one that is right.

Pride of being determined not to look stupid or seem weak.

I often tell my classes that the biggest reason for the breakdown of most marriages is a failure to communicate.

Consider this.

You’re in a heated dispute with your spouse. You’ve just given a well structured, slick, and yet venomous explanation as to why what he or she did is so wrong. Your spouse listened to you intently.
You’re already thinking to yourself, “my goodness I put that well!! There’s no way she can recover from that one; definitely game, set and match.”

But then your spouse comes back at you with an even more structured, slick, and venomous rebuttal; one that accurately points out some of your own mistakes and faults. Unfortunately because the rebuttal is so incredulously effective from the moment she started speaking, you’ve stopped listening, and are already preparing your own anti ballistic missile response.’

This is where the real problem begins.

Before you know it you’ve both been ranting and raving for 30 minutes, but only listened for approximately one minute and thirty seconds – give or take a few seconds.

We need to develop the patience to listen.

I know that this is definitely one of my more major personal challenges.

Patience to listen.

Patience to see things from your partner’s point of view.

Patience to understand.

And then there’s the wedding day!!!!

I’m going to be very blunt about this one guys.

In the larger scheme of marriage, a big and exciting wedding day is frankly quite irrelevant.

A big wedding day does not determine whether your marriage will coast or free-fall.

A big wedding day does not determine the final destination.

I remember chatting with my best man (who is so private that I’m sure he won’t want me to mention his name so I won’t. lol) on my wedding day.

In the middle of our conversation, whilst waiting for my beautiful bride (corny I know, but she looked gorgeous!!), I started crying. He looked startled for a few seconds. In fact I’m certain anyone who saw his expression may have naturally assumed that he was about to signal the substitution bench.

‘Are you ok? Why on earth are you crying?’ he asked.

‘I just can’t believe this day has come. I’m finally getting married; to someone I truly love’ I replied.

In other words, in my mind I had done it!!

Just as the ref was about to blow the final whistle at the end of extra time, I had scored the winning goal. I was marrying the woman I love. Everything would be great from now on. The game was won!!!

I wish I’d known then that the real match was just beginning.

Marry the one you love.

Cherish the one you love.

However be under no illusions that there will be no thunder storms.

Be very rest assured that there will be.

But when they do, try with every ounce and sinew of strength you have in your heart to remember that once upon a time you loved this person.

Once upon a time you cherished this person more than anything or anyone else in the world.

Why?

Because deep down, beneath the rubble of anger; beneath the mass of mistakes and failures, and under that ugly heap of pride, that person you fell in love with is still there. Maybe a little rusty, and far from glittering, but he or she is still exists.

He or she may seem like the devil incarnate at that moment. You may have to dig deeper than deep; but somewhere beneath that seemingly ugly exterior lies that person you fell in love with.

Please do not make the mistake I made.
In other words don’t ever give up on God’s ability to turn things around.

Don’t be fooled by what you see around you.

God can turn the most impossible looking situation around.

Despite all this we also have to recognise that there are cases in which both parties have made an effort to make things work, but to no avail. We need to remember that we all have different thresholds of strength and endurance.

Therefore nobody should judge anyone that decides to opt out.

But I urge everyone to give it their best – with all their hearts, all their minds and all their strength.

If you tried and tried but didn’t succeed and eventually opted out, be rest assured that God still loves you.

Be rest assured that God still wants the very best for you.

Be rest assured that our God of grace and mercy is ok with you moving on.

For those that are in abusive marriages I have this to say.

“Be honest with yourself. Be honest with the reality and the dangers of your situation, and be very very VERY practical.”

Finally, (am I hearing huge sighs of relief?!!!) Seek First The Kingdom of God.

I believe the most effective manner in which we can seek God’s kingdom is to focus on His two greatest commandments.

1. Love God with all your heart, strength and mind

2. Love your neighbour likewise.

To love God with all your heart and all your strength is far more than just obeying His commandments.

Of-course obeying Him is of vital importance, and as Jesus pointed out is a definitive demonstration of our love for Him.

However, having a personal relationship with our God is also essential.

A relationship is all about communication. Right?!!

You talk, He listens. He talks, You listen.

It is of vital importance that we cultivate a life in which we listen to the Holy Spirit of God.

He dwells inside of us and He is there to help and guide us. Let’s do our best to listen to what He has to say.

Remember – God is a God of love. Any voice inside you that is not speaking the language of love is not God’s voice.

Communication between you and God is very important.

Guess what guys??!!!

What may be right for you may not be right for the person next to you. God obviously knows this, and hence His expectations and requirements of each and every one of us are often quite different.

Love your neighbour will all your heart and strength – as described in 1st Corinthians 13.

For those who are married, this has to start with your spouse. Charity begins at home. By the way, by home I mean in your home as well as your work place.

We spend over three quarters of our lives at the office. The rest we spend at home.

If we learn to practice selfless and unconditional love at home and at work, it becomes a habit, and then it becomes a culture.

Wouldn’t it be great for our children to be raised in a culture of unconditional love?!!

The reason I have been harping on like a broken record about the importance of never ever judging those who live together out of wedlock is because we need to understand that what matters is not appearances but what lies in the heart.

Therefore, with regards to couples living together out of wedlock, if you really feel a need to, you can advise them – with love and without judgment or condescension.

You can pray for them – without judgment; without a holier than thou attitude; and without condescension.

But don’t you dare judge or slander them!

Who on earth are you or I to judge?!!!

‘First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye’

Matthew 7 vs 5

If God wants them to get married, then trust me, the Holy Spirit will convict them to do so.

Let’s not assume that God thinks like we do.

‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways my ways.’

Isaiah 55 vs 8

So it is also quite possible that He may leave them just the way they are; because that could just be what is best for them.

As someone who has made many mistakes and failed many times as a result of negative emotions, selfishness, and pride, if I can cultivate and practice even 30% of what I’ve written in this article, I will be more than pleased.

Our journey continues.

Have a great week.

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