Marriage and Baggage — Part 2

bible coffee

Yesterday, dear readers, I opened wide my suitcase to show you two areas of baggage with which we struggle in our own marriage (Read Here, if you missed it). Today my suitcase carries a can of worms! Oh let’s just get it out on the table shall we? Here are two more areas of baggage with which we struggle:

  • PAST/ PRESENT HURTS —  When a little bird is learning to fly, the Mama bird will fly with her little one and be at-the-ready to fly right underneath, to undergird her bird in flight until that baby learns how to fly steadily. I actually watched this the other day out in a nearby field. The mama bird was watchful, intent and faithful to swoop down when needed to steady her student. So it is with our past and present hurts.  Some ground is new for us, and we need wisdom in learning how to navigate and grow strong.

 

As a couple, we are to undergird one another in their hurts–not enabling for poor behavior stemming from the hurts, no.  But standing with and beside and cheering one another on, being watchful, intent and ready.  If counsel is needed, get good godly counsel without delay.  Sometimes, we just need to shut our mouths and LISTEN without interruption. Even so, we are navigating this course together.  To be strong, we must be willing to get underneath one another as they fly, meaning we pray for them and speak encouragement and listen. {This is a topic I will touch base on more personally next week–probably two posts worth.}

  • PRIDE — Oh each one of us should have just groaned. We ALL have pride and are prideful.  It is in our fabric. Let me tell you, this kind of baggage is poisonous, if given full rein.  It will destroy your marriage and any healthy relationships you are building–tearing apart families, churches, communities and nations. Scripture tells you to take it off or put it off, like clothing. Call the attitude for what it is and throw it off. Now granted this word has been misused in our language, as it has two distinctly different flavors .  There is proud of someone for an accomplishment–that is the FOR you kind of pride.  Then there is pride and arrogance that is paired with unteachability–this is the AGAINST you kind of pride. This is the kind of which we are talking today.

Here is what we do in our marriage: when we see the other acting from pride, we tattle on them to God. We keep on tattling until we see an “invitation” with the other to discuss the behavior. When the invitation comes, we gently share that we know and understand where they are coming from, but the outworking of it is prideful, arrogant and destructive.  For instance I have said to my Chris before, “I know this person in your life is acting in a way they shouldn’t and you are feeling threatened and angered by their behavior, so you are taking this into your own hands and handling that person in a way you should not. Turn them over to God. Charge it to His account. (Philemon 18) He will be faithful to take care of it.”

As we bring our baggage to God, each weight and hindrance that it represents, He gladly TAKES it from us and carries the weight–cast your cares on Him, every single one. He invites us daily to stay in the yoke (the kind built for two and intended to plow the ground ahead) with Jesus, letting Him bear the burden of the weight.  Our only job there in that place is to go where He leads, one step at a time and one day at a time. As a couple, we let God teach us about our baggage and the layers and layers of baggage within our hearts and lives.  It isn’t a quick process, but it is one that in the long run allows us to be all that God intended for us to be and do what He has called us to do.  I will close with a verse that has marked my walk that past two years, may it arrest your attention:

“Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time–pray that our God will make you fit for what He’s called you to be, pray that He’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with His own energy, so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the Name of Jesus, He will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving Himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving Himself freely.” 1 Thessalonians 1:11-12 The Message

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Marriage and Baggage–Part 1

woman standing at the door

A few years ago, I traveled with my friend to a weekend conference. As we were waiting for our luggage at the final stop, my very large and well-used suitcase (which had been given to us by a friend, who often traveled internationally) was coming down the luggage shoot and the handle just fell out and came first. Then came the bag.  And we laughed our heads off! Now my friend also works at a fine luggage store and said wryly, “You gotta get a new suitcase! That ain’t right.”

We ALL have baggage–whether is it packaged all nice and pretty or falling down the shoot and falling apart. The packaging really doesn’t matter so much–”controlled” junk and out of control junk is all the same junk.  Eventually the contents come pouring out over time, for any semblance of control is a facade.

Earlier this week, I spoke about how to divorce-proof your marriage.  The topic alone is a difficult one.  There are so many scenarios and situations that begin with, “But what about…?”. I know. I get that. We are all unique and created to be so.  Marriage is the marrying of two hearts and lives, but that does not equal “same lives.”   It means we have a wonderful supply of talents and abilities and a terrible lot of baggage we try to hold at bay, until it comes seeping out or pouring out in a torrent. We should celebrate and utilize those positive parts–talents and abilities. The negative parts, well, we have to face and deal with them in a healthy way.

That is my subject for today and tomorrow–dealing with the baggage. So let’s discuss today two kinds of baggage, which we may be carrying:

  • CHILDREN – No they are not baggage, and having them or not having them, wanting them and not being able to have them can all grow into some serious baggage of heart and mind. They are truly a blessing.  They do not fit into neat little packages nor do they arrive when we want them. They are often not on our schedule! But as a couple, we should discuss them openly and honestly.

If you are longing for a child in your home, the first place to begin is with one another and in prayer–seeking God one day at a time. I have been where you are–longing is hard, I know, so lift your eyes to God. He has a plan, knows your heart and is the initiator of this desire for children! So trust His plan, His way and His how. It is worth the faith you will gain, as you trust Him.

With children, sometimes they try to take the place of hierarchy in the home, which is the wife’s or husband’s.  As a couple, we must guard here. They need to know that mom and dad are a united front and there is no way they can come and usurp authority. Of course, we must tend to the children’s needs–and as babies, they need a LOT of our time and attention. This is where, as a couple, we must be proactive in spending time together and doing those activities we love to share! Model to your children the importance of united front, by showing them that while they are important and valuable, you and your spouse have time set apart that is just you. Believe me, children will try to get around the system and use many methods to divide.  Be watchful for this behavior and nip it in the bud. Love them and lead them.  Show them it is okay, even GREAT, for mom and dad to like spending time together, just as two.

  • APPEARANCE/ WEIGHT – It is completely unfair to think that we will always look the way we did back in the day. It is an unfair expectation and unrealistic.  We do not have personal beauticians, trainers and make-up artists following us around.  So if we see a movie with “so and so” and “such and such,” who (though our age) still have maintained their youthful appearance, some of it is hours and hours of hard work on their part, some is money they have to pay such people to train, brand and dress them, and some can be special effects or airbrushing. So let’s face it, while it is important to pay attention to daily hygiene and health choices, we are not going to be on film (nor is Better Homes and Gardens likely to come and do a photo spread on our homes!). We need to drop this ideal of perfection that our society is throwing at us on a daily basis.

Do your best to invest in your health for LIFE and enjoyment of life with your spouse, family and friends.  Invest.  But do not let it steal the joy from the blessings you have in your everyday imperfect, yet wonderful life! Choose daily to make good choices and let go of that standard of perfection that is daily trying to steal, kill and destroy your joy, your marriage and your peace. Spend yourself on investing in your inner self and relationship with the LORD, not spending more of your time, effort and worry on clothes and things that “re-package” your baggage. God made us in all shapes and sizes–and beauty that is real exudes from the inside of a person reflecting on the outside. Anyone with eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind that can conceive can tell you that.

Take time this afternoon and evening to pray about these two areas of baggage, which you may be carrying.  Ask God to get in your business of heart and mind–to the marrow of the motives and intentions.  Ask Him to show you how to cast the weight of your burdens upon Him.  He is faithful with each part and is not going anywhere.  He is with you every step of the way! More tomorrow…

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The Cake Story

Champagne Glasses and Wedding Cake

Truer words were never spoken than when Stasi Eldredge penned in her book Captivating the feeling with which we women most struggle—we feel like we’re “too much” and “not enough.”

We feel torn to bits among perfection, failure and just plain giving up.  We cannot decide if Martha Stewart is attainable, because every time we try to make the perfect meal and keep the perfect home with a perfect centerpiece on the table, it would seem, we fail. 

There’s nothing to see here—no pictures of perfection.  I’m just a woman, who wants to be more like Martha in the Bible, when she understood that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.

Such was my struggle on that week, when not only my husband’s parents were coming to Colorado, but also his aunt and uncle. I was pregnant with our fourth child and felt inadequate to say the least.  You could say my reality show would be called, “Woman Falls Short–in Everything.”

They all decided one day to take an excursion up the mountain through a bumpy road that I knew I could not, should not and would not take.  I stayed at home alone and decided to impress my guests with a fabulous meal. Soon they would taste and see my mad cooking skillz.

First I started boiling the chicken for the main course of Chicken Pot Pie.  Then, as it cooked, I pulled out my friend Holly’s grandmother’s recipe for Five Flavor Cake.  I had prepared it quite a few times before, so I felt confident.

As the cake was slowly baking in the oven, I prepared the chicken pot pie, feeling like I was the time-management, cooking, queen-of-the-world.  All of a sudden, as I was stirring the filling, I began to smell something burning. 

“Hmm,” I thought, “the cake is almost done, but surely it couldn’t be burning, yet.”  The burning began to smell electrical, then as I glanced at the oven—it was aflame!

I quickly turned off the oven, and grabbed pot holders.  The flames had died down and the charred remains of cake sizzled (at this point I thought my oven had sizzled and died, too).  I pulled the cake out and saw that nearly 1/3 of the cake had cooked over onto the element below.  The cake was not ruined, but it also wasn’t very pretty.

When I turned it over on the cake plate, I realized how despicably ugly it was.  But I decided that it was still tasty enough to eat. At this point I angrily and with vigor threw the pan in the outside waste receptacle.

That evening around the table, I served chicken pot pie, which was a hit by the way, and cake.  I, myself, ate some humble pie—as my tube pan became fodder for the trash man and my oven smelled every time I used it for awhile, as a reminder.  But at least the oven worked, praise God! 

Looking back, I see several aspects of my attitude that could have prevented that whole incident.

First of all, the recipe came from my friend in Arkansas, when we lived there.  I had also prepared it in Texas a few times, when we lived there.  But Colorado, 7000 feet altitude and cakes can be tricky.  I have since learned that the recipe need not be altered for high altitude, just fill the pan less full. 

Also, I was full up with pride.  I wanted to impress everyone.  But that left nothing for me but a frustrating snare. I didn’t have to earn their love or acceptance.  I already was (and am) loved and accepted by them.

Looking back I should have driven to the store for some take out and watched “Pride and Prejudice” again. It would have been received just as well, and my spirit would have been less frazzled.

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