We would like to give a special thank you to one of our fr-amily members, Mrs. Linda Strickland, for taking a moment to share her words of encouragement in her guest blog for us today. After more than 40 years of marriage, you can imagine the amount of wisdom she has to share on the topic. We love listening to her stories filled with nuggets of wisdom, and we hope that you will as well.
There is a wonderful story about the great concert pianist Paderewski. One evening a mother took her young son (who had just begun piano lessons) to hear this master play. The stage was set simply, with a spotlight highlighting the beautiful grand piano and bench. The mother and her young son found their seats and were anxiously waiting for the concert to begin. As they waited, the mother became engaged in conversation with the person seated next to her and did not realize that her son had gotten out of his seat. Just as she noticed his absence, “chopsticks” filled the air of the great hall.
My husband and I love marriage. In fact, we cannot even explain how much we enjoy learning and teaching the various topics that we explore within this subject. However, it seems that the more teaching and counseling we do, the more we meet people who are disinclined to honor what we refer to as the first relationship. In the past year we noticed a reoccurring theme with the couples we came in contact with and decided to ask a very important question. What exactly is a marriage covenant to you? The expressions and answers were surprising. After some chatting and pillow talk, we decided this would be our next training course. And here's why.
While we reviewed the Marriage Fruit series, a thought struck me. The different parts of the fruit must all be present in us to ensure that the entire fruit is properly displayed and manifested. I immediately got an image of a giant fruit salad, with all the different types of fruit mixed in, each flavor complimenting the other fruits. As I saw this in my mind I was struck by a thought. What makes the perfect fruit salad? For some people it is an abundance of strawberries, for others, there must be a strong citrus component. Some people are happy to leave bananas in a strictly minority role, while others believe that without apples, the entire salad is worthless. In fact, it is extremely difficult to get a group of people to agree about what makes a good fruit salad.
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (Proverbs 25:28).
This is one that is always good to “digest” more than once. Self-control is the art of putting what’s best ABOVE what we want. This can be hard in marriage. Especially, when we come from single or previously married lifestyles of repeatedly acting on those impulses and desires or customarily receiving them. It has been my experience that most of us are aware, from the gate, that this behavior is selfish and destructive to our attitudes and environments. Environment, meaning current physical location. That can be home, work, hanging with friends, visiting relatives, etc. We want what we want when we want it! The mindset is, “No one will remain calm or comfortable as long as I am not!” Hey friend! Wherever we are when allowing this behavior to take us over, we cause damage. That is the blunt truth of it all, no matter how much we justify the behavior. Lack of self-control is not appealing to anyone. It could contaminate what is left of your life.
A COMBINED VIEW
You may wonder why we picked the banana as a visual for this particular characteristic. Simply put, it is a very unassuming yet calming fruit with many benefits hiding within it, like humility. And since we felt that there was no one way to view this gentleness, we decided to discuss at least two important perspectives to help demonstrate its practicality in marriage. So, take a quick break to enjoy this fruit.
Often when we hear the word “faithfulness” in marriage, we immediately default to the meaning of being exclusive in our sexual relationships. Being faithful simply means he or she will not cheat by having sexual encounters with anyone other than their spouse. This is true. On the other hand, I learned that this mindset goes beyond physical sex. In fact, it begins before the altar. I avoided marriage for years because I was unsure of the faithfulness of my partner, and at times myself.
1 Peter 3:8-12 cautions us with these words. “8 Finally*, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto* called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew* evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (KJV)
Yeah yeah! I know where this is going. Don’t yell at my spouse. Show sympathy. Don’t be vindictive. Watch my mouth. Resist the urge to be mean because God is watching, and I do not want to be the one caught slipping and be labeled as evil. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy... And then you get married.
How do you compose a blog about kindness when everything and everyone around you is killing your motivation for it? How can I be useful when I am feeling used or used up? Why do I have to exhibit moral excellence when the people around me seem like their conduct is optional or they have no character at all, let alone spell it? Yes. This was my week and I still had to write about this spiritual characteristic.
Another easy one. Everyone knows what kindness is, right? Sort of a Mary Poppins meets Mother Theresa thing. But for the sake of this blog, I had to do the definition thing, so I went to the good folks at Oxford Living Dictionary who gave me this jewel: “The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”. Cool. Friendly, generous, and considerate. That’s me in a nutshell. (Those of you who truly know me can stop laughing now). So kindness is simply me getting up in the morning, saying my prayers, and going out to be generous and considerate. Easiest blog ever.
Patience. This one was going to be easy. Get the concordance, look up patience, find the reference that fits with Galatians 5:22, define the words, write a blog. So, I got my concordance, looked up patience, and to my amazement, there was no reference to the book of Galatians. So I went back to the Bible and looked for the reference word. The words it gave me to find were forbearance and longanimity. One of those words I vaguely understand, the other one I didn’t know existed. So how was I to tie this into displaying the fruit of the Spirit in marriage?
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Just a little birdy and fish about the Father's business. Helping to better the world one blog at a time.