Day 124: Household Projects

January 31, 2012

I’m notoriously bad at doing special household projects. Sure, I do my share of cleaning, but some projects I leave undone for months. That’s why I asked you on day 107 to make a list of projects or whatever that you need me to do. You gave me that list on Sunday and yesterday I completed one of its items. I’m hoping to complete every item on the list in the coming weeks, but I’m not making any promises: the proof of the pudding is in the eating.



Day 123: Love is Patient

January 30, 2012

As I’ve discussed before, in order to better act lovingly toward you, I need to foster a loving character in myself (through Christ working in me: Jn. 15:1-8; Phil. 2:13-14). One way of doing this is by thinking over, praying about, and exercising love or one of its characteristics.

In light of this, yesterday I did so regarding patience, since love is patient. First, I considered the nature of patience and what it is to act patiently. Then, I prayed that God would afford me opportunities to act patiently and that he would give me the grace to do so when those opportunities arose. Then, I waited for the opportunities. Given that we have three young kids, there were opportunities aplenty. I know that developing character takes time, practice, and grace, but at least yesterday was a step in the right direction.

On a related note, I don’t think I’ve ever prayed for patience before, partly because I’m scared of what circumstances God might use to foster patience in me. After all, suffering is a great vehicle for character growth (Rom. 5:4). But, after years of stifled growth, I’m slowly accepting that the benefits of character growth outweigh the hardships brought on by this vehicle (though I say this as one who hasn’t suffered much). Then again, I’m not waiting for suffering with open arms. Instead, I’m asking God to do with my life what he deems best. Even so, I’m asking reluctantly, which is odd since God’s in a decent position to know what’s best.

Day 122: Acting in Light of Your Needs

January 29, 2012

Typically, I plan a week’s worth of acts at a time, which keeps the stress levels of this blog to a minimum. Some days, though, I don’t have an act planned. By the time 11 PM rolls around on those days, I’m usually still considering what act to do. Not fun.

Anyway, yesterday I decided not to plan a particular act, but to do whatever act seemed most appropriate in light of your needs. In other words, I decided to wait for a need of yours to arise, then to meet it.

As it turned out, you needed someone to save you from me. I woke up with a bad attitude that persisted through much of the day. I just couldn’t shake it, mainly because I didn’t want to. Instead, I wanted to pity myself because of my challenging circumstances at work. While grocery shopping with you guys that afternoon, I realized I was ruining everyone’s good time, and so, that your most pressing need was for me to change my attitude.

After grocery shopping, then, I took us all to a playground so we could have some fun together. More importantly, though, I changed my attitude. The day turned out fairly well, even if my work circumstances remained the same. Which is curious, because I thought for sure that sulking about would really turn things around. So much for that tactic.

Day 121: Sunset-at-the-Beach Success

January 28, 2012

I finally successfully executed the sunset-at-the-beach act. This time, there were no thugs being tackled on our doorstep and no best friend to distract me from you. We did take along our kids, but that wasn’t a problem: they played in the sand while we talked and watched the sunset. We didn’t take a picture, though everything was beautiful and still. Later, you mentioned to me how great it was that I thought of taking you guys there and how meaningful the experience.

Day 120: Soli Deo Gloria

January 27, 2012

Yesterday afternoon, we decided to clean our kitchen and living room, with me opting for the former and you the latter. Before we started, though, you went upstairs to lay the baby down. 30 minutes later, you still hadn’t come back. So I crept upstairs to confirm my suspicion that you’d fallen asleep. You had. For my act of love, then, I let you sleep and I cleaned the kitchen and the living room myself.

It wouldn’t be hard to guess how this scenario would likely have played out a year ago. I probably would have woken you up so that you could do your job or let you sleep but made sure you cleaned later. In either case, though, I might have suspected that you fell asleep intentionally (love believes the best, anyone?) and even subtly accused you of that.

Now though, my thoughts are less and less about how to satisfy my needs and desires (though they are about that, which isn’t necessarily bad) and more and more about how to satisfy your needs and desires.* Throughout my day, my thoughts consistently and automatically turn toward you. I’m also gaining a clearer understanding of what it is that God requires of me as a husband, the purpose for which he designed marriage, what things please you, what kind of person you are and want to be, etc.

In addition, I’m happier and I desire you more. Sure, there are times when I do things for you purely from a sense of duty. But, week by week, my obligations and feelings (i.e., desires and emotions) are lining up. As a newlywed, I had strong (positive!) feelings for you and a sense of duty to commit to you and treat you well, but lacked a firm character underlying my feelings. Then I went through a time in which my feelings waned and my sense of duty remained, while my character slowly developed (due in part, it seems, to my commitment to you). Through 365, I’m happy to be in a place where my character is developing and feelings for you are welling up from that character.

But don’t get me wrong. Even though there’s been change, I’m far from where I need to be. Though my thoughts are less about me than they were, they’re still mostly about me. I’m still entrenched in false beliefs, whether dispositional or occurrent, about who sits on the throne of my life. My desires and emotions continually favor me over God, you, or others. I’m sick of it. What’s worse, though, is that I’m absolutely certain that I’m blind to most of my selfishness. (But it’s by God’s grace that I am and that he reveals my sin to me little by little, since I might despair if I saw it in full view.*)

I’m not going to kid myself, then. 120 days isn’t going to reverse dispositions long established. And while working on my marriage is good, many other aspects of my life and character need transformation. Yet, I’m making progress, however slight.

I chalk this progress up to the grace of God. It’s all by his grace. It’s by grace alone. Grace, grace, grace. Grace. The impetus for working out my relationship with you is God working in me (Phil. 2:12-13). In other words, without God’s work in me, there would be no heart change.

Soli Deo Gloria

*Obviously this doesn’t exhaust my daily thought life. My primary goal is to make God the consistent and automatic object of my thought.

*I got this point from Keller.

Day 119: Holding Your Hand

January 26, 2012

Yesterday was a good day at work. I got some good results from my work, but those results required a huge mental push on my part. When we finally put the girls to bed, it was all I could do to sit on the couch (I thought I might get sick). For my act of love, then, I simply held your hand (and the baby) while you watched one of your shows.


Day 118: 365’s Proper Place

January 25, 2012

I gave myself a break yesterday by doing an act that required minimal effort. You went to your parents’ house with our kids, while I stayed home and worked. When you came home, I told you I missed you and that I wish we could’ve spent the day together. That was my act of love. It didn’t rock your world, but you appreciated it.

I want to be consistent with 365 because I think it’s going to have a lasting influence on our marriage, but I also want to live a balanced life. Work is throwing me off enough with all the hours I currently need to put in, so I can’t let 365 get in the way of my relationship with God and others or of proper rest and exercise.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if 365 consumed so much of my time and energy that I neglected my relationship with you to maintain it? It’s simply a tool. I shouldn’t make it more than that. So far, I haven’t sacrificed (much) time with you or others. Instead, I’ve sacrificed some sleep and exercise (I’m attempting to remedy that). And at one point, I neglected my walk with God. But overall, 365’s been the most intrusive in forcing me to reorient my heart so that it’s less self-centered. That’s a good thing.

Day 117: A Hidden Message

January 24, 2012

For my 117th loving act, I fell asleep on the couch to the TV. (That might be hereditary: my parents haven’t finished a movie in years.) Actually, I did fall asleep, so I had to do yesterday’s act this morning.

For that act, I highlighted particular words in one of your magazines to form a love letter. I felt a little like John Nash (or the portrayal of him in A Beautiful Mind) as I combed your magazine trying to “discover” a secret message. When you find the note, I’ll write about your reaction.

My letter may seem odd (because it is), but I worked with what I had:

I heart you. I have joy in you. You are better than a beautiful picture and more valuable than the finest gold.

We are a unity. We recognize that dedication and faithfulness [to each other] comes as a direct result of his [God’s] grace. We give him all the glory.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “A legacy of money is not honoring (but good for raising goats!). The sacrifice and devotion of a dude are a lasting contribution.”

The past reminds us where we have been, so that we know where we are going. [Let us] head to care and fellowship and service to one another.

I love that you’re my wife.

Disclaimer: I wouldn’t pass around that Roosevelt quote. Although, it might end up on Wikipedia; then you’d be safe using it.

Day 116: Reflections on Sacrifice

January 24, 2012

On Sunday, I spent a long day at church, then had to work for several more hours when I came home. I didn’t want to commit my act of love for the day because I was so tired. The only thing that compelled me to commit it was my desire to be consistent with 365.

So, between working at church and home, I trudged up the stairs, bleached the bathtub, and prepared a bath for you. You didn’t want a bubble bath, so I left out the bubbles, but I did light a fragrant candle and place it by the tub.

I planned on watching the baby while you took your bath, but the baby was asleep, so my job was easy–to let you take your bath in peace. You did. You also gave yourself a pedicure. Then you came downstairs refreshed and relaxed.

365’s forced me to make changes to my day, and even my lifestyle, in order to show you (however imperfectly) love and kindness. These sacrifices, though momentary and light, have prompted me to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice for me. The personal and tangible nature of my (small) sacrifices has made me realize how personal and tangible his sacrifice was. Christ, a real person, gave up his position in heaven to suffer and die in space and time on my behalf. He felt the pain of whips, the weight of the cross, and the sting of nails; the pain of wrath, the weight of sin, and the sting of betrayal. Compared to his sacrifice, (understatement alert!) mine is negligible. But the point is, Christ’s love for me has become more real as I’ve felt some of the pain (and joy: more on that later) of serving you.

What’s more, my deeper understanding of Christ’s sacrifice for me has resulted in my greater desire to sacrifice for you. I suspect this cycle will continue—as I serve you more, I’ll understand better how Christ served me (my Lord served me? How unthinkable!), which understanding will compel me to serve you more.

Day 115: Watching My Tongue

January 21, 2012

Something I struggle with, especially in our home, is keeping my tongue at bay. I sometimes say mean things (whether intentionally or not), sometimes annoying things, sometimes frivolous things. Today I attempted to refrain from saying things that don’t build you up (Eph. 4:29). Dang! it was tough. I realized how much I say that tests your patience. You’re astounding, though, because you typically respond in gentleness and with patience. Although one day doesn’t form a habit, at least I’m more aware of how I use my words in our home.