On Saturday morning (8/4), I went to a seminar at a local church on being a good husband and father. I was greatly challenged and encouraged and walked away with a renewed desire to become a better husband to you and father to our children. Specifically, I was convicted to be more consistent about teaching our children about God and praying with you. In addition, I met other husbands/fathers who were passionate about doing their best in their roles as such.
For this week, I reread a chapter from Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage called “Loving the Stranger.” Keller talked about things a person can do to love his/her spouse even as the initial passion of their relationship fades and his/her spouse changes over time. Though he had much more to say, he claims (and I agree) that love needs to be sustained by a deliberate choice to love.
My realization of the importance for our marriage of making the daily choice to love you lead to the formation of this blog and helped to sustain it. I don’t know that I could’ve made it this far in this project without that realization.
On Thursday (8/2) when I came home from work, I was tired beyond belief. I wanted to rest, but knew that there was no way to do that while the kids were up and I knew that I couldn’t do it when they went to bed because the house needed to be cleaned.
“This is ridiculous!” I thought. “There must be some time during a given day that I can just relax.” After thinking through some possibilities, I came up with a plan. I decided that we should have daddy and mommy breaks in which we take turns taking evenings off. I proposed it to you and you loved the plan. “Why don’t you take the first evening off?” I asked. “At the kids’ bedtime, I’ll put them to sleep and you can do whatever you want for the rest of the evening. I’ll even clean the house. Tomorrow night, I’ll take my break.” “That sounds good,” you replied.
Around 8, I realized just how tired I was. “What if I take tonight and you take tomorrow?” I asked. “Sure,” you said. With that, I lay on the couch, fell asleep, and didn’t get up until the morning. It was great!
My act of love was giving you your break the next day, so technically, I did 309 on Friday. I hope we can do these daddy/mommy breaks frequently.
Chapter 6 of The Power of a Praying Husband concerned praying for and fostering a good marriage. Omartian talked about the importance of love, fidelity, respect, quality time, and communication for a marriage. It was encouraging to read this chapter, because I’ve grown and placed more importance in each of these areas over the course of the last year. I prayed that God would continue to grow me in each of these areas and that he would help us build a great marriage.
Here’s something related. At the beginning of 365 Acts of Love, we had an informal counseling session with a couple in our church in order to talk through some issues in our marriage. During that session, I mentioned that our marriage was about average, thinking that the other couple would be okay with that. They weren’t. They encouraged me to strive for an excellent marriage, one that would serve as an example to many.
That really hit me. Why would I think that having an average marriage is acceptable? I think it’s because I knew that a great marriage takes work and I wanted to focus my energies on other things that I considered more gratifying, like work and exercise. Now that I’ve focused on building an excellent marriage, an excellent relationship with you, pleasing you brings me gratification (though I still really enjoy exercise and my job).
Below is my final guest post for Power of the Home. I hope you enjoy it!
For this final post, I’d like to discuss some of the ways that 365 Acts of Love has shaped my relationship with and understanding of God.
(1) First off, through 365 Acts of Love, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of Christ’s sacrifice for me. Before 365, I could tell you all about Christ’s sacrifice—what he accomplished through it, what that meant for me, how that should affect the way I live, etc. I even had an idea of what it was like for him to go through such a sacrifice since I myself had made some (minor) self-sacrifices.
But through 365, I sacrificed more deeply for another person than I ever had before. It forced me to make huge changes to my day, and even my lifestyle, in order to love my wife. Those sacrifices gave me a deeper experiential knowledge of the nature of sacrifice, and consequently, a deeper understanding of what Christ went through in dying for myself and others.
Furthermore, the personal and tangible nature of my sacrifices made me realize how personal and tangible Christ’s 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, mine are negligible. Even so, Christ’s sacrifice for me has become more real as I’ve experienced some of the pain (and joy) of serving my wife.
(2) I’ve grown deeper in my relationship with God. Because 365 is such a huge project, I’ve really had to rely on God to get through it. As part of that, I’ve been driven to prayer over and over and over this year which in turn has drawn me closer to God. I’m not saying that my relationship with him is perfect: I have such a long way to go that it’s not even funny (seriously, I’m not laughing right now). But at least I’ve made some progress.
(3) Finally, 365 Acts of Love has helped me view God less as an abstract, impersonal object and more as a person.
Before I explain this, allow me to give you a little of my backstory. I grew up in a Christian home, but it took me a while to make my faith my own. When I got to college, I realized that I didn’t have much evidence for thinking that Christianity is true. Naturally, doubts about my belief system cropped up in my mind. I eventually realized that I needed to investigate the truth claims of Christianity for myself to determine whether or not I should keep believing in it.
After much investigation, which involved some serious sacrifices of time and money for my wife and me, it seemed to me that Christianity was true. So I continued to believe in it. Even so, accepting it had more to do with accepting certain propositions as true than it did with developing a relationship with God. Furthermore, I think I (unintentionally) viewed God himself as more of a proposition or a concept than a person.
Over time, though, God became more personal to me as I attempted to grow closer to him. This relates to my blog in the following way. 365 Acts of Love expedited my transition from viewing God as a concept to viewing him as a person. It seems that a catalyst for this change stemmed from the fact that I began to view my wife more like a person, which was a result of 365 Acts of Love. Basically, 365 forced me to treat my wife with more respect and show her more love—that is, it forced me to treat her more like a person. As it did this, I began viewing her more like a person. And somehow, this affected my view of God. I really began to see him as someone with reason and emotions and desires and a will, as someone I could relate to. I don’t know why the change in perspective toward my wife changed my perspective of God, but it did.
Overall, I can’t believe how far-reaching the effects of 365 Acts of Love have been. And I’m sure it has been more effective than I realize and will continue affecting things for the better. I’m so thankful that I chose to do it.
On Monday, after all the chaos of the preceding 24 hours, I gave you my full attention for 15 minutes while I listened to you talk. But I didn’t tell you that I was doing this. I simply asked you to tell me how you were feeling. You didn’t need coaxing, but really let loose, which was a change from day 41.
You spilled your guts about our experience in the ER and at the dentist, how you were feeling, how you felt bad for our daughter, how we both learned much from her calm reaction to the situation, how you were glad we had doctors we could trust and good insurance, how you weren’t sure how to deal with our daughter’s change of appearance, how you weren’t sure how she would deal with it, how you were concerned about the way other kids would react to her, etc., etc., etc. An hour later I think you said all you needed to say. I didn’t say two sentences the entire time. Neither did my mind wander. You had my complete attention.
I’m happy that I served as a listening ear. I’m happy that we got through our daughter’s emergency together.
On Sunday (7/29), I had an act planned–I intended to give you 15 minutes to talk about whatever you wanted while I gave you my full attention. I’d done this before. I wanted to do it again because I’ve been convicted lately about my listening habits (I’ve written much about this).
However–and this is a big however–as soon as I parked the car at our place, you informed me by cell phone that our oldest daughter had smashed her teeth on the bathtub and that we needed to take her to the emergency room. So, we took her.
She was brave in the ER, much more so than us. The doctor told us that he couldn’t do anything but that we should see a dentist in the morning. By Monday afternoon, we had a daughter with four less teeth, stitched-up gums, and an adorable new smile.
I did manage to commit my act of love on Sunday, though. Late, late on Sunday night (Monday morning, really), I Facebooked you a message telling you that you handled the teeth situation well and that you acted bravely. When you read this, I think it really affected you because you kept thanking me for the note and saying that you didn’t know why I thought you were so brave because you felt like a wreck the entire night.
On Friday (7/27), I told you that I’m glad I married you. You said the same thing back.