Day 102: Timothy Keller’s _The Meaning of Marriage_

January 10, 2012

In the course of our marriage, I’ve read many hundreds of books and articles, but until I started 365, I hadn’t read much on marriage (shame, shame). In fact, as of a week ago, I hadn’t read a single book on marriage. That’s changed. For my 102nd act of love, I read (over the course of several days) Timothy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. His book refined my view of marriage and was an excellent and interesting read.

In the coming days, I may post some of my thoughts on Keller’s book. For now, here are some things Keller said about selfishness that stood out to me:

Self-centeredness is a havoc-wreaking problem in many marriages, and it is the ever-present enemy of every marriage (56).

Self-centeredness by its very character makes you blind to your own while being hypersensitive, offended, and angered by that of others. The result is always a downward spiral into self-pity, anger, and despair, as the relationship gets eaten away to nothing (57).

If two spouses each say, “I’m going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage,” you have the prospect of a truly great marriage (65).

In light of Keller’s thoughts on selfishness, here’s a summary of what I’ve learned regarding my own selfishness through 365 Act of Love. Before 365, I was blinded by my own selfishness into thinking that I wasn’t all that bad and that you needed to turn yourself around. But 365 is changing that. I’m recognizing that selfishness is opposed to love and is death to marriage. (I knew that before, but merely intellectually.) I’m recognizing how selfish I am and the problems my selfishness causes for us. Now, I’m working (and God in me: Phil 2:12-13) to fight self-centeredness with self-sacrifice in order to reorient my heart. I know I’ve touched on these things before in this blog, but I can’t help but discuss what God’s been doing in my heart through 365.

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Day 101: Old Pictures

January 9, 2012

On Saturday, we looked at old pictures together. I wanted us to look at wedding pictures and pictures of us when we were dating, but we ended up looking at pictures of our kids when they were younger. Here was our clichéd but appropriate reaction: my, how they’ve changed!

You’re actually a tad overwhelmed with my acts of love (I don’t know why, *cough cough*). So, this week, I’m going to lay low. Maybe I’ll do some secret, small, and/or mundane acts.


100 Days, 100 Ways

January 7, 2012

After you went to bed for the night on Thursday, I told you not to come downstairs for anything so I could prepare a surprise for you. For your surprise, I first wrote out a list of 100 things I love about you (taken from day 57; you haven’t read that list yet). Then, I cut out each item from the list and stuffed a different one in each of 100 balloons and a piece of chocolate in most of them. Then, I blew up the balloons, spread them around the room, put up some streamers, and hung your flowers for the week from the center of the room:

In the morning, I woke you up and handed you a note that said, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”* Then I told you to go look at your surprise. When you walked into the living room, you shrieked with delight. When I told you that each balloon had a love note in it, you said “awww!” and hugged me for a while.

Our oldest daughter came downstairs, but she was so tired that she walked right through the balloons, cleared a space on the couch, then lay down. After she was more alert, I told her that the balloons had chocolate in them. So, she started inspecting balloon after balloon to determine what kind of chocolate each had. Once, she picked up one of the balloons without chocolate and said, “Hey, this one only has a note in it. That’s not very interesting.”

Finally, I woke up our two year old and told her to go downstairs to see a big surprise. She crawled out of bed and said, “Okay, but first I’m going to do a summersault.” (There’s a girl with her priorities straight!) So, she did a summersault and went downstairs. When she saw the balloons, she did a double take, then ran into the room and started laughing and throwing them into the air.

For most of the morning, we all kicked balloons around, made balloon angels, and beamed with delight. It looked a bit like this. At one point, we even made a balloon pit out of our furniture and buried the girls in it. Since then, you’ve popped a few of the balloons to read their notes and each time you do, you give me a very nice hug.

By the way, I’ll still love you even if each of those 100 things that I love about you changes.

*Strictly speaking, I should’ve given you a note that said something like, “What do I love about thee? Let me count,” but that doesn’t have the ring to it that Browning’s line does.


C. S. Lewis Quote

January 6, 2012

I came across this quote from Mere Christianity and thought it captured some of what I’m trying to do through this blog, i.e., to commit loving acts for you in order to increase my love for you:

Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less. There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his ‘gratitude’, you will probably be disappointed. (People are not fools: they have a very quick eye for anything like showing off, or patronage.) But whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more or, at least, to dislike it less.


Day 99: Sunset at the Beach, Attempt #2

January 6, 2012

I tried to make up for missing the sunset on day 98 by taking you to the beach at sunset yesterday. I envisioned us having a tender moment watching the sunset while the kids played in the sand. That didn’t happen. Instead, we took one of my best friends along with us and I talked to him the entire time the sun went down while you watched the kids. Lame-o! (It’s my fault, not his. I could’ve enjoyed a moment with you while talking to him.) I can’t really call what I did an act of love, so let’s throw this in the fail bin and move on. Some day I’ll make this sunset-at-the-beach thing work out.

We had a great time with my friend, though, and we’re so glad he came to visit us.


Day 98: Suspects and Muppets

January 5, 2012

After work yesterday, I asked you if you wanted to go the beach with me (and the kids) to watch the sunset. You said yes. As we walked out the door, we spotted police officers pinning a man to the ground and a police helicopter circling overhead (I thought we lived in a good neighborhood!). While the officers struggled to handcuff the suspect, he taunted them. Eventually, six cop cars showed up to take care of him. We ended up missing the sunset because we weren’t comfortable leaving the house with everything going on.

Instead, we waited until everything settled down, grabbed some dinner, then went to the drive-in theater to watch The Muppets. I think we ruined the ambience of the drive-in for some of the couples there when we pulled in with our minivan and three wound-up kids. Still, if our presence there forced them to watch the movie, that’s good: it was stupendously funny!

What a contrast in our day between manic suspects and screwy Muppets–mahna mahna, that’s life!


Day 97: TJ’s Chocolate

January 4, 2012

On our way home from our friends’ house last night, I stopped by Trader Joe’s one minute before they closed. I bought a dark chocolate candy bar, then hid it in my back pocket. When I came out empty handed, you didn’t even ask me what was going on.

At home, I stuck it under your kindle, then waited “patiently” for you to find it. About five minutes later, I gave up on surprising you and told our oldest daughter to tell you to pick up your kindle. You did and found your chocolate. I asked you if you were curious about why I came out of Trader Joe’s empty handed. You said that you knew something was going on, and that you just needed to wait and see.


Day 96: Beauty

January 3, 2012

Last night, I read you this poem by John Masefield:

I have seen dawn and sunset on moors and windy hills
Coming in solemn beauty like slow old tunes of Spain;
I have seen the lady April bringing the daffodils,
Bringing the springing grass and the soft warm April rain.

I have heard the song of the blossoms and the old chant of the sea,
And seen strange lands from under the arched white sails of ships;
But the loveliest thing of beauty God ever has shown to me,
Are her voice, and her hair, and eyes, and the dear red curve of her lips.

When I finished, you said that I was sweet to read you that poem. Then you told me that the things I said in your letter were things you prayed I would realize. Then, you asked me to read the letter to you. That would’ve been nice, but I refused because I was too embarrassed (but I wasn’t embarrassed to read you this poem? Odd.). I should read it to you if that’s what you’d like.


Day 95: Surprise Dessert

January 3, 2012

On Sunday, we celebrated New Year’s by eating at Chili’s. After we finished our food, I excused myself from the table, approached the hostess, and asked her for a pen and paper. When she gave me them, I wrote this on the paper: “Just because I love you. –Chauncey” (Let “Chauncey” be my alias for the blog. Let’s call you “Francine.”) Then, I approached our server with the note and asked her to bring us the brownie and ice cream dessert with my note placed on the side.

When I returned to my seat, you asked me what I did. I shrugged my shoulders. You jokingly whispered, “You got up just to flirt with the server then?” I whispered in response, “That depends on which server you’re talking about.” (I know—those are terrible jokes.) Then you said, “Seriously, what were you up to?” I laughed nervously and my face turned red. The server honestly took 10 minutes to bring out that dessert and you grilled me the entire time. I nearly gave up the surprise to make you stop.

When our dessert finally arrived, you said, “Oh, Chauncey! You did this for me?! Look girls, dad bought us a dessert just because he loves us!” As you girls were eating the dessert, I asked if I could have some. You said, “Oh, did you buy this because you love yourself?” I said, “Didn’t you read the note? It says ‘Just because I love you, Chauncey.’” You laughed as you handed me a spoon.

When we got into the car, you leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “I’m happy out of my tree that you did that for me, but I’m happier that you’re teaching our girls how guys should treat them.” As you said this, I reached around you and tapped you on the head with the book I was holding (yes, I see the irony in that). You grabbed the book from me, smacked me on the head (notice the lack of proportionality in your response), and said, “Are you ever serious? . . . Really, though, thanks for the dessert.” You’re welcome, Francine.


Day 94: A Prayer for 2012

January 2, 2012

For my 94th act of love, I composed a prayer for us for 2012:

I pray, Father, that in 2012 you would increase my wife’s and my love for you, for each other, and for others. May we love and desire you above all else. Help us to hate evil and cling to good (Rom. 5:9). I pray that our love would bring unity to our marriage, and that we would cast enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and envy far from us. May we live by the Spirit (Gal. 5:20).

Work love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control into our hearts (Gal. 5:22-23).  May we be patient, kind, humble, slow to anger, others centered, and forgiving (I Cor. 13). Help us live in purity of thought and action (I Thess. 4:3-5). I pray that we would continually dwell on those true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy things (Phil. 4:8).

As you work love into our hearts, I pray it would overflow in the giving of ourselves—our time, energy, money, etc.—to those in need. I pray that we’d look to each other’s interests as well as the interests of others (Phil. 2:4). May we be children of God without blemish, shining as lights in the world (Phil. 2:15).

I pray that we would not lose heart, but would press on by your grace in 2012 (Phil. 3:14). In all this, may we please and glorify you (I Thess. 4:1). Amen.