It is OH SO EASY to see the weaknesses in other people. If we aren’t careful, our brains can size someone up based on their lack of social I.Q., the way their insecurity shows in their nervous little laugh, and their glaring sin. But wait … does that mean it is easy for them to see the weaknesses in me?
Of course, other people are aware of my faults and yours.
I know! Big ouch.
Are you open and honest about your flaws and struggles?
There were a few decades of my life when my heart and mind sounded the panic alarm if someone hinted at my faults. My life’s work was to be good and make sure everyone thought I was good. Yes, it was exhausting!
When I divorced my first husband, I tried to keep my “good” persona intact by pointing out all of his flaws as my reason to leave. The only responsibility I took for our problems was my poor ability to choose a good spouse.
“It’s not my fault” was harder to prove when my next marriage got hard. I started imagining how people would react to hearing I had divorced twice. I knew my “good” image would take a hit. I was at a crossroads. I had a choice to focus on what I disliked about my husband or begin addressing my own heart.
I looked for help in Stormie Omartian’s The Power of a Praying Wife, and this is what I found: “Lord, give my husband a new wife, and let it be me.” That simple, one-sentence prayer helped me face my own pride.
A Great Spouse Admits Imperfection
I would love to help you avoid being a major contributor to marital distress, the way I was.
It’s just this simple: Admit to yourself and to God that you have a pride problem and an aptitude for bitterness.
If you are not aware of your pride and bitterness, simply ask God to reveal it to you. I know from experience that this is a prayer He is thrilled to answer. His heart is to defend you, protect you, shield you and prosper you. He knows pride is the precursor to major disasters in marriage (Proverbs 16:18). He is the Savior of marriages and wants to help you succeed.
The Bible reinforces the concept of renewing our minds several times. The need for a renewed mind implies imperfection, doesn’t it? Everyone needs help thinking what is true, honorable and pure (Philippians 4:8).
In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul tells you and me (not those other socially inept people) how to maintain unity and peace. He advises exercising humility, gentleness and patience, and bearing with each other in love. We will fail at this over and over until we are “renewed in the spirit of your minds”(verse 24).
My natural tendency to look at the speck in my husband’s eye instead of the log in my own had to be wrestled to the ground. The steady stream of bitter poison flowing from my unforgiving heart had to be turned off. I had to choose to close the door to the flow of ideas from the marriage destroyer, and open the door to the wisdom of the marriage Savior.
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace (Romans 8:6).
I was finally aware of just how toxic those thoughts were to our relationship. I began to practice confessing to God each judgmental thought as it came up. Then I would ask for God’s forgiveness. My side of the conversation with God would go something like this:
“God, I know that thought about David was not from You. Please forgive me. I forgive David” (when forgiving him was necessary).
Within minutes another dishonoring thought would race across the movie screen of my mind. Every time I chose confession and forgiveness, I found it easier to resist the thought.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
Windshield Wipers and Storms
Relationship storms are as sure and unpredictable as the thunderstorms that frightened us as kids. Today we drive through storms to get where we want to go, and we use our windshield wipers to see our way through the storm.
The Manufacturer of your life and Insurer of your joy provides confession and forgiveness to aid you in seeing through the storm. As windshield wipers cast down the pouring rain, confessing our sin and asking for forgiveness casts down the imaginations designed to separate us from God and the good life He offers.
Begin prayerfully preparing your heart for a peace-filled and humble marriage. The next time you find yourself rehearsing the faults of others, remember to turn on the windshield wipers of your mind. Invite God to make you ready for marriage by renewing your mind with humility instead of pride.
Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10).