Over the last 8 years we have asked ourselves these questions at different times, separately and together, and they have changed the purpose and trajectory of our marriage. I wanted to share them with you. I am so thankful for those that have invested in us, asked us the hard questions, and pointed us to Christ by their example and wisdom.
1. Am I living like I am the channel of God's love for my spouse?
I think so often in marriage it gets into this balancing scale of needs being met. If my needs are met or exceeded, than I treat my husband even better. If he is slacking in meeting many of my needs, I also let my serving him and enjoyment of him slack. This is a contractually based marriage. But God calls us to a covenant love with our spouse. This is a love that says even despite they way I am treated, how my needs are met, if I feel loved or pursued, I will love you and serve you with joy. Because after all, we are to "submit to our spouse out of reverence for Christ" not because he deserves it. I am the channel God chose to show John his love with arms and hands, am I living like this in our marriage?
2. What are the 5 core values of our marriage?
3. What is our purpose for our marriage and family? How are we called to uniquely serve the kingdom together?
Lets pretend someone gave us 1 million dollars and it was to be used only for kingdom purposes. How would we steward his money? What were three areas that were central to the passions of our hearts and our unique talents that we could really make an impact in? We need to give sacrificially to these areas now, despite the amount of money we have to give to these efforts. We do not want to get trapped into just vacations and schedules and not work in our purpose God has called us to. For us it has been narrowed to
1. The unreached people groups with little access to the Gospel
2. The Orphan and hunger Crisis
3. Marriage and the shaping of young adults.
These are what God has burdened our hearts for. We do not know yet to what capacity we are to serve in all of these areas, but we can feel comfortable to let these guide our giving and serving with our time. We can feel comfortable to say no to other "good things" that just simply fall outside of our calling as a family.
4. Are we holding "things" with an open hand?
I think our tendency as humans is to feel like things are ours, we have worked for them, earned them, or have possession and control over them. This can be things like cars, houses, savings accounts, even our talents, spouse and children. With that feeling of "mine/ours" only comes fear and anxiety. I remember feeling weight of fear for a season that I would lose John through sickness or an accident or something. I couldn't imagine carrying on without him. I had to surrender this because that is not from God. I am to even hold my marriage and children with an open hand. John is God's and our children are not mine, they are the Lord's. Yes I would be devastated to lose them, but I have to choose to put my hope and trust and identity in God. Not in my marriage or motherhood. This question has also been our hope to be a guide as we buy a house or car or anything major. Is our heart attached to it? If God asked us to sell it would we hesitate? Will we share it with others or hold it with a tight fist?
John has always had such a better handle on this than me. I remember after dating for about 2 weeks I hit his brand new, very nice car (in his family you have to wait until you are 18 to get a car) and I freaked out. I thought he would dump me, so I debated as I sat there in my Isuzu rodeo just fleeing the scene and dumping him over text so I wouldn't have to face it. I remember waiting outside for about 30 minutes crying and freaking out about how mad he would be. Plus people, I didn't knick the car, I actually got my suv stuck in the side door of his little sporty car and creamed the whole passenger side. Yes, it was that bad. I remember walking in his apartment bawling my eyes out and telling him after I could finally find my voice. I will never forget his reaction. "is that all that happened? That is no big deal! I am just glad you are ok! It is just a car!" What? I explained, no, this is not just a dent, come see it. He did not want to go see it, he didn't need to. He was just glad I was fine and kept saying, its just a car! That really impacted me that day. He was holding it with an open hand.
I want to hold all our "things" with this mentality. It is all God's he has let me borrow to steward for a temporary fleeting moment. And I want to steward it well. I don't want to cling to things. I want to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and let all else fade away.