Uniquely Mi Vida

Conquered by Love

As we traveled through towns on this special occasion, after Christmas, I couldn’t help but look back and remember all that Todd and I have gone through. It has now been 27 years of wedded bliss, yet not every moment has been blissful. Marriage has gone through ups and downs, but we have conquered every bump, obstacle and hurdle.

“Why? and How?”

Many years ago, on a warm tropical afternoon, We made a vow to the one who’s love had conquered our heart. We hence, made a promise to each other to LOVE always and through it, conquer all…  

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” —Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV)

Marriage is a solid, loyal and binding commitment. It goes beyond the desires of self to commit to the other person for life, regardless of the difficulties. This LOVE for each other is stronger than steel, and when bonded with the LOVE of God it makes it, well… unbreakable.

This is not to say that there are no problems. There are. The truth is that when you get to the core of any marital issues, you will find selfishness. This is the same problem we have in our relationship with God. The self seems to be more important, and when we allow selfishness to dominate the other, we have a problem.

God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided us with the means of a strong committed marriage. It begins with the scriptures and is strengthened by the constant renewal of our relationship with God. A strong bond with God will result in a strong bond in marriage. In other words, the more in-love with God you are, the more in-love you will be with your spouse.

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My daughter with my, then, new son-in-law.

There is a lot to be said about the “Great Commandment.” It is also a marriage rule: love God with everything, and you will love others as you love yourself. Loving God helps you love yourself and others, especially your spouse. Reading the Bible not only helps us understand who GOD is, but it allows us to see the heart of God. In return we reflect His heart to others… especially in our marriage. It puts us in our place, reminding us to let things go that are not important. It reminds us to be good stewards of what God has provided, to put the other first, to love and be faithful to our spouses as we are LOVING and FAITHFUL to God. It helps us to be selfless, forgiving and compassionate. The Bible is the first guide and counseling textbook. If you have a hard time relating to what it says to your life and relationship, then there is still another “help” God provides.

Pastors and others strong Christian leaders who reflect God’s Love in their everyday lives and marriages are the second means a strong marriage. They are there to help us understand the written marital guidance of the Bible. They are the first counselors we approach. With their help we can see what needs to happen to refocus the relationship on GOD, and then, on EACH OTHER. Praying and sharing within the safety of a pastoral counseling relationship is a great stress reliever and allows us to clear our mind to what is important.

The third means that God has provided for strong marriages is the professional marriage counselor. These can come in the form of therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists. For a Christian, seeking professional help is sometimes hard. We have to be willing to accept that we need help, and maybe even need to take medications to help deal with emotional or mental problems that one may, or may not, have been aware of before marriage. We have to be cautious in finding the right person. A good Christian professional will reinforce the values that you hold, and encourage the spiritual guidance of scripture, prayer and Christian fellowship as part of the counseling.

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Our senior friends marriage

Keeping the bonds and commitment of marriage now-a-days is very difficult. Societal and cultural influences teach selfishness, individualism and quick escape from difficulties. There is a need to balance the needs of the self with the needs of others. When the “self” wants to be put first knowing that it will harm another loved one, true love is lost. This is a “red flag” that our love relationships are being destroyed. Our selfless heart should recognize it, and fight against such selfishness.

One thing that Todd and I learned over the years is to talk about and share all of our thoughts. When disagreements come we have to find a compromise that will work for both of us. If there is no way to truly compromise, then both have to evaluate the situation and resolve it on the side of causing the least harm to either person. This means there must be a willingness to let go of what we think is best for ourselves, in favor of what doesn’t hurt the other. There is much to be said about compromising, giving, and more, but it will have to wait for another time. One thing that we have learned to do often, and Todd shares when teaching, is the idea that marriage is a contest to see “who can outgive the other.” This is the idea of selflessness in practice. It is an idea that grows and strengthens the relationship with the selfless love of God, being mirrored in a selfless love in marriage.

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Renewing our vow after 21 years

I was conquered by the love of Todd many years ago. And each year has been unique. Not all have been easy, but they have all had their own unique joys and challenges. Every year we have learned to grow closer even when difficulties pulled us apart… and we held on, with God at the center of it. He always pulled us back to each other. We learned to compromise, to give into the other, to outgive each other, to forgive each other, to enjoy each other in LOVE. We pray often to be the spouses God wants us to be for the other. And because we have willingly given our heart to the other, we let the other “have” what makes them happy without harming or hurting. We are committed, loyal, faithful and true to each other now more than ever.

So as the new year starts I encourage you to find those unique ways that you can outgive the other. Find unique ways to be selfless. Remember that if you began your marriage with GOD at the center, it should always be driven by HIM. Let the Love that conquered you and united you be strengthened by God’s conquering love. This conquering LOVE will make your marriage uniquely strong and happy. This is LOVE which can only be from GOD. It is what binds us together and enables us to conquer all.

Uniquely Inspirational

Be a Column

Genesis 6:9 “This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.”

columns in old church

This past Sunday our church had a sendoff for one of the most amazing ladies that I have ever met. And though she insists she is only 35 years old, she has been blessing many, at least at our church, for 71 years. She is now moving on be nearer her family, further north. It was, as always, a bittersweet moment. I call her “One of the original 4 columns” of the church. She is, in all ways, the faithful, righteous loving person that Noah was in the Old Testament. It is hard to really explain Vicky without laughing. I mean, Vicky greets everyone with a smile, prays with a smile, and even though she sings “like a frog with a sore throat,” (her words, not mine) she worshiped with a smile. If you ask her “how are you?” she will always respond,  “I’m a blessed!” even if she is sick. Now that she is leaving, a column is missing. What do you do when you feel the church will tilt without her? So, I asked her, “Who will take your place Vicky?” Her smiling response, “Everyone.” Well, those must be some big shoes to fill if it takes everyone! Or should I say, this is “One strong column to replace!”

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Our Dear “Strong Column” along side us. (I’m the short one 🙂 )

There comes a time, in the life of the church, that we lose a strong blessed column. I don’t think people quite understand the meaning of this. The congregation is made up of parts of one body. Some body parts are absolutely essential. We worry far more about losing an eye than we do a hangnail. It is harder to replace great leaders. Often no one wants to take the previous leaders’ place. Sometimes it is because they do not know what it takes to be a leader, or simply because it is hard to allow someone to take their place. Some people feel that they are not adequate enough to lead. Some feel that they may not have the right gifts or skills to take their place. Yet, others wait for the pastor, or in my case, the pastors, to ask them. Some may think they can fill in the gap but lack the perseverance to do so or maybe they are better at laying the stones than holding up a stone. Regardless, someone needs to move forward. One thing that I believe, if God places it in your heart, you have the capacity and the humility, then step on in and hold that roof! All you need is a little training on how to hold it right… and maybe some deodorant…

The ability to hold up the church is not an easy task. One needs the affirmation and support of others, prayers and accountability. Not all columns are the same either, some are short and stout (I’m not describing myself, just so you know), others tall and lean. Others have ripples, some are smooth some elegant, some are green, some show the wear of time and so on. Regardless every one of them is unique. Every one of them have one very important job: Holding up the church.

People like Vicky stepped forward and stayed persistent in one place, because as she said, “God called me here for a reason and I stayed here through good and bad…” She was, and is, faithful throughout, regardless of the circumstances. She reminds us all that just as one spouse commits to another, individuals in the body of Christ make commitments to Him when He comes into our hearts. For all those “Vicky”s around, THANK YOU!!! For being a strong and unique column that reminds us that we as Christ’s people are here: “To have to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish…”