This topic popped into my head to write for my next blog and I tried to dismiss it. It’s not really something I wanted to write about at the moment. But it wouldn’t go away and everywhere I looked, there was something to confirm that this was the topic for the week. I’ve learned that when I’ve been praying and asking the Lord for the next thing to write about and then something consistently comes to mind, I can’t just ignore it even though I may want to. So, here goes.
One of the areas that the enemy attacked me in during my consuming reading obsession was in how I thought about my husband and our marriage. Thankfully, the enemy didn’t succeed. I didn’t like those thoughts that slipped in. They made me uncomfortable and upset me and were one of the things that helped get my feet set on solid ground again because I knew I didn’t want to go down the path where those thoughts could eventually lead.
Let me explain. I think for most avid fiction readers it is very easy for us to get caught up in the stories we read and the characters those stories are about. Which isn’t a problem when you are able to put the book down and bring your mind back to the real world and not stay in the world created by the book you’re reading. But when you read and read and put down one book and pick up another, you’re mind is often stuck in a fictional place with fictional characters. And those characters in that fictional world can begin to draw you in. You like the way they act or the things that they do or maybe how they look. You begin to set your heart and mind on all the all the things you love about the many different characters you’ve read and you start to feel a little discontent.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I love my husband and I think he’s amazing. He is so many wonderful things to me and he loves me so well that when I think about how he loves me and takes care of me and looks after me and day after day chooses me, I am blown away. But in the midst of having my mind caught up in fictional characters, the temptation was there to become discontent in my marriage. Not because my husband hadn’t met my needs or not taken care of me sufficiently because he had. That was actually something that helped me battle those thoughts. When a thought would come telling me how great some character was and the next thought tried to create discontent in me, I realized pretty quickly just how good my husband is to me. There wasn’t much chance for it to work because my husband is great. Things that the enemy tried to make me long for in something else were already being met by my husband. But that’s a whole other aspect of this. Back to where I was. The temptation was there to linger on what I liked in the characters I read a little too much.
Maybe you’re not a reader and you think that I’m crazy in thinking that there can be a temptation like this when reading. But let me ask you something. Is there a movie or TV show you love that has a character in it you might think about or fantasize about? Or maybe that’s not something you struggle with either. Maybe for you, it’s looking at a friend’s marriage/relationship with a significant other and thinking, “Why doesn’t my other half treat me like that? Why doesn’t he/she do those things for me?” Or possibly even, “I wish my guy/girl looked like that.” Maybe you miss those new love feelings that you don’t feel as strongly anymore and you want to experience that again. Whatever it is, it pulls your thoughts in a potentially dangerous direction if you linger there too long.
Those little thoughts here and there can begin to slip in and cause us to falter in our defense of our marriages. We can become envious, covetous of what the characters in a book or movie may have or what we perceive real people around us to have. Even when things are good in our marriages, temptations can still be there to focus on other people or other things. Because the enemy doesn’t want to see marriages work, especially Christian ones. And if he can get us to look at a temptation and begin to linger on it, he can get a foot hold in our marriages that could be devastating. Those things can cause us to focus on some unrealistic ideals of who we want/expect people to be and when they don’t measure up we become disillusioned with them and with our relationships. Or even when we have it “good,” lingering on a wrong thought can cause us to begin to stumble.
Are we guarding and protecting our marriages? We have to be intentional, purposeful about it. If you’re married, are you doing everything you can to protect your marriage? Or are you dabbling in some area that may harm your marriage—allowing yourself to linger on a thought here or there about something or someone else? Or are you maybe sitting back doing nothing? Not engaging in something harmful, but not really putting intentional effort into your marriage either?
We focus too often on our “feelings” in a marriage. We don’t “feel” like we’re in love or we don’t “feel” like we did when we first met and we take that as some kind of indicator that there’s a problem and we need to move on. Our feelings can be based on lies, untruths that we’re believing. How scary is that—to think that we are acting on feelings that are being influenced by lies from the enemy and that we’re allowing those often inconsistent, untruthful feelings to sway us in our marriages.
Love is so much deeper than a “feeling” that may come and go. Love is a choice. My husband chooses to love me even when he doesn’t like me or when he doesn’t “feel” all lovey dovey toward me and I choose to do the same with him. Real love, true love, Christ’s kind of sacrificial love puts others first and keeps us knit together when the enemy would tear us apart. It’s a love that is steadfast and doesn’t waver, that doesn’t give up. Don’t you want that in your marriage—a love that goes deeper than your circumstances, than your flaws and mistakes? A love that looks past those things and loves you anyway and always? God desires that for you, too.
So, how do we do this?
“When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.” ~C.S. Lewis
You can love like this with the help of your Heavenly Father. We love God and grow closer to Him and the more we do that, the more He can begin to love others through us, including our spouses. Because ultimately, only God’s love can accomplish the kind of love I mentioned above. God’s love is a deep, abiding, “knowing” love. It’s not just a “feeling” kind of love. It’s the kind of love we can depend on. It will be there even when the feelings aren’t. I know things in my knower sometimes that my feelings don’t agree with. I choose to go with my knower. I choose to go with God’s Word and believe His truth about marriage and His desire for me as a married person even though my feelings may not always line up with what I know God’s Word says to be true.
Is this something you’ve ever struggled with? Have you let something slip in in this area of your life?
I encourage you—be examples of Christ and His sacrificial, fully committed, not going anywhere kind of love instead of adding your marriage to the many casualties of the enemy’s plans to steal, kill, and destroy. Wrap your arms protectively around your marriage. Be loving. Be intentional. Stand up for your marriage. Fight for it. Be on guard. Be aware of your trouble areas. Take thoughts captive. Put safeguards in place as an individual and as a couple to protect your marriage. Choose to talk, to communicate so you can get on the same page. Talk about the tough stuff. Be real and honest with each other in your struggles. Your marriage will be strengthened by your honesty. Don’t give up. Hang on. Keep fighting. It will be worth it.