As a child (and like most kids), I disliked chores and serving people.
But having my kind of parents and being the last of nine kids, chores and serving came with the territory.
I learned how to serve early in life.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I began to notice and appreciate the theme-of-sorts running through my life. It was as if right from childhood, God was refining a “gift of helps”.
As an adult, I enjoy helping people grow.
So to build a strong foundation in this area, it seems God decided to put me in a large family, smack in rural Africa, in a large farm, with no-nonsense parents and eight older siblings.
You must be wondering what this has to do with marriage.
Through the lens of the past.
Remembering my childhood reminded me how sometimes, the things that look like they were meant to kill us often end up being our greatest treasures.
When it comes to our marriages and just like I disliked serving as a child (and it took years to recognize the “gift” in it), many of us are yet to recognize the treasures that lie buried deep under the pain and disillusionment of the past.
We have tender spots, areas that our spouse has to skirt around. We live out our scars daily, and our relationship bears the brunt of it.
I doubt that we can see the gift in our past without having an open heart and honest discussion with God.
So often it feels easier to hang on to brokenness, to take on the attitude “it is what it is”, even while we hurt on the inside and wish things were different.
I’ve discovered that God doesn’t mind open discussions about our pasts (in fact He encourages it). But He doesn’t expect us to pitch tent at the discussion table.
He wants our discussion to lead to a place healing.
God does not waste experiences
Instead of using our pasts to justify our attitudes in our marriage today, I believe that we can instead chose to press through, to see the potential beauty that lies in our pain.
The first step, I believe, is to begin to open our mind to the possibility that God has a plan for our lives. That once surrendered, our experiences can serve a higher purpose (even if we don’t understand everything).
Accepting that God is sovereign, that He is just and fair and thus will make all things beautiful in His time is crucial to freedom.
From there we can then submit to the process of growth and change – letting go, forgiveness, finding health, changing thoughts and attitudes, bringing life to others.
From angst to joy
Connecting the dots (how the past has influenced the present) has helped me appreciate the sovereignty of God.
It’s seems to me that when we choose to see the gift hidden in a not-so-lovely experience, a dam of sorts breaks. We gain clarity and strength. Pain turns to joy. Small details and lessons long forgotten stir up. We become better people.
One of the things I learned from my childhood was how to obey even when I didn’t understand or agree. As a result, I have a grace and ability to follow God when I don’t understand. And this has had a huge impact on my marriage.
#40 He is warm, welcoming and accepting of my family and friends
#41 He is cautious about what he allows into our marriage and home. His sensitivity makes me feel safe.
Question – How about you, do you need to change some lenses, how you look at the past? Has your past helped you become a better spouse/person?