Are you getting a lot of junk mail lately? We sure are!
We’re receiving ads to all kinds of things we don’t need or want. Specifically, we receive SO MANY invitations to “vacation opportunities” and more that we could never afford. And now it’s even worse, with elections coming up again soon. We’re so tired of throwing out all those glossy advertisements, flyers, and catalogues. We feel like we’re being bombarded by it all! It’s just too much!
And what a huge waste of resources! We don’t even look through most of them; we just throw them out.
And we hate doing that; but quickly throwing them out is better than allowing them to tempt us. Plus, the accumulation of it all would make one big, confusing mess. It wouldn’t take long before it would fill up our home and take over.
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But we were thinking—what about marital junk mail that tries to invade our thoughts? What about stinking thinking that tries to enter into our minds? We’re talking about the kind that can distort our thoughts about our spouse and our marital relationship. Isn’t that similar to all that physical junk mail?
And wouldn’t those garbage thoughts eventually take over and push our relationship focus in a “messy” direction? Can’t it shove out the good thoughts that we might otherwise have about each other? All of this could feed into discontentment.
There’s no doubt that problems and troubles will always try to invade our marriages. We’re even told in 1 Corinthians 7:28, “Those who marry will have worldly troubles.” So, God tells us that we WILL experience troubles in our marriages. But do we have to feed the fire of those troubles with junk-filled thoughts?
This reminds us of something that Christa Rose Bartlett wrote in an article titled, Marriage Junk Mail:
“I picture the junk mail of marriage as Satan’s propaganda of fulfillment found outside of God. His intended audience is couples with weaknesses that he can exploit; his goal is distraction from what’s important. And just like those endless brochures and sweepstakes offers—marriage junk mail targets our natural dissatisfaction.
“Why do we grasp at anything but God when our marriages demand work? The mental junk we squirrel away becomes a twisted comfort: a good-looking colleague’s compliment, a competitive couple’s misfortune, an intrusive in-law’s embarrassment,” and more.
“Sometimes we grab onto unhealthy comfort and feed thoughts we just shouldn’t. We forget about the grace God gives us and hold back on giving the grace we should give to our marriage ‘partner.'”
Social Media Junk Mail
Selena Frederick brings up a similar point, as it relates to social media and how it can feed us junk. It’s posted in a Fiercemarriage.com article titled, Is Social Media Causing Sin in Your Marriage? Selena makes the point:
“Social media allows us to show pieces of our lives —and only the ones we choose to show, which are often just the greatest pieces and moments. This is not a bad thing. However, the trouble begins when we start perceiving these as reality and not simply beautiful moments in time.
“Too many times I stumble into coveting something in that person’s life. (To covet is to want something someone else has. Yeah, it’s a sin and part of the 10 Commandments.) Be it peace, financial wealth, cute clothes, a husband who intentionally thinks about cooking dinner or bringing home flowers…whatever it is, I somehow find myself comparing and coveting (which is a sin!).”
And it is. Yet we often give life to thoughts, which we shouldn’t. As a result, they are given the power to cause problems in our marriages.
A Lesson Learned Concerning Junk Mail Thoughts
Several years ago, the Lord showed me (Cindy) this same principle. I was grabbing onto junk mail thoughts —ones I shouldn’t have entertained, concerning my husband, Steve. I started to see everything about him in a negative light. (Actually, I’ve since learned that this is quite a common occurrence in marriages.) Eventually it began to push his good qualities out of my sight. And I allowed it to happen. I allowed junk mail thoughts to build up in my mind, which in turn distorted my perception of my husband.
But God used the scriptures found in Philippians 4:8-9 to remind me where I truly WAS to place my focus:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
As I changed (and continue to change) my focus, which took (and takes) a lot of intentionality, God’s peace enters in. But when I grab onto any type of stinking thinking, that peace fades away.
Does that mean that we should just focus on the positive all the time and never address troubling issues? Of course not! Sometimes we need to work through our messy issues. It’s important to find ways to “marry” our differences so they work for us, rather than against us. Marriage is NOT easy; but it can be good—very good.
However, we do need to let go of that, which we have no control over, and hand over that, which only God can help us to accomplish. And sometimes that means getting out of God’s way, ducking, and letting God take care of the issue. (After all, He IS our spouse’s Holy Spirit, and we are not. May we never forget that!) It’s important to use the wisdom God will give us as we ask for it.
As Cindy and I were talking about this Marriage Insight idea I started thinking about the Junk Mail-Stinking Thinking things I’ve brought into our marriage. Some could have destroyed our marriage. And they nearly did. (Actually, it still could, if I give into that type of toxicity.)
The main one, which I talked at length about in our book, was my “secret” porn addiction. It’s ironic how we think we keep things like this a secret when scripture is clear, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23). From my pre-teen years and into my adult life I lived under the delusion that only “I” knew about this. But after I came to Christ, I knew that, “God knew” all too well what was going on. And eventually Cindy became aware of my struggles, which led her to pray for my deliverance, too.
Eventually, God led me to pick up the book, Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. For some reason everything they said resonated with me. Through a long series of making wiser choices through God’s promptings, this led me to deliverance. To this day I have lived in this freedom thanks to God delivering me from this stinking thinking.
This has also helped me to recognize more easily when the enemy of our faith tries to deliver other types of junk mail into my thoughts to confuse and try to get my eyes off the Lord’s way of thinking and relating to Cindy. I encourage you to ask God to help you recognize when junk mail thoughts try to invade your life so you can discard them and don’t give energy to them.
Note These Cautions When We’re Tempted by Stinking Thinking:
• It’s important to speak the “truth in LOVE” rather than using sarcasm, cynicism, and/or contempt. It makes a difference in how we deliver the message! Just because something meaner comes into our mind, it doesn’t mean we have to let it come out our mouth. Be kind. Throw out any type of mean-spirited, revengeful marital junk mail.
“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” (Proverbs 17:27)
• It is wise to use the H.A.L.T. Method when we need to discuss important matters. Do not approach our spouse if they (or we) are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Instead, flee from those types of tempting “opportunities” to release our thoughts. Wait until the timing is better.
“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23)
• We should wisely choose our words so we aren’t dumping out from our mouths more than we should say. We’re told in God’s word:
“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)
So, be careful not to flood our spouse with too many words; sometimes less is more.
• It’s wise to talk with God before talking with our spouse about volatile matters. It could end up in yelling. So, pray about anything that has the potential to bring more drama into the situation than is needed. Also, beware of being too historical; don’t bring up old issues that should not be resurrected. We’re told:
“Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.” (Proverbs 11:29)
• Make sure we don’t feed our stinking thinking thoughts. Trouble can all start with our thoughts. Remember:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
And the best way to renew your mind is by regularly reading and lining up your actions with biblical truths.
• Work with God to dig for the gold. Look for that, which is “admirable.” When it’s possible, focus on the good, rather than throwing around the dirt. It helps them to trust us that we actually are their “partner” who cares, rather than their opponent.
“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” (Proverbs 24:3-4)
So, that’s our challenge to you, as it is for us. Don’t grab onto bad attitudes, discontentment, envy, and strife. It is a form of marital junk mail.
Look for the good in your spouse, even if you have to ask God for the eyes to see it beyond the messy stuff. If you do, you will eventually find it.
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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