Thanksgiving is a time to especially sit back and be thankful for all God has given us. Even in the little things, we’d best not take them for granted, but in “ALL things give thanks.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, we’re told to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Thanksgiving leads to grace living.
That, which we perceive to be good, and even that which we never wanted —can ALL be good. It can ALL be used by God to bring good in some way if we look for and follow His leading. Sometimes it’s a VERY difficult thing to do —to be thankful even in the sting of things. But it’s truly the best way to live. Ultimately, we’ll benefit from living that way. I’m looking around and sure see evidence of it all around.
Thanksgiving Leads to Grace Living
But what I’m also seeing is that when we live in the view of thanksgiving we will step into “grace living.” In other words, as I look to Jesus as my savior AND my Lord, I will see more to be thankful for. I will then extend grace (unmerited favor) upon my husband because of the grace God extends to me every day.
I won’t be so quick to pick my husband apart with my unmet “expectations.” Instead, I will give him more grace and space in our everyday lives together. And those unmet expectations won’t take us into a downward spiral in our marriage where eventually the “bad” discolors all the good and things will look to be hopeless.
My husband isn’t perfect and neither am I. I shouldn’t expect more from him than I want for myself. I want him to overlook my “mistakes” (sins), idiosyncrasies, and “clueless” times when I don’t meet his needs. And yet I’m not as quick to do the overlooking when it comes to some of HIS “mistakes” and clueless times. Something is wrong with the whole picture, if I really look at it with two-way lenses —out and within.
No One’s Perfect
I’ve heard many spouses start their sentences with, “I know I’m not perfect and I don’t do everything I should, but…” and then they rattle off things their spouse does that isn’t perfect either. But they’re somehow “inexcusable.”
Yes, there are some things that can’t be overlooked. If there are moral failings, integrity issues, or abusive ways involved, obviously, they have to be dealt with and worked through. But with other matters, such as irritations… we need to let up a bit on each other. If we look at them truthfully, these aren’t sinister plots aimed against us to ruin our lives. They’re just irritations that need to be worked through.
You’re always going to have something going on that irritates you in the close setting of a marital relationship. However, these irritations don’t have to ruin a marriage. That is, unless we keep looking at them to such an extent that they poison even the good. And then they DO ruin it.
We need to believe in the good will of the other and grace living. In doing so, we can more readily embrace marital optimism, which is important to the life of the marriage.
Faith in The “Big Picture”
In the insightful Crosswalk.com article written by Rebecca Hagelin, Stoke the Fires of Marital Optimism (which I HIGHLY recommend you read), she wrote something that’s important to note:
“For marriage to work, good communication habits aren’t enough. Faith in the ‘big picture’ of your relationship is important too. Losing hope that marriage can work —and that your spouse means well —can feed a downward spiral. It’s all too common in our divorce culture: struggling couples lose confidence in their ability to make their marriage successful.”
Please don’t allow yourself to lose that confidence. Thanksgiving is vital, in how we live our lives (especially in marriage). Even through the tough times it’s important. If we keep our focus on God, eventually we will see the good He can bring out of it.
But thanks living, and grace living is important too. As God extends grace to us, we see the importance of extending it to others —particularly to our spouse who we vowed before God to “love, honor and cherish” for the rest of our lives. Because of this, we’re more optimistic that things will work out. That is, even if it takes us thinking “outside the box” (especially in our expectations).
I’m seeing more and more in marriages that expectations are at such a height in our world today (especially with the media feeding this entitlement mentality). And this present day’s divorce culture we live in, feeds into all of that. It tells us “we deserve” better and we can get “better.” It also tells us that we need to cut our losses and move on to find the love, that is waiting for us.
Hogwash! Marriages are falling apart everywhere because the good is erased in the process of focusing on all that we perceive to not be good. Too many spouses are bent on fleeing from working through the hard stuff, in pursuit of what we perceive to be better. It’s not. There’s something to be said about persevering. We’re told in James 1:4 “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The Importance of Perseverance
In 2 Peter 1:5-9 we’re told that kindness and perseverance, among others, “if we posses these qualities in increasing measure” will keep us “from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “If anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”
Again, we see the grace living principle in place here. God forgives us and we forgive others. God extends us grace, and in return, we extend grace. To do otherwise means we’ve “forgotten” that we’ve been classed from past sins.
As someone wrote,
“Believing is the root of the tree we call salvation. Behaving is the fruit that grows on it. We don’t do good works to be saved. Our good works are just an expression of love and gratitude to the One who already saved us.”
I know this is a lot to take in, but I hope that you will pray on it. I’m concerned for what I’m seeing. Both young and older marriages are breaking apart. Kids aren’t being taught to persevere in their love and marriage commitments. Society feels the pain of the broken apart marriages in more ways than I can name. We NEED to work together to help couples see the importance of grace living —to persevere in loving each other as God loves us.
Please join us in reaching out to encourage couples to work through the tough stuff. Encourage them to give each other grace, and love that reveals and reflects the heart of Christ within marriage.
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
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Filed under: Marriage Blog