I love this “Marriage is hard” 4-day reading plan for its straightforward delivery style!
Here are the excerpt and the four daily topics: 1. Marriage is hard: We’re prideful Apologizing is hard work. Apologizing and changing your behaviors is even harder, and what makes it so hard is pride… When your spouse has an issue with something you’ve said or done, listen twice and think three times before you say anything. It may just be that the best thing you can say is, “I’m sorry.”
Egoistic and self-reliant, I was an everything-is-possible-if-I-put-my-mind-to-it kind of gal. Paid top dollars to attend seminars by renowned speakers; walked on fire (burnt my toe), read many famous self-help books.
Christianity? Definitely not on my list. I thought it’s weird, prudish, weak, rude and definitely geeky and boring. Christmas to me, was party, drink, presents, merry-making, heck-yeah.
Something has been increasingly catching my heart and attention – the refugee situation in our world. Note that I said – Our world. Not, their world vs our own cocooned comfort air-conditioned world.
Just few weeks ago, I got angry and reacted at a senior lady for saying ‘But they are Muslims, let God deal with them.’ Just typing this makes my blood boil with anger. I clenched my fist as I held back my tears and told her – They are human beings as how God had created each and every one of us AND commanded us to love one another.
Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. – John 13:34 Msg
Though I don’t have her prejudice, I wasn’t any better. Why do I say so?
In everything about justice, love and righteousness, I let the mindset of ‘there are so many people who need help, I can’t possibly help them all’ stop me from helping that one person.
I was ignorant. I was detached. Sure I give financially. But that sure is the easier thing to do, ain’t it? Don’t get me wrong, financial aid helps people, so yes, please do be a generous giver. But is that it? After I have given, I pat myself on the back, felt comforted that I am ‘doing something’ and let my conscience rest? I refuse to live such a life any more.
“Wait until you see what happens when there’s an absence of water, an absence of food, or one tribe fighting against another for mere survival,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.
I am really far off from what the advocates and activists have been doing in this area. Heck, I’m blur like sotong; I don’t even know an inch of what does it mean to be an advocate or activist. But, I refuse to let my excuse of ‘I don’t know’, ‘this is too big’, ‘what can little me do’ or worse, ‘someone is already doing something’ hold me captive any longer.
The media has played a big part in influencing people on what is deemed to be ‘the norm’. Giving up on a tough and bad marriage is one of them. From Hollywood movies to Hong Kong soap operas, the message is this: If it’s causing great unhappiness to both parties and there’s no workable solution in sight, then the only solution is to get a divorce.
One of my heart’s burdens is the health and well-being of marriages. It breaks my heart to see marriages falling apart and in the process, dragging everything down with them. Families are torn apart. Children are having to learn how to live a ‘new normal life’ when nothing is normal about broken families – despite what the media is saying to us.
Look, I am not trying to make a suffering relationship sound easy. I am a product of a divorced family, as my parents divorced even before I went to kindergarten. Later in my adult life, I find myself living with the consequences of being in a second marriage relationship; my husband’s second marriage, my first. I have seen firsthand how my step-daughter suffered during her earlier childhood; being torn apart from her shuffling between her biological mother and father, who has sole custody of her. I have had power struggle with his ex-wife for imparting different and conflicting values into my step-daughter. I have screamed through bitter arguments with my husband. At this point, I have to say that while society dictates I call her ‘step-daughter’, in my heart, she is no different to me than a biological child. So it is only for the purpose of this article that I am using the term ‘step-daughter’.
“Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”- Ephesians 4:2-3
To cut a long story short, our earlier years together was close to being hell on earth as a new ‘blended’ family. It wasn’t until all of us came to know Christ, starting with my husband, then three years later, where I too decided to surrender my life to Him that He took our biggest mistake and made it right.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12
Both of you have to commit to the ‘No exit clause’ in your marriage from the beginning.
We had to learn through the most painful way how not to live life selfishly. We had to learn how to love unconditionally despite seeing how hopeless our relationship seemed to be. I am ever thankful for the lessons, horrible as they were. The hard lessons have taught us to close the exit door of our marriage. We decided that ‘there’s no exit clause’ in this marriage, and we are going to work it out, no matter what.
With our marriage being rooted in God and made stronger, we can give our daughter a stable growing up environment. She has seen the bad and ugly consequences of both husband and wife wanting their way and insisting that their expectations be met. As she is now maturing into a beautiful teen both from the inside and out; I thank God that she too is, growing her roots deeper in Christ. I can’t be any happier for her or love her enough!
By God’s power, I believe that the ‘generational curse’ of bad marriages and divorces from both sides of our family has been broken. It stops at our generation.
My last take on this – If you have yet to make the decision, please don’t give up on your marriage, please don’t get divorced. Get help, seek counselling, pray. Do whatever, but please don’t give up.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Eph. 6:10
I have this habit of bringing along my organ donor card, blood type card and medical card when I go out; just in case… who knows? Organised or morbid? You decide.
So I’m not shy of the knowledge that we don’t know the length of our lives, it can happen anytime to anyone.
The thing is, even with that kind of awareness (organ donor card!), it doesn’t change how I live my life as if tomorrow will always come! I get angry at trivial things, let my mind be absorbed with worries by thinking of other to-dos while I am doing the current to-dos. And I certainly wasted too much time on social media with things that don’t add value to my life and others.
For the past one year, I knew in my heart that I need to start living as if today is my last, but I wasn’t intentional in doing that; until I learned that a friend with healthy living lifestyle was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Though I’m never naïve about healthy people do get cancer, that news finally shook me. That and perhaps, I’m old enough to see lives of loved ones lost at way-too-early age.
I do question my mortality from time to time, how long do I have? A question asked in vain I know, and a wrong question to ask.
Thus, I went to my church’s book store and finally picked up this book which caught my eye a year ago but I didn’t buy it.
How different would I like my life to be at the end of reading this book?
When ‘Day one’ challenge asked me to ‘As quickly as possible, without thinking too hard or too long, make a list of five things you’d change about your life if you knew you only had a month to live’… I really have to imagine that it could be true and that scared the heck out of me. Being not sure how long is ‘too long’ and how hard is ‘too hard’, I took less than 10 minutes to list down my five things.
Apart from the obvious item number one, which is to be less anxious about what’s ahead in my day, the rest of the four things caught my attention so much that I just stared at the items on the list. Simple, little things that I procrastinated upon, because I thought ‘there will always be a next chance’.
So today, I’m saying good-bye to ‘next time’ and getting a kick start with this ‘One month to live’ challenge.
How about you?
How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. – James 4:14 NLT
A person’s life really transpired between the two dates on the tombstone. Birth date -(dash) Death date. What will our ‘dash’ be? What will we live for? Who will we love? Who need our forgiveness? It could be ourselves, even! We get to choose how to spend that ‘dash’. What are you spending yours on? Let’s ask God for wisdom and guidance on how best to spend our lives.
Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.’
P.s.: If you have an encouraging experience from this challenge, I would love to hear from you, share your story on the comments below.
It’s easy to love lovable’ people, anyone can do that! But it’s in the loving of people who have wronged us or caused harm to others, or simply just very different from us that my walk being a Christ follower is tested.
I’m chewing on this passage.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG)
‘I want to swim again’, said my late mom to her oncologist when at her stage-4 cancer; he asked what is it that she wants to do. (To encourage her). Fight she did, but she never got the chance to go into the pool ever again.
What is it that you want to do, need to do; even if it’s just a simple thing, but you are giving yourself excuses not to? Or, are you questioning ‘does it matter to do what I’m doing?’
I question myself that many times about my role in the church office. I question my blogging, writing about God. I question myself even over this 365daily word thingy. Does it matter? Will it make a difference to other people? Hubs told me: Even if you do it, you may not know in your lifetime. But if you don’t do it, you will NEVER know and will live with this niggling thought. Maybe even at my death bed, regret.
You’ve answered some of my silliest littlest prayers like, ‘Dear God, help me enjoy the process of this dreaded grocery shopping and housekeeping.’
In my immature way, I wished and wished my prayer of letting my mom be with me for much longer be traded with the rest and be answered instead.
I wished that she has the chance now to enjoy a better daughter; since He made me a better person through the process of growing in Christ. We would have such a wonderful relationship now that I’ve learnt how to love.
But Your ways are a mystery. And it’s beyond my comprehension.
The only comfort and the most important one at that is I’m assured that mummy is safe with You in heaven. Two years free of earthly pain, suffering and sorrow.
Some recurring incidents with my teen had triggered these thoughts in me. Parenting a child is hard. Parenting a teen is heartbreaking. I shudder to think if I ever have another child (of my own blood)…
So goes my Whatsapp to a friend whom I know won’t judge me with a wagging finger for thinking such un-motherly thoughts.
She comforted me saying that she knows perfectly lovely parents who want to strangle their kids plus hamster in tow.
“Thank you for making me feel normal,” I said.
My angry thoughts—For what we have done for our teen, the love we gave her, the sacrifices… She can disappoint and hurt us by repeatedly telling lies to our face, be disobedient, selfish (chose own pleasures over other people’s needs)… Despite us doing what we can; talk gently to her, reasoning, punishment, some threats when we get desperate, prayed together… She is still repeating the same mistakes, especially lying. It breaks my heart. How ungrateful of her to repay us with these.
But as I was blow drying my hair, this other thought/voice/conscience came to me—What about me? As a child of God, I’m giving the same treatment to my Heavenly Father. As much as I know how much He has done for me at the cross and loves me, don’t I break His heart time & again disobeying what He asks me to do, or not to do? I’m selfish too, placing busyness and things that are more appealing to my own pleasures over Him? He must be heartbroken too.
Yet He still loves me unconditionally. He forgives. He patiently watches as I repeat the same mistake, and when I’m done, send me some lessons to learn from it. He never falters. With that, I got a bit more different perspective on this parenting situation and felt comforted. Of course, comparing God’s standard and human’s standard is futile. So, here’s my prayer:
Thank You for always being with me. Thank You even for those hard lessons You’ve allowed to happen in my life. I’m sorry at times I’m thick-headed and still insist on doing things my way. I guess, this will never end until the day I go Home to You. But I pray that You will help me to become more mature in my ways. I pray that You’ll help me to obey You more. And place You at the center. Help me and hubs to parent our teen the way You want us to. With a lot of wisdom & discipline built on a solid foundation of love. Let her experience Your Fatherly love through us. I ask this in Jesus name, I pray, Amen.