That’s me in that photo above, but in reality I’m not very good at being married. I know that some of it is because of past circumstances, but I also know that some of it – a lot of it actually – is just me. I’m an arguer. My job as a critical care nurse has honed my reasoning skills to a lethally sharp edge, and I have the fortunate and unfortunate ability to develop a court-case-style presentation of my thoughts in 15 seconds or less. Pretty impressive, you say? If you were my patient in the hospital you’d think it’s fantastic, but you can imagine what my husband thinks of this amazing talent of mine. He says I should have been a lawyer, and I don’t think he means it as a compliment.
For these past seven years I have struggled, and I continue to struggle. It is hard for me to stop and breathe before I speak; it’s hard for me to pray for words before I give my own; it’s hard for me to love someone over my own self and to take care of that person’s needs before my own. Paul writes in Romans about wanting to do right but then doing wrong anyways, and that passage resonates with me…I know in my mind how I should love, but I don’t actually do it.
We all have something, don’t we? That thing we can’t seem to get past.
[pullquote type=”left”]Whether I deliver on my end or not, He delivered on His…[/pullquote]God showed me something recently that I’d never realized before. At Calvary, Jesus conquered sin – my specific sin. Whether I deliver on my end or not, He delivered on His and I am free from this sin’s power and this sin’s penalty. I am free of it in light of eternity because of the cross. I rely on Christ for that – I rely on Him for salvation and eternal freedom from sin’s penalty because I know I can’t possibly achieve it. But somehow in the depths of me I believe that I can conquer my own issues here and now.
How do we typically deal with changing ourselves? I think that many times we try to control our behavior. I “make an effort” to be more patient; I “try” not to be abrupt; I “refrain” from saying those things I know would be hurtful. And on so many levels I consider those to be successes. But if I continue to simply modify each behavior, no real change will ever happen in me because it’s just behavior…and eventually the heart in me that caused the behaviors in the first place will rear its head and cause some other sin, because WHO I AM never changed.
[pullquote type=”right”]Repentance and striving toward a godly life isn’t a task to complete, but a transformation to be made – a transformation that only He can complete in us. [/pullquote]The real answer to change is not control but surrender. I gave my life to Christ upon my salvation, but it can’t stop at that. The surrender of my unclean heart and my sins has to continue throughout every minute of every day of my life so that my heart can conform to be more like His. Repentance and striving toward a godly life isn’t a task to complete, but a transformation to be made – a transformation that only He can complete in us. Christ was the only One who could conquer sin at the cross, and He’s the only One who can conquer sin now.
My marriage has a purpose in my life, and so does whatever your “thing” is. God is showing me more about my own heart through my marriage than through anything else; He shows more of His character to me through my marriage than He has through anything else; He gives me a story to tell through my marriage that could not come from anywhere else. My marriage is tough so that I can surrender myself more and more to my Savior…so that I can testify to who He is and what He can do.
If I control, I feebly attempt to save myself. But if I surrender, He is the Champion of the story. And THAT is a story worth telling.