Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Labor of Love

It's Labor Day.
And I want to talk about marriage.
This isn't the first time I've talked about marriage and labor.
Because marriage takes work.
It's a labor of love.

Falling love is easy.
It's the staying in love that is hard.
One year ago, my marriage was hurting.
I didn't feel in love.
In fact, love was pretty much on the bottom of the list of things I felt about my husband.

There were even some moments when I thought, "what if I give up?"
I didn't really mean it, but it felt good to ask that question.
It made me feel like I was in control.
It seemed like it would be a whole lot easier than staying.
And laboring.

I never imagined I would be in that place.
There is that pride again.
Why did I think that our marriage was somehow immune to struggle?
Why did I consider every problem his, never mine, or ours?
Because it is easier to blame someone else.
Because it is easier to say everything is fine.

And it was.
On the surface.
But underneath there were all sorts of things that we were just too busy to talk about.
We had 3 small kids, and if that doesn't suck the life right out of you, I don't know what else will.
We were just in the middle of that time when it's all about the kids.
You know what I mean, right?
That's legitimate.
Or maybe it was just a cop out.
There were things we were too scared to talk about.
Because then we might have to change.
And change requires work.
And there was some hurt and some resentment and some bitterness and left unresolved, they festered.
Things weren't fine.

But still.
I never imagined I, we, would be in that place.
We said for better or for worse.
We said till death do us part.
We said in sickness and in health.
We said we'd stick it out through the hard stuff.
It's easy to say it.
It's so much harder to do it.

Because sometimes you are just tired of all the work.
Wives, you are tired of making your husband lunch every day and taking care of the kids, and carrying and birthing babies, and cleaning the house, and working all day, at home or somewhere else, and making dinner, and after being pawed all day long by the children, he still wants you to sit next to him on the couch and cuddle!
Husbands, you are tired of eating a mushy sandwich every day, of siting at your desk for hours doing a job that isn't all that exciting, of watching all the money go toward the kids' new shoes and the minivan payment instead of a sailboat, and when you come home the kids attack you before you even get in the door, and it's non-stop until bed time when all you want to do is sit on the couch and hold your wife and she says she doesn't feel like it!

And, oh so slowly, you let all those little things add up, you keep track of the wrongs done to you and the resentment grows, until, before you know it, you've allowed selfishness to have a foothold in your heart.
There is no room for selfishness in marriage.
Love is not selfish.

Love is patient.
Love is kind. 
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
It is not proud.  
It does not dishonor others.
It is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
Love never fails.  (1 Corinthians 13)

Never before have those words meant so much to me as they have this year.
I have read them over and over again.
I have asked God to help me love Aaron that way.
And for Aaron to love me that way.
We have labored.
I will not tell you that it has been easy.
There have been many tears shed.
But God has given us strength when we were weary.
And I can say, most assuredly, that our labor has not been in vain.

We have this baby boy as a constant reminder, in so many different ways, of new life.
If we allow Him to, God can turn the ugly into something beautiful.
He can "make a way in your desert and streams in your wasteland."* 
It won't be easy.
But it will be good.
I know.
Because I have never loved my husband more than I do right now.
As I wrote this post, there were two things on my mind.
One was to encourage:
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:13)
The other is to exhort:
" So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!"  (1 Corinthians 10:12)

You may be in a different place right now.
It may be blissful.
It may be good.
Or you may be hurting.
And you may need to know that others have been there too.
You are not alone.
It's a scary thing to admit: first to yourself and then to others.
But find someone and say, "please pray for me."
"Please pray for my marriage."
How can we help one another if we are not honest?

We live in a world where a lot of marriages crumble.
At some point you are going to have to fight for your marriage.
Be ready.
It's worth it.

Love from,

*Isaiah 43: 18-19

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
Now it springs up,  Do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."


Liv said...

My husband likes to say in the long, hard, enduring times, when we are exhausted and money is tight and we are beyond insane tired,

"We're building something, investing in our family. Our ministry is first to each other."

Beautiful post.

Betsi* said...

I'm so proud of you! I know how scary it was for you to be open about the struggles you guys have had, but honey, you just blessed our socks off. Usually in life our greatest struggle becomes our greatest ministry, once we let the Holy Spirit work his magic in our hearts. You are seeing the fruit of your obedience and faithfulness and it is spilling over and nourishing others. I love you so much! Well done, sister. <3

Pam... said...

Our awesome Greta. The writer. The future author. The fighter for all good things. The real. The tired. The one with the great big smile.

Thanks for your words of ministry. Again. ps. love that topical side bar you did over there-->. It's good for those who like to peak into the book at the best parts when we don't have time for the whole thing.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love the honest truths in your post. Marriage is hard, but it is so worth making it work.

Lillian said...

Truely God is in this blog today. Thank you for allowing Him to work in you, through you, to help those with hurting hearts. I know a few and have had one myself. But I know God is good and faithful to heal if we will ask and yes, labor.

katie said...

Thank your sharing this beautiful and honest post. The ups and down of marriage can't be prevented, but we can prevent how we react to them.

Aaron Eskridge said...

Thank you for this post.
Thank you for sticking with me through the darkest valley.
I am so thankful for what the Lord has done in our marriage, through our brokenness.
May we continue to cleave to his grace.
May he continue to work in our hearts, in our marriage, and in our family.
Praise GOD for saving us.

I love you.
I love you more, and more truly, than ever.

Yours always,

Swenja said...

Amazing post and so true! Seems like we're so busy with kids and jobs and the house and everything that what the basis for all of this sometimes gets a bit lost.

Thanks for the reminder!

Laurie J said...

this is beautiful and beautifully honest. i'm sure a lot of marriages will be encouraged by this post! i love the quote from 1 cor 13 and the 'love is not selfish'......such a great reminder!

kim and steve said...

may god always work his spirit though you, what a gift, i thank god for your gift, and i know everyone that reads it does. you help me to keep god in my heart at alll times!!!!!!!

Bethany said...

This was the cool drink of water I needed for encouragement this afternoon. I enjoy reading your blog and you probably don't realize it, but your blog is mentoring me to be a better mom and wife and girl.

Thanks so much for the effort it takes to write and publish a blog.

Brenda H said...

That is a wonderful post! I have been divorced and would love to have someone that realizes marriage isn't always all fun and games, but it is good when it is!

This must have been a tough post to write, but it is awesome!

Life with Littles said...

Love you dear friend. Thanks for letting us see your heart and encouraging us.

hannah singer said...

greta!! thank you for listening to the lord, this post was so inspired by him.
timely, friend.
thanks for the exhortation and encouragement.

i love you.

Anonymous said...


Can anyone tell me how do you let go of resentments that build up because he never says sorry or show sorrow for the hurt you might be feeling, he just seems not to realise (but I interpret as he doesnt care)...its a small thing amongst HOW WONDERFUL he actually is, I LOOOOVE him,but I allow that resentment to always fester and I dont know how to let it go


Life with Littles said...

Dear Anonymous,

You are not alone in the way you feel. I think that all of us have to fight against this. One thing that has helped me in my marriage is to gain a greater understanding of the reality of what Christ had to do in order to make me acceptable before God. We are all great sinners, greater than we know, and we are all married to great sinners. Each one of us is in dire need of the grace that only God can give. Understanding the depths of our own sin and how incredibly loving our God is to save us from that will help us to give grace to our husbands. Your worth is in Christ and His amazing, welcoming love for you, a sinner that has been pardoned. Your husband's worth is in Christ and His amazing, welcoming love for him, a sinner that has been pardoned. Because of this we have nothing to prove, Christ has proved it all for you.
I am writing this assuming that you are both believers.

A great book that you might want to check out is called When Sinners Say I Do.

jessie said...

beautiful and honest words. thank you for describing this life-long commitment as laboring.

Karen said...

Thanks for sharing your struggles with keeping the commitment of marriage, made before God, sacred. It is true that we all do have to "labor" to keep our self-centered hearts at bay, and to honor God and our spouse by keeping our marriage vows. I do have one comment for "Anonymous" as well. I too, spent a few years in my marriage feeling exactly the same way. I even believed that my husband was the only one in the wrong. However while in a Bible study about marriage, the Lord revealed to me that: Even IF my husband was the only one who was in the wrong and IF I had done nothing wrong, I would have sinned just as much as he did by not forgiving him, as the Lord instructs us to do in the Word. (I do not delude myself into thinking he was the only one at fault, but I do realize that it often seems that way at the time.)Anyway, it all comes back to my relationship with the Lord. In order to honor Him, I must honor him (my husband.)I had always been one to harbor resentments, but that day I made a decision that I did not want to do that any more. With the Lord's help, I choose to NOT let myself stay mad or even file it away to chew on ever again. This is probably the single most freeing decision I ever made, both in my marriage, and in other personal relationships. I choose to obey God and forgive others 70 X 7 times. I pray that the Lord will reveal to you His truth relevant to your marriage situation, and that you might also be blessed. God bless!

Maggie said...

Thank you for this post. I'm in that spot where it's not working well and it's nice to think (but never seriously) about giving up because it would be so much easier than trying to live with this man. You look like you have such a great marriage -- I guess it comforting to know it's not effortless for you, and others struggle too. It's been a big encouragement to me, and some of these comments too.

Jocelyn said...

Found your blog because I saw you commented in the Natos. My husband and I are walking around in a redeemed marriage too!!! About died at the end if this is post because Isaiah 43:18-19 was one of the most significant verses to me as our marriage has recovered. In fact, we have since had another baby and his middle name is Isaiah as a reminder :)
Praise God for redeemed marriages!! Thank you for your words! And my email is jocelyn dot Compton at gmail dot com