How many times have we, as wives, said these words when struggling with dissension in our marriage? I know I have. There was a time in my marriage, okay, well probably more like a decade, when I saw nothing but the faults of my spouse in every conflict. It’s amazing; really, that I could see anything considering the obstacles that had impaired my vision. One day God whispered to me the words of Matthew 7:3, “(Shelby), why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the Sequoia in your own eye?” Now it says “plank” in most translations of the Bible, but God apparently felt a mere piece of wood obstructing my vision was not analogous enough to explain the shortcoming He saw in me. He’s generous that way.
God’s Word did greet me that day, but you know the old saying, “in one ear and out the other.” Having to be the one to change all the time to make peace in a relationship can get really old. It seems like I am always recognizing a personal failure and then going through the hard work of becoming new and better equipped in that area. Although it isn’t true, I like to convince myself that my husband gets off easy in this regard. It seems as if God merely uses him as a projector screen to reveal all the areas of my character that are defective. And that’s exactly what God does. He’s generous that way.
It was a quote I read from Ruth Bell Graham that finally stuck between my ears and took residence in my heart. Her message answered with poignant clarity why I should be the one to change. God blessed me with her wisdom just when I needed it most and paved the way for a healthier marriage with my spouse. Her message helped me understand that unless I felt I had the complete character of Christ I had no business expecting it from my spouse. God reminded me that I needn’t fret over sawdust when I can’t even see the forest through the trees. He’s generous that way.
“I pity the married couple who expect too much from one another. It is a foolish wife who expects her husband to be that which only Jesus Christ can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under impossible strain.” – Ruth Bell Graham
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