I find today to be an appropriate day to talk about what I've been learning recently.
I'm about to get brutally honest.
I am a self-righteous, know-it-all, fruit of the Spirit-lacking wife. I mean, on the surface, I'm a good wife. I am always available for my husband, I cook and clean for him, I make him lunch, complete with a nice note, we talk together and laugh together, and I truly love him.
But I have been given a real (and necessary) kick in the pants.
Some day I plan to write a book about expectations and how they are at the root of relationship issues. And it's true. I found out that I am a self-righteous, know-it-all, fruit of the Spirit-lacking wife when I thought my expectations had not been met. Let me explain. My husband is a great husband. He is godly, faithful, caring, loving, often thoughtful, and likes to spend time with me. But somewhere, somehow, I got the idea that my husband was supposed to act a certain way if he was going to really show love to me. It's true, I feel love differently than he does, and he knows that. But in reality, if my husband is following I Cor. 13, that's real, true love. And most of the time, my husband does this.
But I didn't see it that way. I was struggling. Our relationship was never in peril, but I was allowing myself to feel hurt by the unmet expectations I had. I knew something had to change. I didn't think it would have to be me, because after all, I selflessly served my husband, day in and day out. How could it be me that had to change?
Then I read The Fruitful Wife by Hayley DiMarco. Consider my butt kicked. Actually, I haven't finished it-- I'm about halfway through, and my butt is thoroughly kicked. What she shares is nothing new, but I can relate so completely to her and her experience. She was an independent woman who got married later, and she likes to be in control and argue until people realize that she is right. She explains how the tension in her marriage was simply from a lack of fruit of the Spirit.
Wow. Imagine my surprise that the hurt I was feeling was a direct result of my own lacking, trusting relationship with the Lord, NOT my husband's lack of love. Imagine my surprise that I was not exhibiting real love, joy, peace, patience, etc.
What impacted me most was her point that we are to have the fruit of the Spirit not for our own satisfaction or to help us have a "happy" life, but rather for God's glory, and the good of others (which brings God glory as well). I need to love my husband regardless of if I feel loved in return because that is glorifying to God. I need to have joy in all circumstances because that is honoring to God. And so on.
This is elementary. But somehow, it seemed so new and fresh and just what I needed to hear.
So on this Valentine's Day, a day of expectation, I encourage you to love those around you-- husbands, fiances, boyfriends, friends, parents-- without expectation. Because if we trust our God, we know we have everything we need (including emotionally), and don't need to depend on what others do for us. Love them because God loves you. Love them because that's honoring to God.
And read this book! It's changing my perspective and improving my marriage. Maybe you'll like it, too!
Happy Valentine's Day!