Thursday, January 14, 2010

Love Is a Battlefield

This week I finished reading Elena Maria Vidal's The Night's Dark Shade, and it got me to thinking about all the ways marital fidelity is tested.

Sometimes the testing comes from the past: the subtle temptation to dwell on pleasant memories of the past, from a life before our spouse was known to us -- and comparing (with longing or regret) our present moments to the rosy glow of yesterday. Other times, those memories are painful, scarring the heart in ways that make us hardened or suspicious. We busy ourselves, so as not to notice. But what we need is a new "heart of flesh." In the words of the Prophet Ezekiel (36:26):
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will
remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."
Some of us are tested in this present moment, with flares of dissatisfaction and mistrust -- whether at our spouses, or even toward God. Earlier today I spoke with a friend who, overwhelmed by the demands of her life, and aggravated with her husband's lack of response, wondered aloud whether there was anything in her marriage worth saving.

Hold on, I urged her. Take a step back and find ways to reconnect again, laugh and play. When life becomes overwhelming, these stolen moments of simple pleasure are like marital booster shots, and fortify us for the arduous trek ahead.

In those homes where both spouses are believers, praying with each other and for each other can make all the difference. Standing before the God who loves us both, and who shows no partiality, it is sometimes easier to bridge the gaps that yawn between us, caused by little slights and ingrown grudges. Protecting and nurturing that "secret garden" is essential.

While some of us are tempted to dwell in the past, or fret over the present, others are frightened by the future. This has been my point of weakness lately. Discouraged by circumstances of the present, it is easy to project -- always negatively -- into the future, trying to anticipate the problems ahead and to find solutions even before they are needed. And while prudence demands that we take responsibility for our families and make plans to assure they are provided for over the long term, it is quite another thing to borrow trouble.

Perhaps this is why Our Lord counsels us:

"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each
day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34).

From what direction is the enemy letting his arrows fly at you this week? Are you clinging to the past, angry in the present, or anxious for the future? Is there anything you need to place in the hands of your Father in heaven, to leave room for the Spirit to move?

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