Here’s what we talked about in week 3 of our series on “This Abundant Life,” in a brief recap from Andrew Claxton. To catch up on weeks 1 & 2, check out The Parish Podcast.
Jesus freely offers each of us a life of abundance that is deeper, richer and fuller than we can perhaps imagine. How can this abundance extend into our marriage and are we willing to go on this journey and to fight for our marriage? Where do we start and what’s at stake?
We’re all aware of the dire statistics about marriage in our society and we see too many marriages around us end in divorce. Other marriages endure but might be empty and joyless. At the same time isn’t society telling us that “marriage should make me happy and my spouse should make me happy”? And if we aren’t satisfied in marriage (we’re told) then we should seek to change our spouse and to make them “better”. Or, when all else fails we can simply jettison it as we do with other commitments in life like the job or friendship or Church that has grown dull and no longer fulfills our appetite.
This struggle for love leaves us lonely and disillusioned, wondering if marriage is even worth it. But the problem is, this kind of love is broken at its core. Love that is centered around happiness is “me-first” love, and it’s not the way we were designed to live. The journey to an abundant marriage starts with a willingness to become the kind of person who loves like Jesus, with a “you-first” kind of love. In this way our marriage begins to mirror the image of Christ and the Church that the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians:
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:31
Jesus is our perfect example of love and sacrifice, laying down his life while we were yet sinners. So if we’re willing to believe in the abundant life that Jesus has in store for our marriage and we’re brave enough to fight for it, where do we start? Perhaps we might start by having a conversation about three areas in marriage where “me-first love” tends to hide:
- Lies – Honesty and openness are essential. What lies are you believing? “I married the wrong person.” “This should be easier.” These lies are toxic to the kind of love we’ve been designed to show.
- Secrets – Holding areas of our lives back from our spouse is a recipe for disaster. Telling ourselves, “I don’t need to share that” is a “me-centered” and destructive love.
- Time – We often argue that we “don’t have time” to invest in the hard work of “you-first” love. But no matter how busy we are, we will always make time for what is important to us. The fastest way to see who you love is by looking at your calendar. Place your spouse first, and protect your time with him/her above all else.
Let’s be bold enough to believe that an abundant marriage is really possible. And let’s ask the Holy Spirit to exchange our “me-first love” with the “you-first love” that we experience in the person of Jesus.