The Mirror

Learning to see yourself reflected in your spouse

Wendy DrummAt a condo I once lived in, the closet doors had been replaced with full length mirrors.  It was a little disconcerting at times to always see myself there.  Especially in the bedroom, where I would change clothes, or step out from the bath after my shower to get things.  In a sense it made me feel vulnerable, seeing myself that way. Normally, my view is from my perspective only, but seeing yourself constantly as you move about the room turned out to really bother me.  I really don’t ever need to see myself from those angles in that state of dress.  It’s just a little too revealing.

What I didn’t realize then, was that on my wedding day I would be marrying another of those full-length mirrors, and he would follow me around and not just in the bedroom.  Adam is always with me, allowing me to see myself through his perspective.  My route to denial is inhibited and I am constantly being surprised by my own reflection bouncing off of him.  I guess you could say that this is both good and bad.

It’s good because it allows me to have faith in his faith.  It allows me to rely on his belief in me when mine falters.  It allows me to feel beautiful when I see the measure of his esteem for me.  It allows me to grow into my full potential because I want to be the woman that he describes when he talks about me.  It encourages me to be more than I thought I could be, not because I wasn’t capable on my own, but rather that I didn’t see the talents, opportunities and potential in me that he sees.

However, it’s also bad because it also reveals the worst parts of me too.  Just like squatting to look under the bed shocked my bedroom mirror, my sinful nature can provide a shocking image in my spousal mirror.  Before marriage I thought I had done a pretty good job hunting out my areas of sin.  I thought that that man I married would truly be getting a wife worthy of rubies.  Little did I realize that there were so many areas of my sin nature that had remained hidden to me within my single life.

It was like cleaning a house, but leaving several rooms in the dark behind locked doors.  For example, I didn’t realize how selfish I was until I had to share.  I didn’t realize how demanding I was until I was forced to compromise.  I didn’t realize how unforgiving I was until I was expected to extend grace.  Unlike my single life, this was a state of being that I had to confront all the time, when I least expected it.

At first, I didn’t like what I saw.  Just like that mirror in the bedroom, I saw so many areas in need of change.  I saw how much work needed to be done to reach my ideal self-image.  Now as I catch glimpses of my character reflected through my husband’s view, I see how far from the image of Christ I really am.  I see my sin nature in full color shining back in my face, and it humbles me.   I feel convicted of who I am when no one is watching.

However, conviction differs from sin, in that it promotes change.  The first thing it does is cause me to repent of my sinful nature.  It drives me to my knees and sends me to my Heavenly Father for redemption.  It opens within me a hunger and thirst for righteousness that I cannot satisfy on my own.  His view pushes me forward as I strive forward to be transformed by Christ through sanctification. It reveals how deeply I need a Savior.

So, you see, my husband, the full-length mirror, is actually not both good and bad.  It is good and great.  It is good because I can borrow his belief in me when I am unsure or doubting.  But it is great because it constantly reminds me of my salvation through Jesus.  It drives me forward to be better, to be more, to be a child of Christ.  It keeps me from becoming proud and confident in my own gifts, and constantly striving to run the best race I can.

This mirror I see in Adam is just another reminder of how marriage is the earthly version of our relationship with Christ.  Our relationship to Jesus also acts as our mirror.  I can also borrow his faith in me to sustain me in times of weakness.  The Apostle Paul wrote that he delighted in his weakness, for then Christ’s strength was revealed.  When I look at myself through the eyes of Christ, I see a daughter of the Most High.  A woman made in the image of God.  I see myself as fearfully and wonderfully made.  

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 Just as my husband the mirror shows me my sin nature, my Savior the mirror does the same thing.  I look at myself according to the standard set by Christ and I see how short I fall.  I see how far from righteous I really am, and I praise Him for loving me anyway.  I see how unworthy I am of redemption and I glorify Him for the free gift of my salvation.  When I look in the mirror of Christ, I see a woman who is both sinful and beautiful.  I see her as righteous and fallen.  I see her as hopeless and promised.  I see her as unlovely, but deeply loved.

So, today I am thankful for my husband, the mirror.  I am thankful that he sees more in me than I could ever dream of for myself and I am thankful that he helps me to see my own sin nature.  More than that though, I am thankful for Christ, the mirror, that holds the reflection of a girl that has been promised a kingdom even though she doesn’t deserve it.

True Intimacy

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I had the opportunity today to be interviewed by someone who is doing a research project about ministry for young pastors. As I was asked a series of questions, I was revealing a lot about my journey as a pastor. My mistakes and unsuccessful attempt in the past about launching a small home church and now sharing about our move to Oklahoma and what God has planned for us. Then, he asked me an interesting question.

“How has this decision affected your spouse and how have you been able to stay in agreement?”

As I answered, I just began to pour out what has been on my heart lately about growing in intimacy with your spouse. What I have seen and heard from a lot of couples lately is how they are distant. Many couples do not seem to share the same goals or visions, and almost seem to be living separate lives. I can definitely see how living separate lives can make a decision to move across the country to follow Gods will for my life very difficult if my spouse was not in agreement. This young man revealed to me that he is getting married in a couple months, so I took an opportunity to talk about growing in intimacy with your spouse. I am not talking about physical intimacy. I am talking about really becoming one as God has called Husband and Wife to be. I am talking about prayer. I am talking about faith. I am talking about our individual relationships with Christ becoming one.

Below I have outlined three steps that my wife and I have been practicing and what we have seen the results be. What we have realized is that to be “one flesh” requires us to be intentional about it. To be a strong Christian couple with a strong marriage that our children can look up to, we must be intentional about it. We must fight for every step of ground we take. And, we must fight for it on our knees.

PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER

James 5:16 NLT
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 

Prayer may be one of the greatest difficulties Christians seem to have. “I don’t know what to say”, “I don’t know how to do it”. But the reality is, God wants us to pray. He wants us to pray for ourselves. He wants us to pray for others. But, what about praying for or with our spouse? And, even worse, what about praying after an argument! Now, that’s hard!

The first step into growing in intimacy with your spouse is to begin to pray for them. At first, you may pray selfishly, asking God to change them. You may ask God to help them see things your way, or to agree with you on something you want to do. Still, pray for them. Especially if you are arguing. Especially if you are in disagreement over a decision. Let yourself hear your own voice praying for your spouse. Let yourself begin to make it a habit. Get through the initial prayers and then let God begin to guide you in your prayers.

Ask your spouse “How may I pray for you?” There is nothing more amazing than knowing that they are praying for you. For me to know that my wife was praying for me made me feel like I was 6-foot tall and bulletproof. “She cares about me”, “She wants me to succeed”, “She wants me to get through this.” Although I should already know these things, her asking me how she can pray for me gave me such an amazing appreciation for her that it did something. I began to assume she has my best interests in her mind and in her heart. I began to take for granted that she was on my side. I began to assume that she wanted us to go the distance. It may cause your spouse to do the same about you.

Simple. Easy. One minute a day. Pray for your spouse.

Here is what it does

1). You begin to focus on their good qualities instead of the things that annoy you.

2). You begin to hear yourself have hopes and dreams for them. You want them to succeed.

3). You begin to see how you can help them. You become the person that “lifts” them up

PRAY TOGETHER

As we grow in intimacy with our spouse, we should start to have a desire to share more with them. We should want to begin to share our faith with them.  It should lead us to no longer have these two separate lives of faith and relationships, but to start coming together and believing together. One way to begin this step towards greater intimacy is to start to pray together.

This is not easy to do. It will seem awkward at first. “Do I pray right?” “Do I sound weird?” “Do I pray too long or too short?”

Just do it! It does not have to be a formal time of prayer. It does not have to be long. It may be a quick prayer together before leaving for work. It may be prayer together before a decision is made. Take any opportunity to hold hands with your spouse and pray. Begin to pray together as a family. Pray at meals and before bedtime.

I know for my family this has been a great experience, not just for my wife and I, but also for our children. Both our  daughters pray with us at bedtime.

For my wife and I , praying together has become a real intimate time for us. We began by praying for others in our life and for things concerning our family. At first, it was awkward. I am a long prayer. I say “Father God”  at least 45 times in each prayer. (Yes, our daughter counted once). Then I go silent to hear from God.  While my wife is very casual in her prayer life, referring to God as “The Man” and other little nuances like that.  Wendy can pray her whole prayer list in five minutes or less. Nevertheless, we began to grow together. We began to appreciate the differences in our prayer. We began to work to each others strengths and weaknesses in prayer. We began to communicate with each other in prayer, even finishing each others prayers.

As you begin to pray with your spouse, I believe that you will begin to experience to following

1). You begin to see their relationship with Christ before you

2). You begin to hear what they are passionate about

3). You begin to share with them the miracle of answered prayer

Simple. Easy. One minute per day. Pray with your spouse

PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER… TOGETHER

As important as the first two steps are, I think this one is where the real intimacy is built. As amazing as praying for your spouse is, and then praying together, this step will really give you an appreciation and a fondness for your spouse that nothing else will.

I remember the first time I prayed for my wife in front of her. Sure, I had prayed for her, and we had prayed together for others, but this was different. I was nervous. My fear was that I would embarrass her, or make her feel as though I thought she needed to change or wasn’t “good enough.” As I began to pray for her, with her, it was an amazing experience. I heard myself pray and I watched her begin to tear up. I remember after, she hugged me and thanked me.  She told me how deeply loved she felt, and how much it meant to her that I believed in her.  That she mattered to me.

I also remember her praying for me, and how that made me feel. I was so amazed at her words and her feelings. She was praying for the things that I was hoping for. She had been listening to me at night as I discussed areas I was struggling in, or things I was having difficulty with. I remember looking at her and feeling this sense of love and appreciation for her I had never felt before. It was not an emotional fleeting love, but a real love. She cared about me. She wanted me to succeed. She wanted me to be happy and to realize my hopes and my dreams. She was on my side! She believed in me.

Hearing the voice of your spouse praying for you is one of the most intimate things that can happen in your marriage. We want our spouse to believe in us. We want our spouse to come alongside us as we navigate everyday life and its trials. We want our spouse to fight for us and be on our side. For me, knowing she is on my side makes me feel like I can do anything.

What I began to realize is that praying for each other, together does three things for us

1). You begin to hear their heart for you

2). You begin to hear their hopes and desires for you

3). You begin to trust them and draw closer to them

Having faith in their faith

When we have true intimacy with our spouse, it does something incredible for our relationship with each other and our relationship with Christ. God has called us to become “one flesh.” He has called us to live in true intimacy with each other.

So, today I challenge you.  I challenge you to pray.  Pray for each other, pray together, and pray for each other… together.  See what can happen when you invite Christ into your marriage.  See what happens when you make yourself vulnerable in front of your spouse.  I think you will be amazed at how God begins to work in your life, and the power of prayer in your family.

In the Beginning

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Adam and I met in the fall of 2012, and at the time we were both very passionate followers of Jesus Christ who were both active in ministry.  We both wanted to be married for very practical reasons, and we had both decided that we had reached a point in our lives where we felt mature enough to make that kind of commitment.  

We found each other on Christian Mingle.  I know it sounds goofy, but that’s how it went down.  He was at a conference in Dallas and he saw my smile and that was it.  We emailed back and forth for a couple of months, and met that November.  We went to see Lincoln, and he learned the tough lesson of pretzel envy, always a better choice over popcorn.  I wouldn’t say that we were love at first sight, but I would say that we both knew very early, probably before meeting in person, where we wanted the relationship to go.

Then came the talk.  When Adam and I met, we already had Rebecca.  She was our daughter born to a previous relationship.  Courtship as a single parent brings its own set of challenges, and I wanted Adam to know what it meant to move into her life, as well as mine.  As a single man he had been preparing to step into the role of husband, but was he ready for the instant responsibility of a family?  Was he ready to be a father to an eight-year-old girl?  So, we met over lunch and I laid it down hard for him.  I think back on it now and I wonder if I was trying to scare him away.  Instead, that day in the booth, Adam became my daughter’s father.  Most men become fathers in the delivery room, but he became a father over a turkey club.

Adam met his daughter in December.  He was waiting at a fountain, and she was so nervous.  I gave her two quarters, and told her to bring him a wish.  They stuttered over that first meeting, but by the end of the day they were best friends, and I was the third wheel.  There is so much to say here, but that’s another story for Adam to tell.

We were married in March of the following year, and by the end of our honeymoon, we were expecting our second daughter, Erin.  Life seemed to come so fast that first year, and we got caught stumbling over all the baggage that we had both brought into the relationship.  We got lost chasing after the “American Dream” of what our family should look like.  I won’t hesitate to say that we wandered away from our calling of ministry, and ended up on the wide road.  

Now several years later, we have learned so much, and are working to bring our little family back into alignment with God’s will for our life.  We make Christ a priority in our lives and the lives of our daughters.  We feel a commitment and a calling to share what we are learning and what we have discovered.  We both feel very strongly that marriage as it is being taught and how people are struggling through is in need of support and healing, that can only be found in God’s Word and through His Son, Jesus.  We invite you to partner with us as we explore the many resources available to families and we measure them against scripture.  We invite you to follow along on our blog as Adam and I write about the struggles of marriage, parenting, and God’s teachings.  We ask you to join us as we being Living On Point.

The Higher Standard of Living

Living Life God's Way

DSCF0740On the day that Adam and I got married, we fell into the same routine as everyone else. We said, I do to each other, and then we started saying “I Do” to everything else. I don’t know if it’s because we had been alone so long that we wanted to give each other everything, or whether or not it was just what everyone else seemed to be doing. Perhaps since we were newlyweds at nearly 40, we felt like we had a lot of catching up to do.

With one daughter and one on the way, we exploded with material goods. We left our two bedroom condo and found a huge house in the best neighborhood. We went to Living Spaces and bought all brand new furniture to fill up this house. We had so many empty cupboards in this huge kitchen, that a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond came next. We spent the first year and a half collecting our stuff so that we could keep up with the Jones. Adam remembers a friend of his telling him that the president of a company deserves a house like that.

We had the two beautiful cars in the three car garage. We spent thousands of dollars on expensive summer trips, and dropped a small fortune our first Christmas on friends and family. We had so much stuff that we filled up that 3000 square foot home in the blink of an eye, and then stood there wondering where it had all come from. We were living self-serving lives of personal gratification. How two people so active in ministry could have gotten so far off track was a mystery I am still striving to understand.

This summer, Adam and I moved to the desert and a new church. I will confess that we hadn’t been going to church since our baby was born, and it was refreshing to be back in community and fellowship. As we settled back into the rhythm of life lived God’s way, we started to notice how far from His Will we had drifted. We looked at all the stuff we had collected in our three years of marriage and were convicted of our materialism. We both realized, that we weren’t living life God’s way at all. We had become seduced by the desires of the world.

Further, we realized that it didn’t make us any happier. During my periods of greatest financial struggle, I was just as happy as I was living in that huge overpriced dream house. Sure, it was nice, but God has something better in mind. He has a higher standard of living.

God’s idea of a higher standard of living has nothing to do with real estate, material goods, or vacations. It has very little to do with what’s under the Christmas tree each holiday season or what’s on the hangers in your closet. If you look into God’s Word you find people that have found happiness with very little. If you look at Christians around the world, you find people that are blessed with almost nothing. These people are happy and blessed because they are living according to God’s Higher Standard of Living.

Adam and I looked back over our own lives and we reflected on all the times in our lives that we were truly happy, and it was because we felt loved. We felt loved by our savior, Christ Jesus. We felt loved by our families in moments together. We felt loved by each other in moments of quiet stillness. We discovered that our relationship was best when we had the least. We found that our greatest happiness came from giving rather than owning. After that, the next steps were easy. We want God’s Higher Standard of Living for us and for our children.

So we started to implement this plan, and have started what we call “Downsizing,” even though it feels like we are moving up. We have been going through all of our stuff, and we have been trucking loads of books, clothes, and furniture to the local charitable thrift stores. We have been selling thousands of dollars of hobbies and collectibles on eBay and Amazon. We have also contacted our landlord and have asked if he would be willing to allow us out of our lease so we can leave our beautiful home with the pool in the backyard for something more modest. We have decided that instead of taking our children to visit Mickey and Donald, we will take them to visit Grandma and Grandpa. As cool as a week at a theme park might seem, a week with Grandma is always better.

Now that’s the immediate change, but it goes further than that. We don’t just want to let go of material goods, we want a different lifestyle. We also came up with a strict budget that doesn’t include any of the things that we are supposed to want, like trips to the movies or eating out. Instead we are focusing more on quality dinners sitting together as a family, and enjoying the movies we already own at home on the couch. Trust me, the popcorn will be a lot cheaper.

We have also included our children. We decided that we want them to not grow up separated by stuff, like technology. When we were kids our only escape was our imagination, and the only person that “liked” what we were up to was our siblings. We recognize that despite the difference in age, we want our girls to grow up depending on each other. We want them to get on each other’s nerves and have private stories that only they get. We realize that the best times that they will have together are the ones that we as their parents aren’t involved in. The late night whispers and secret adventures that only they know about. So, we’ve also decide that despite the size of our next house, our girls will be sharing a room. More than a room they will be sharing a childhood.

Adam has cut down on his work schedule and is devoting time to continuing his higher education in seminary, even if that means we have to live on less. We hope that when he finishes his Masters of Divinity that he can leave this line of work behind and move into full-time ministry. We want to be ready to go wherever we are called to go, so that we can both serve in full-time ministry.

But there’s even more than that. We want to free up our budget and our time, so that we can serve and give more. We want to create a life of financial margin, where we give on more than we live on. We don’t want to give just ten percent, we want room to give as much as we can. We want to be able to provide scholarships for kids, backpacks of school supplies, food for food banks, and so much more. We want to live on the minimum so that we can give at the maximum.

We want to live lives of testimony, where we are visibly Christians and not just because we attend church. We want to serve first, and live for ourselves second. We want to model what a life of faith looks like for our children. We want to leave this world with no material goods to will to our children but an inheritance of faith that can never be taken from them. We want to shine like the light of Christ is living inside of us.

This isn’t about us or who we are.  We aren’t judging you are calling you out for how you live.  We don’t think that we are better than anyone, because we are so far from that.  We just recognized that we were doing life wrong, and that we could do better.  I am not writing this to impress you, but to impress upon you that God has something better in mind for us.

God wants a life that is lived on purpose, intentionally with a greater goal. He calls us to live with more than just this life in mind. This isn’t about us, it’s all about Him. If we manage to reach this Higher Standard of Living, you’ll know and not because it’s written in some blog somewhere, but because you’ll see it in every aspect of who we are and who our children become.