Pt.1: Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God……
Some of you remember those words. What a day! After months and months of preparation, you made it. Borderline crazy!! On the brink of throwing in the towel!! Asking yourself, did it really take all of that? Exhausted, yet excited for that moment when you will walk down that aisle, gaze into the face of the love of your life and say “I do.” A wonderful time of celebration with family and friends. A time of laughter, tears, hugs, words of wisdom and unwelcomed advice.
Now what? My goal is to reunite you and your spouse into that place called Holy Matrimony. I have found over the years and through my times of counseling that the fires have gone out in hundreds of marriages for various reasons. In some cases the fire was not even blazing when that couple walked down the aisle. Not a good start, but I want you to finish strong!
I want you to listen with your heart and not to your emotions as you go on this journey with me. I want to remind you that marriage is an honorable estate, instituted of God, and therefore not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, soberly, advisedly, and in the fear of God.
Some of you are saying right now….. “Mama D, pump your brakes girl! That is not how I entered into my marriage.” Some of you may be saying……
- We had a shotgun wedding.
- We went to the justice of the peace.
- We wrote our own vows and that language was not included in it.
Whether it’s one of the items above or you have some to add, I submit to you that to keep that marriage strong or make it stronger, you must recognize that regardless of your situation, “marriage is an honorable estate, instituted by God” and that’s a good thing. Once you recognize and acknowledge that marriage is God ordained, you have taken the first step towards strengthening your union.
I don’t know what state your marriage is in, but my goal is to help you to strengthen those areas that are weak, build up those places that are torn down and to hopefully give you some nuggets that will keep your marriage fresh, alive and exciting. There is still hope!
Let’s first establish the fact that no marriage is perfect, but we strive towards perfection. We will not obtain perfection in this life, but striving towards it will certainly help create a happier, healthier union.
We didn’t have it ‘all together’ when we said “I do,” did we? There are some issues and baggage that we brought into our marriage that we should have thrown into the dumpster before we crossed the threshold. Don’t fret, we still have time! The trash man comes every week. I say ‘we’ because even after 34 years of marriage, I’m still working at it! We all know that marriage is a work in progress….daily!
Psssst….hey wives, I want to pull you to the side and chat with you for a moment. Now, put your pointer finger down. Stop trying to make him perfect, because you’re not perfect. I would like to share something with you that was shared with me many years ago. You will chuckle, but you will hear the message loud and clear.
The Husband Store
A store that sells new husbands has opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates:
You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the value of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The shopper may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!
So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband. On the first floor the sign on the door reads:
Floor 1 – These men have Jobs.
She is intrigued, but continues to the second floor, where the sign reads:
Floor 2 – These men have Jobs and love kids.
That’s nice,’ she thinks, ‘but I want more.’ So she continues upward. The third floor sign reads:
Floor 3 – These men have Jobs, love kids, and are extremely good looking.
‘Wow,’ she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going. She goes to the fourth floor and the sign reads:
Floor 4 – These men have jobs, love kids, are drop-dead good looking and help with housework.
‘Oh, mercy me!’ she exclaims, ‘I can hardly stand it!’ Still, she goes to the fifth floor and the sign reads:
Floor 5 – These men have jobs, love kids, are drop-dead good looking, help with housework, and have a strong romantic streak.
She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor, where the sign reads:
Floor 6 – You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.
Pt 2: It’s time to start loving YOU!
As we continue on this marital journey we need to dig deeper into our hearts, minds and souls to discover who we are. You may be asking the question, “What does that have to do with my marriage?” I’m really glad that you asked. If you are not happy with who you are, everyone around you will be affected and infected by it. I have found that this has been a major part of the demise of many marriages. We jump in expecting our spouse to complete us; to make us whole; to show us the way; to define us, to approve us. These things are not what we should be looking for or dependent on in a relationship. In most cases if you are depending on someone else to define who you are…you will miss the mark. God is the only one that holds our purpose and destiny in His hands.
It’s time to start loving YOU! Loving and knowing yourself is a key to a happy life. When two people, who have been joined together in Holy Matrimony come to a place of knowing who they are and loving that person, they have just found one of the major keys to opening a treasure chest filled with nuggets for a successful marriage. Please understand that in loving yourself I’m not talking about being arrogant, conceited, prideful, pompous or self indulged. I am not talking about having a “I’m better than you” attitude or a “I have arrived and you haven’t” personality. I’m simply talking about knowing that you have been created in God’s image and likeness and you are complete in Him. I know that may sound far fetched to some of you…but it’s a fact. That being said…take a look at yourself and in spite of what you see in the mirror, you have to believe that there is greatness inside of you, screaming to come out.
Once you become comfortable in your own skin you will experience the shedding of some internal weights, such as:
- Self pity
- Low self esteem
- Other (I’m sure you can add to the list)
These weights may not all drop off at once, because it’s a process but if you are determined to lose that internal weight…..you will!!
I want to leave you with some inspirational quotes that will hopefully give you a jumpstart towards loving yourself more:
“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness” (Robert Morely)
“If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.” (Barbara De Angelis)
“Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude towards ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.” (Wilfred Peterson)
“The first step on the road to romance is you. Loving yourself opens the door for another to truly do the same.” (Laura Sue Brockway)
“Love yourself unconditionally, just as you love those closest to you despite their faults” (Les Brown)
“Love yourself instead of abusing yourself” (Karoline Kurkova)
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” (Lucille Ball)
Pt 3: The Importance of Forgiveness
Most of you are familiar with “The Lord’s Prayer.” Within that prayer there is a request to God to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Today we are going to address the importance of forgiving. There is healing in forgiving. Unforgiveness is like a cancer. It will spread quickly, if you don’t catch it in time and treat it. Many marriages are suffering today because of unforgiveness. We have brought that cancer into the marriage in the form of past hurts, past disappointments, past failures, broken promises and bad relationships, just to name a few. Maybe you didn’t bring unforgiveness into your marriage, but at one point it reared its ugly head.
You can’t walk in a place of wholeness until you forgive. There is freedom in forgiveness! We must learn how to forgive others as well as ourselves. Forgiveness is the oil of relationships. The Apostle Paul says in Phillipians 3:13-14 “I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Forgiveness will bring healing to your marriage and to your life. If you have brought unforgiveness into the marriage it is not fair for your spouse to suffer because of what someone else did or did not do. If you are walking in a place of unforgiveness, it’s time to walk out of it…..today. God wants to do a new thing in your life. A word from the Lord in Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” What an awesome promise!
God wants to give you beauty for the ashes in your life. He wants to turn your scars into stars and give you power in your zero hour. He wants to give you the wings of an eagle so that you can soar! Don’t remain the victim of the consequences of unforgiveness forever. It’s time to break the vicious cycle once and for all. Forgiveness may be hard, but practicing it can also give you the freedom to live a better life – and even take your romantic relationship to a whole new level!
Are you ready to do it? Let me give you a few helpful quotes to get you started on the road of forgiveness:
“I can forgive, but I cannot forget is only another way of saying, ‘I will not forgive.’ Forgiveness ought to be like a canceled note—torn in two and burned up so that it never can be shown against one.” (Paul Boese)
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future” (Les Brown)
“Forgive yourself of your faults and your mistakes and move on” (E.H. Chapin)
“The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness.” (Henry Ward Beecher)
“The supreme act of courage is that of forgiving ourselves.” (Martin Luther King)
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.” (Ann Landers)
“One pardons to the degree that one loves” (Lauter)
“Forgiveness unleashes joy. It brings peace. It washes the slate clean. It sets all the highest values of love in motion. In a sense, forgiveness is Christianity at its highest level.” (George MacDonald)
Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. The first step in forgiveness is the willingness to forgive.