Most conflicts Edric and I have in marriage are sparked by petty issues. And two days ago, I made a mountain out of a mole hill when Edric made a comment that made me feel insecure. He did not mean it negatively (he explained this), but I got really hurt. I clung to the hurt. I let it give birth to all kinds of negative thinking, judgmental labeling and ugly behavior from me.
The evening of that same day, I turned off my emotionally-vulnerable switch. I was silent and disinterested when we went out on our date. I knew that my spirit was not right, but my pride compelled me to make Edric FEEL my hurt. So I let the issue drag on and ruin the evening. Every instance I could, I rehashed the discussion we had and how it made it feel. It was pathetic yakkity-yakking. Edric tried to be incredibly patient and understanding, but at a certain point, he withdrew emotionally, too. Looking back, I don’t blame him. I was expecting him to fix my feelings when it wasn’t his responsibility. It was within my control to process things from a spiritual perspective, but I chose to be immature.
Why did this happen? I reflected on the circumstances leading up to my emotional crime and I recognized three things that I did wrong.
First, we had been counseling several people during the week and I had pridefully thought, How can people do the things they do? If I was in their shoes, I would have responded with more “spiritual maturity.” I was exalting myself as someone who was wiser, more righteous. No one knew this, but God did. And I was put to a test that I embarrassingly failed. I did not do what I often tell others to do (including my own kids). “Process circumstances from a spiritual perspective.” “Trust the good in people. Don’t judge.” “Humble yourself when you are wrong.” “Pray when you are angry.” Blah, blah, blah. I couldn’t even follow my own advice.
What did God teach me? Apart from Him, there is nothing good in me. I am very much prone to sinful thinking and behavior. Growing up with bible knowledge and walking with the Lord for a long time does not make me less vulnerable to sin. I need to be filled with the Spirit moment by moment. In God’s eyes, there is no Christian superiority. We are sinners saved by grace, who constantly need grace to make the right choices and decisions, and who will end by grace.
Second, I allowed Edric’s comment to steal my joy. I made him responsible for my happiness. But that was not a fair expectation.
Yes, Edric tries his best to make me happy and it’s a blessing when he does, but to be dependent on him for my happiness is a sure route to disappointment. In fact, whenever I make people my source of joy, I become an emotional yoyo. If they treat me the way I want to be treated then I am up, and when they do things that fall short of my expectations, I feel low.
God reminded me that He is my joy. Not people. Not circumstances. This joy is a deep satisfaction in who God is, his love, his presence, and what he has done for me.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart. (Psalm 32:11 NASB)
It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night, with the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music upon the lyre. For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands. How great are Your works, O LORD… (Psalm 92:1-5 NASB)
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him. (Psalm 28:7 NASB)
Third, I was struggling with the sin of vanity and pride. The comment Edric made was about my figure. (This is dangerous ground to tread on for any woman!) Usually, he is very positive. But, I felt discouraged when he identified a body part that was a problem area for me…something I was already insecure about. So I pounced on him in retaliation.
I was angry at Edric for making me feel inadequate. So I became frantic…what can I do to remedy this? How can I “fix “my body? Even after Edric assured me that this didn’t mean he was any less attracted to me, I still didn’t believe him. I was making my self-worth dependent on the physical. How embarrassingly shallow of me! Waaahhhh!
God told me, “be content and grateful.” Why are you imposing a standard on yourself that is making you miserable? The thoughts you are entertaining are not from me. So I confessed my wrong before Him and I thanked Him for the way he made me to be. It was not easy but it liberated me from being so consumed with physical appearance.
By the next morning, God had recalibrated my heart. I went up to Edric who was preparing for a morning bible study, hugged him, and said, “I want to apologize for my behavior last night. I was very wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” He teased me and gave me a hard time for a little bit, but he did forgive me. Whatever pain I had nursed also disappeared.
Edric and I are back to sweetness and lovey-doveyness. We don’t get marriage right all the time, but I am thankful that we are committed to having the right kind of marriage — A God-centered versus a self-centered relationship! All thanks be to God who makes our marriage work one day at a time!