This week's 'thought' comes to you from Gary Thomas, and is taken from his book, "Simply Sacred." It has to do with the blessings of a soul filled with God. It caught my eye because just yesterday I was having this same exact conversation with two different individuals!
As one who frequently counsels with people who are married, and those who are looking to get married, I always seek to share what Thomas shares in this post today. For if one simply grasps this one principle, it saves a lot of needless heartache. And, of course, it need not be restricted to marriage. It can benefit any relationship, be it friendships, parent/child relationships, church relations, etc. Enjoy.
A Soul Filled With God
"Personal worship is an absolute necessity for a strong marriage. It comes down to this: If I stop receiving from God, I start demanding from others. Instead of appreciating and loving and serving others, I become disappointed in them. Instead of cherishing my wife, I become aware of her shortcomings. I take out my frustrations with a less-than-perfect life and somehow blame her for my lack of fulfillment.
But when my heart gets filled by God's love and acceptance, I am set free to love instead of worrying about being loved. I'm motivated to serve instead of becoming obsessed about whether I'm being served. I'm moved to cherish instead of feeling unappreciated.
A wife complains about a lack of spiritual intimacy in her relationship with her husband. "He's never been what you might call a spiritual leader," she says, and this has become almost an obsession for her -- as if her own spiritual health depends on her husband suddenly becoming mature.
Spiritual intimacy is a legitimate desire, but whenever we place our happiness in the hands of another human being, we guarantee ourselves some degree of disappointment. This is why worship sets us free. It meets our most basic need -- to rest in the fact that we are known and loved, that we have a purpose, and that our eternal destiny and delight is secure -- so lesser needs (including spiritual companionship) serve the role of an occasional dessert rather than our main meal.It's simply not fair to ask our spouse to fulfill us. No one can. If we expect our spouse to be God for us, our spouse will fail every day and on every account. Not only that, should our disappointment lead us to divorce, our second, third, and even fourth spouse will fail us too!
There is no one else who can love us like God, with a steady and giving love. When the one thing we seek is to dwell in God's house, gaze on his beauty, and seek him in his temple (Psalm 27:4), our soul's sense of desperate need is met in our heavenly Father's arms. Then we leave the temple and find tremendous joy in giving, loving, and serving rather than in keeping close accounts as to whether we are being loved or being served."
One of the most helpful things any couple can learn (and the earlier the better) is that their spouse does not have the ability to make them happy. There are many things a spouse can do, but making their spouse happy and fulfilled is not one of them.
To understand this is especially important for the engaged and newly married, who often enter marriage with this fanciful falsehood ingrained in their minds through romantic books and movies which play on our utopian wants, and not life's realities. Surely the refusal to accept this truth is one of the factors that has fueled the rising divorce statistics where a husband/wife leaves their spouse in search of another, hoping the next one will supply the happiness and fulfillment #1 or #2 could not.
To place such an impossible and unrealistic expectation on another human being sets that person up for failure, frustration, and anger. It's like asking that person to take a small cup and fill a bath tub with large cracks throughout and no plug in the drain!
Yet it also sets the expectant one up for a life of disappointment, disillusionment, frustration, and anger, as well as feeding the blame game. For whether it's verbalized or not, spouses who have not realized this truth will often think (regarding their partner): "If only they were more ______ and would do __________, then I'd be happy."
The answer is "No, you wouldn't." For true inner contentment and happiness doesn't come from others. It comes as the soul is filled with the presence of God, and learns to rest in the Gospel truths of God's pardon, love, delight, and acceptance of us in Jesus. Then, from that inner soul-fullness, one is enabled to move out and joyfully share their life with others, instead of constantly seeking to get from them what that person is unable to give.
To Him alone who can fill our cup till it overflows in glad service to others, Pastor Jeff