Personal Striving for Christ Within Marriage

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Let it be known that everything I write in this blog post might as well have a neon sign with ten fingers pointing right at me. So please understand, myself and marriage are far from perfect. I have faith that as I learn and strive to change  myself and repent, I may someday be able to become the person that I paint here, and this in turn will strengthen my marriage.

Of everything I read this week for my marriage class, this prayer by Fenelon, a 17th century French Catholic Bishop profoundly touched my heart:

“Lord I know not what I ought to ask of thee; Thou only knowest what I need; Thou lovest me better than I know how to love myself. O Father! Give to Thy child that which he himself knows not how to ask. I dare not ask either for crosses or consolations: I simply present myself before Thee, I open my heart to Thee. Behold my needs which I know not myself; see and do according to Thy tender mercy. Smite, or heal; depress me, or raise me up: I adore all thy purposes without knowing them; I am silent; I offer myself in sacrifice; I yield myself to Thee; I would have no other desire than to accomplish Thy will. Teach me to pray. Pray thyself in me. Amen.”

(I found this prayer in the book Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage by Goddard, on page 48. )

I often feel this way. Our mortal mind understands so little. God knows each of us. He knows what we need, want, desire so much greater than we ourselves do. Trials help us to become who He needs us to become. I believe whole-heartedly that putting our life and will in the Lord’s hands is the only way to find true happiness, but I still struggle. If we can give up all expectations and trust in the fact that the Lord is there for us, that He knows what is best for us. In doing this, He will answer our prayers beyond our wildest dreams. To quote Goddard once more, “The cure for cancerous expectations is humble submission- a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”

In marriage, it takes two people trying their hardest to do God’s will. In this way, we shed our imperfections, irritations, and try to love outward with a more Christlike love. God stands at the top of a triangle and we are at each corner. In turn, our coming toward God brings us closer to each other creating a unity with God and marriage.  If we are loving our spouse with a more Christlike love as we come closer to Christ, we will be more understanding, forgiving, and loving of their imperfections and they of ours.

Unfortunately, we are all mortal, imperfect, and struggling. Coming unto Christ every day in theory seems easy but it is so hard to put into practice .  Each partner in marriage is not always trying their hardest each day to come unto Christ. Their are inevitable ebbs and flows of faith through life. This is where FAITH comes in. “Faith is the stubborn resolve to see God blessing us in ALL circumstances. Even in our struggles and disappointments, faith requires us to believe God is ministering to us.” (Goddard, p. 41) We can have faith, even if our marriage or life is a mess. It is better to be at the bottom of the staircase of Marriage looking up to God, than to be at the top of the staircase looking down.

Bruce C. Hafen wrote in his book called Covenant Hearts, “The story of Adam and Eve is the pattern for our own marriages, our lives, and the personal meaning of the Atonement. The story of Christ’s life is the story of giving the Atonement. But the life story of Adam and Eve is the story of receiving the Atonement. Especially in that sense, their lives and their marriages set the pattern for our own. Because they received the Atonement of Christ, Adam and Eve were able to learn from their experience without being condemned by it… If, therefore, God allows us to learn from our experience without condemning us for it, how much more should we be willing to let our companion learn from their experience without condemning them for it.”

Let us look to God. Let us pray to see in our spouse what God sees. Together, God can make more of us and our marriages than we can alone.

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