I remember as a child hearing of Ponce de Leon’s pursuit of The Fountain Of Youth. It was said to be somewhere in Florida, and it was told he spent his life trying to find it. But he never did for there is no such fountain. And his story is most likely not true. Yet it’s intriguing all the same.
We love the idea of eternal youth. Our society spends millions of dollars convincing us that we can reverse the aging process if we’ll just buy their product. Truth be told, we will all grow old. We will all have wrinkles. And we will all die–someday. But this truth doesn’t have to be morbid.
The adage is true, “You’re only as old as you feel.” To be honest I’ve felt quite old lately, and many can relate. If youth is dependent on our feelings, then there are many young people who don’t feel their youth either.
Where am I going with this?
What if marriage was given a Fountain of Youth that kept our love vibrant and healthy? What if we could only grow more in love as the years pass instead of facing a decaying relationship? What if our relationship could experience ever-increasing intimacy? It can, but there is no fountain to bathe in or no amazing product to purchase that can guarantee such success. However, there are keys that if used, will unlock a fountain of renewal day after day, year after year. And each of us possess these keys for Christ has tucked them away in our hearts the moment we became His.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV) Emphasis added.
Imagine how marriages, yours and ours, would be continually renewed if we were to each treat our spouse as being more important than myself. This is unselfishness on display, and it is what makes a marriage grow stronger through the years. There is no secret magic fountain for that would be too easy. Marriage is hard work. Marriage is continually preferring your spouse over your own interests. Marriage has no short-cuts to godliness.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
(Philippians 2:12-13 ESV) Emphasis added
We are each responsible for our own heart. We can’t change our spouse, but we can pray for them as if their heart was our own. God is the one who is at work in us using each and every hardship for His refining purposes. When facing difficulty our first thought should be, God what are you wanting to do in my heart? Having this attitude will help us make the most of every opportunity to grow and change. And as we do this, regardless of whether or not our spouse is on board, we will see change in our marriage.
It is a great temptation to compare our responsiveness to God with our spouse’s. May I encourage you from experience to not go there? This thought-process is used by the enemy of our soul to side-track our obedience. If he can’t keep us from doing right, he’ll work on getting us to compare ourselves with our spouse and puff us up with pride. Both disobedience and pride are sins which grieve the Father. We mustn’t allow it.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
(Philippians 2:14-16 ESV) Emphasis added.
Did you catch that? “All things“? Really? But what about the times when he doesn’t do what he said he would do? What about the times she disregards my advice? What about when his/her attitude is affecting my plans, my day, my attitude? What about…? You fill in the blank. Marriage never goes according to the idea we had when we stood face-to-face on the altar vowing our love and commitment to each other.
Marriage provides a continual well-spring, all right, but it’s not of eternal youth–it’s a well-spring of constant change, and the one who needs to change is me. At least this is where my focus needs to be. If I would be as diligent in seeing my own lack as I tend to be in seeing my spouse’s lack, I guarantee my marriage would grow and mature.
How about you? Are you willing to take these three keys to unlock your own well-spring to renewal and change? If you do, I’m quite certain a year from now your marriage won’t look the same as it does today. In fact, you may have other’s wondering if you’ve found a secret to marital happiness. When they ask you can smile and say, “I sure have, would you like to know where to find it?”
Quit grumbling you say? That might be the hardest one for me. Grumbling is my families favorite pastime. In fact, recently I made an effort to grumble more. It seems I have been too cheerie. Now I occasionally win at who has the most to grumble about. I like winning.
I do believe you are right. Being positive is much healthier. I will have to work harder at influencing the rest of the family to be positive. Grumpiness is contagious and it takes a lot of positive attitude to overcome. Yeah, I think that’s what I’m gonna’ do. Thanks!
Great resolve for the New Year, Rick!
I have made an effort to be diligent about following these 3 keys, especially the last one as leaving off grumbling and disputing is rather necessary if you really desire to be a submissive (in a good healthy way) wife. I kind of applied a piece of wisdom I learned from a book on child training that I had read 25+ years ago to train myself over the years. The advice was something like, don’t say ‘no’ to children unless you need to or don’t let ‘no’ be your automatic answer to things. In other words, be deliberate about saying no, so that there are plenty of yes’s happening. ‘No’ seems to be an easy default as it’s quick and it ends the conversation and that same thing happens in the marriage relationship if we let it. I determined to try to say yes to my husband, for the most part, and I’m sure that that’s helped us have the marriage that we have. I deliberately upped my yes-ing (which is really key #1 in action) the past couple of years and the improvement is remarkable. You’re right again-thanks for the post!
I love this advice! Purposing to say yes more than we say no. I’m so glad you shared it!