On March 17th our lives came to a screeching halt. No more meetings; no more friends gathering; no more church services together; no more date nights to our favorite places; no more life as we had known it. At first the cancelations felt like a relaxing reprieve, like being on vacation when you hadn’t planned it. It felt good to cook, stay in pj’s all day and catch up on favorite shows or movies we had wanted to see. We spent time reading, doing puzzles, gardening and doing some of our very own DRAB date nights. (DRAB stands for “does not require a babysitter).
Then, it got old. I’d wake up in the morning bothered with the thought–here we go again. It was a struggle to think of something to break up the monotony.
The beaches were just starting to open, and we were hopeful to have the chance to soak up some vitamin D. yet the weather kept us inside. It started raining all day everyday for days–making the temptation to be bummed difficult to resist. Living in the Sunshine State we aren’t used to gray skies–unless it’s our afternoon thunderstorm that blows in around 3p, and clears up by 4.
On the heels of the quarantine, our country plummeted into a crisis worse than COVID19; George Floyd was murdered and we all saw it in horror. Our hearts were broken, and our anger stirred. The circumstances that got us here weren’t new, and the weight of it all seemed overwhelming. The need for justice for our black friends was finally being heard. It’s true black lives matter and my heart was broken for the struggle that has been their reality for centuries. Not knowing what to do or say to help made me discouraged and blue.
Maybe you’re on the front lines and you haven’t had a moment to rest. Your circumstances are different, but similar in that you are also longing for it to end.
It seemed insignificant to write about marriage in the midst of it all, but this is what God has called us to do. We aren’t to write only when things are going well and we see our path clearly before us. It’s all the more important to write when we are in the midst of the struggle, trying to figure it out.
I must admit, this post is as much for me as it is for you. I’m not sure where it will end, but I’m trusting God is leading my writing to encourage us all.
So, what DO we do when life is like a replay of the book of Job and we are bothered, bummed and blue? I believe there are five practical things we can do to get us started. This list is just that–a beginning to help us avoid the downward spiral.
- Lean in to each other and talk about how you’re feeling. Just because you’re both experiencing the same situation doesn’t mean you’re processing it the same. This is one of the advantages of marriage–having someone to talk with you through difficulty. Most times what comes of it is something you wouldn’t have discovered on your own.
- Pray together. God is not surprised by this fiery trial we are facing, nor should we be. He is at work always making a way in the wilderness for those who are His. 1 Peter 4:12, 13 ESV says: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” Did you catch that? God wants us to rejoice in the fact that we are suffering. That makes no sense to those who don’t know Him, but to us it is the hope for which we live. His glory is why we rejoice in all things!
- Take time to list out the things that are specifically bothering you. Many times just writing them down can help us let go of the burden and give it to God.
- Be content with what you’ve been given. There’s that word again, my word for 2020 – Contentment. I looked up the scripture where Paul shared how he had learned the secret of being content in all circumstances. In our current crisis it seems wrong to be content doesn’t it? I don’t want life to be this way. I don’t want to wear face masks when going to the store. I don’t want to read another account of racism and hate. I don’t want life to be like it is. But God is saying to be content. “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” What is that secret? Acknowledging that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
- Ask Christ for strength to face the day. Each morning I wake up realizing my need for Him. I ask Him to help me put on kindness towards my husband primarily and everyone else whom I will meet during the day. Kindness doesn’t come naturally for any of us; at least not the kind we need. The kindness we need is unselfish and imitates Christ’s kindness to us.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with one another and forgive any complaint you may have against someone else. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one body. And be thankful.”Colossians 3:12-15 ESV
This last scripture is rich with what we need; we need to be clothed with hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. In what ways are you loving your spouse with these qualities? In what ways to you need Christ to help you change?
I don’t know about you, but I feel much better having leaned in to hear God’s heart on all that is weighing on me. He is not surprised that we struggle. After all we are only human. We need Him to lift our gaze to His throne of grace, which will never be exhausted. Even when we’re bothered, bummed and blue.
Date Night Prompt: Plan a quiet evening or afternoon together to talk about these five points. Read them aloud to each other and take time to listen to what your spouse has to say.