[notice]Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). In this new monthly column, Jacob McMillen examines what it means for men, young and old, to father abundant life in their families, communities, businesses and churches.[/notice]
1 year of marriage is in the books.
I’d make a joke here about being an expert now, but you’ve heard that a billion times already.
The honest truth is that marriage is by far the most humbling thing I’ve ever done.
I generally tend to think rather highly of myself. Hopefully in more of a confident way than an arrogant way. I’m fairly competent at everything I try and far above average at most things. I’ve worked hard throughout my life to better myself, both for personal betterment and the betterment of others.
Most importantly, as soon as I notice something negative or lacking about myself, I immediately take measures to improve and eliminate the shortcoming. Until about 1 year ago, this strategy was proceeding brilliantly.
I’m not sure quite how to describe this, but imagine you’re poking around at a tiny leak in your sink, everything under control, only to turn around and see your living room is submerged under ten feet of water.
For me, marriage has exposed – to put it nicely – how much room I have to grow.
Looking at this precious, incredible woman of God, and realizing how much she deserves… as I said, most humbling thing I’ve ever experienced. How can I possibly value and cherish her at the level that Jesus does?
I am hopeful that I can, because He commanded me to, and He never commands us to do something without empowering us to do it.
And on this empowering and humbling journey, I’ve learned a few lessons.
- Love Is Definitely A Choice
It’s funny because I totally “knew” this one going in, but it’s crazy how quickly it really sinks in. On any given day, I’ll have moments when I feel affectionate towards my wife and moments when I feel annoyed, angry, frustrated, etc. What follows is entirely my choice.
I can either choose to love my wife, or I can choose to focus on myself.
And that’s the second thing about marriage…
- My Enjoyment of Marriage Depends On My Choice
It’s crazy how true this is. When I choose to focus on myself, I’m miserable. Literally miserable. I become over-absorbed with my own emotions and every little inconvenient thing she does that negatively affects me. I stop valuing her for the amazing woman she is, and life starts to suck.
But when I focus on loving and valuing her – when I choose to serve her and cover her weaknesses with grace – life is amazing. Our connection is incredible, and we have a ton of fun together. The little inconveniences start mattering a lot less.
Essentially, I’m saying that my enjoyment of marriage is entirely dependent on how I choose to posture my heart. When I choose love, life is amazing. When I choose to focus on me, life sucks.
- Marry Someone (And Be Someone) Who Is Teachable
One of the most incredible things I knew about my wife going into marriage was that she had a teachable heart. I knew her heart posture was set to learn and grow, and to me, that was a MUST going into marriage.
I know people who are humble and teachable, and I know people who think they are always right. The latter are insufferable and marriage would be the absolute worst place to find yourself consistently encountering such a person.
My wife and I are both stubborn and strong-willed, so teachability isn’t always at 100% for either of us in the moment. At the end of the day, however, we are both committed to understanding and learning from each other. We are constantly seeking to grow, personally and in our role as a spouse.
When you get to spend every day with someone who loves you, values you, and is committed to growing with you… life just doesn’t get any better.