The past few months have literally flown by. Between keeping up with our kids busy schedules, our own busy schedules, pouring into friends’ lives and squeezing in some get-away-family-camping time we have been missing the opportunity to post for Marriage Mondays. But…seasons! There’s a time for everything, right? So…back to it and making time to encourage marriages…one of our many passions!
Over the past month, we have had the blessed opportunity to pour into some of our dear friends…walking alongside them thru a pretty difficult journey. Allen has supported them more by allowing me to spend a good bit of time ministering to them. Our kids have supported them by sharing their mama for a bit and helping with their kids and I have supported them with my time. What a beautiful privilege. (and yes, this totally is related to marriage so hang in there…it’s coming. hee-hee). Allen has been so generous in sharing me…evenings and days…and I know that’s not always easy for him, but he does it so willingly. This man is always so supportive and encouraging. He truly is my biggest fan! Can’t imagine doing life without him. I digress.
So…all this to say as I was reading in 2 Corinthians 8, I was overcome by the encouragement Paul was giving the Corinthians to be generous. In verse 3, he mentions that “they gave not only what they could afford, but far more, and they did it of their own free will”. Then it goes on to say “they begged us for the privilege of sharing in the gift for believers…they even did more than we had hoped…their first action was to give themselves to the Lord” Okay, so what in the world does all this have to do with marriage? Hmm. Paul is obviously talking to the church (the bride of Christ) not to a spouse really, but it dawned on me that this is totally what Allen does for me and very much a part of what makes our marriage so beautiful. He ALWAYS gives more than he can afford…more time, more money, more energy, more work, more late evenings to listen to me process about the day. You get the idea :-)
Let me unpack this a bit. Allen gives more than he can afford to our entire family, but he has especially always done this for me. He always defers to me when we are out shopping and rarely thinks of his own needs. When we go out to eat (if the budget is tight), he will almost always get the cheaper menu item so I can have what I want. So many evenings, he will stay up late (because I’m a night owl) to snuggle with me and watch a show or listen to me share about the day, etc. He gives up almost all of his evenings (after his full time job) to bless us all by changing our oil, washing our cars, cleaning our pool, etc. This man could be doing anything with his evenings, yet he is home blessing all of us (especially me, because all you mamas know that when your man blesses your children, he blesses you, right? ;-). And while it does cost him at times, I truly believe he receives a rich harvest for his generosity. He is loved dearly by his family and especially by his wife. His example of “giving more than he can afford” spills over onto me and makes me want to bless him in the same way. Please know, I’m not talking about going into “debt” financially or physically, etc and giving more than you can afford in an unhealthy way, but in a way of just giving of what you already have and not putting yourself first. This is what Allen has always done for me. I am bursting to give you this one example of this from our early on relationship…taking it wayyyy back yall! Ha-ha.
Before we even began dating, we went on a youth ski trip together. We had been good friends (best of friends really) for several months at this point, but he had a girlfriend still. So a romantic relationship was out of the question, but its safe to say our hearts were very drawn to each other. Cheesy? maybe but true. LOL. So, as we drove from South Florida to Virginia it obviously got cooler. I was not really at all prepared for this kind of weather (um…we were going skiing…hello! Not sure what I was thinking. haha). But as we all piled out of the church bus at a Walmart near our lodging accomodations in Virginia, and we all started walking in, I realized quickly my mistake of leavnign my coat on the bus. Allen didn’t even think twice but took his off and gave it to me to stay warm. And that is how it’s always been! Truly. May seem like a small thing but those are the things he does on a daily basis that make me love him more and more. He constantly gives of himself to show me love…as Christ does for the church and as the church is supposed to do for Christ in return (according to 2 Corinthians).
Not only does he give generously, but he also gives of his own free will. Most of the time before I can even ask for something, he sees my need and is many times “begging for the privilege of sharing” (when I resist. heehee). He insists on blessing me continuously even when I tell him to put himself first. And I know it must not always come easy for him, but it’s what he chooses. I am sure he doesn’t always “feel” like giving of his own free will generously, yet he does.
And when that verse refers to “they gave more than we had hoped”…that again defines a good marriage! We should always err on the side of giving more than our spouses could hope for. Again, not in unhealthy ways but in a way that reveals true love. After all, can there really be true love without true sacrifice? Allen has given to me way more than I could hope for. Of course there are many times we have struggled financially but if at all within his means, he gives and gives to me to show me love. This goes both ways tho. I am continually aware of his generosity and love serving him and honoring and loving him whenever the opportunity arises. He is so easy to love.
Okay, I may have lost some of you by now. Either from the length of this post or from the sappiness of it. Haha. I know I’m making Allen out to sound like a saint and some of you husbands may think you can’t possibly be this to your wife, but I am telling you now, it’s possible and may just give you the marriage you never dreamed possible. The generous giving began with Allen. I was not really a generous giver in the beginning of our marriage, but his continual, unconditional, abundantly generous love poured out on me makes me love him more daily and makes me WANT to be generous to him as well. His love has changed my heart. Of course, he is human, as we all are and our love for each other is imperfect. We have both messed up plenty of times but are willing to admit it, forgive, then try again. (think: lather, rinse, repeat - admit shortcomings, forgive, love, repeat. It’s a process, y’all!).
However NONE of this would be possible (and truly long lasting) without Allen and I both “first giving ourselves to the Lord” as 2 Corinithians 8 mentions “their first action was to give themselves to the Lord”. This is what we have to do…every single day of our lives (sometimes moment by moment). Without giving up our own agendas, ideas, opinions, thoughts, selfishness…to the Lord and letting him fill us up with HIS perfect love, there’s no way we could give to each other so generously. It wouldn’t even be possible because we are so selfish in our own flesh (all of us, but especially this chickadee :-).
For those of you who like bullet points and are just desperate for the quick summary, here goes:
First give yourselves TO THE LORD (if you haven’t already) - It’s out of the overflow of His love in your heart that you’ll be able to give to your spouse (especially when it’s hard. Because it will be - many, many times).
Give GENEROUSLY - Don’t just give a little husband and wives…give a lot! and do it often! It will revolutionize your marriage!
Give MORE than you can afford - when you think you’ve given all you can…give a little more. Whether that’s time, money, energy, compassion, patience - just keep on giving. Of course this works best when both spouses are giving more than they can afford and one of you isn’t being sucked dry, but I will tell you Im sure there are times when Allen felt sucked dry in our marriage and the abundant love given in that time has changed the other one’s heart. So of course, you need to be wise in this and not deplete yourself completely so that you have nothing to give to anyone (unhealthy giving, for sure), but avoiding the mentality of “I’ve given way more in this relationship than he/she has” is kind of where I’m going with this. Keep on loving. Keep on giving.
Give OF YOUR OWN FREE WILL - And whatever you do, please please don’t wait for your spouse to get desperate for you to pay them some attention or give of your time, money, love, etc. While it is important for us to each communicate our needs to one another, it’s not healthy to put off investing in your marriage and wait until your spouse is begging for love. So…give your love freely and generously!
Our hope and prayer for you and your marriage is that you will love each other deeply from the heart and do whatever it takes to make your marriage strong and lasting! It’s a lot of work and sacrifice, but worth every moment.
The prize is worth the price!
Cheering you on,
Allen & Carol