Archive for the ‘ love ’ Category

Thinking on Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)

A friend asked me what I thought “fear of the Lord” means in Proverbs 1:7:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Many of us will know the textbook answer, but often it is good to think on what we already know, to continually remind ourselves of the Gospel (as Paul reminded believers of the Gospel in 1 Cor 15: 1-2: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.”)

I looked at several different translations of the Bible, all of which used the word “fear” but The Message version says “the first step in learning is bowing down to God.”

Matthew Henry’s commentary uses the word “reverence.”

I don’t ever read “fear of God” as the emotion we experience as we are afraid of something or anxious.  This type of emotional fear is not of God.  In the same way, I don’t see “love for God” as a warm, fuzzy emotion.  “Fear” and “love” are much deeper and are more evidenced by our attitude towards God and our behaviors than some fleeting emotion.

“Bowing down” implies making oneself less than, humble to, obedient to [God].  “Reverence” and “respect” imply working from the basic assumption that God is smarter that us, bigger than us, and more of an authority than us, so that even when we don’t “get” his law or “get” what He is doing, we work from the assumption that it is we who are flawed in our perceptions, not Him.  Thus we seek to follow Him and seek to know Him better.

I am reminded of Phil 2:7-8

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death —

even death on a cross!

It is true that my obedience or submitting myself to God’s law does not make Him love me any more.  Rather, I love Him (because He first loved me) so I act in obedience (and because He gives me the grace to do so).  Yet the more I grow in maturity, the more experience I have with obedience yielding good results (in general, the fruit of the Spirit – joy, peace, etc.).  Thus I am more likely to want to be obedient in the future.  My past obedience leads (not to God loving me more but) to increased knowledge of God and increased awareness of how He is working in me, how he is using my obedience in my life.

I think that knowledge of God and His character is synonymous with love for God (and maybe even love for His law/ obedience to it).

Fearing God, which seems to entail bowing down before Him in obedience and submission, leads to knowledge of His character and His love for me.

I do not learn God’s character or grow closer to Him by disobedience (“fools despise wisdom and instruction”).  A fool (or an unbeliever or someone who wishes to go his own way) does not learn about God’s character and His goodness.  A fool is blind to these things and does not get to experience the fruit of God’s love.  The fool does not get to experience deeper relationship with or knowledge of God.

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Marriage Purpose Statement

As a new wife, I am hungry for wisdom on how to be a Godly wife.  I am currently reading Linda Dillow’s book, “What is it Like to be Married to Me?”  She suggests that wives imagine themselves at their own funeral, their husbands as the key speakers who will reflect back on the role their wives played.  She asks wives what they would want their husbands to say, what character traits they would have wanted to exude, how their husbands will remember them.

Dillow uses this exercise as a springboard for wives to write a Marriage Purpose Statement, which is a way for wives to be intentional about their goals for their marriage.  By thoughtfully articulating our goals and prayerfully surrendering them to God over time, I believe God will be faithful in helping us be the wives we long to be.  We will never be able to perfectly live out our goals, because we are sinful.  We can use our Purpose Statement as a guide for prayer for our marriage, and we can reflect on it on anniversaries, examining where we need God’s help and thanking Him for answered prayers.

Here is the Marriage Purpose Statement I came up with, along with Scripture references:

My purpose is to glorify God through my marriage to Smith. 1 Corinthians 10:31- So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I choose to view struggle in my marriage as God’s plan for sanctification and for my good.  Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

I aim to focus on my own sin and wrong responses.  My prayer is “Lord, change ME.”  Matthew 7:3 – And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?

I will be encouraging, cultivate an attitude of thankfulness, and dwell on the positive.  Philippians 4:6 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

I will consider Smith better than myself and aim to serve him through my actions.  Mark 9:35 – Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.

I aim to be a Godly wife, to love Smith with a gentle and quiet spirit.  1 Peter 3 – You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

I will respect Smith through my actions and submit to his authority as God commanded.  Ephesians 5:22&33 – For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. . . The wife must respect her husband.

Eleven Things About Marriage

 

Eleven things I love about marriage.

  1. I no longer have to go to social events alone.  Better yet, I now have someone with whom I can avoid social events, since we both loathe being around people.
  2. There is a deep freedom in being loved.  I get to be myself without fear of rejection or abandonment.
  3. I am learning to understand myself better.  Interacting with another person brings emotions or character traits to the surface.  For example, I notice that I feel warm and safe when Smith spends time talking to me and listening to me, and I realize what a value quality time is to me. 
  4. Companionship.  Going to the mall or riding around in the car used to be boring, but Smith and I laugh together as we both notice the same quirks about people.
  5. Being part of a team.  I have conversations in my head with Smith during the day, like he is always there.  He is a part of me.  I know he is on my side, and I no longer have to do everything alone.
  6. Smith gives me purpose.  God brought us together as husband and wife for a purpose, and though we cannot fully understand God’s plan, I am assured that He does have a wonderful purpose for bringing us into each others’ lives.  I now feel like there is someone out there who needs me, who is counting on me to be there.
  7. Smith is strong in areas where I am not, and I benefit from it.  Smith is a tech whiz, so he helps me with all my technological needs.  He is also very selfless, and because he is so giving and kind, he is teaching me how to serve others better.  Smith is gracious and forgiving, and he helps my relationship with God because I understand more about God’s grace and forgiveness.  Smith is gifted at understanding the Bible in a much deeper way than I am, and he helps me to discover more about God’s word.
  8. Tortilla chips with homemade guacamole.  And chocolate covered raisins.  Smith loves these fun foods and typically has them stockpiled.  I would never buy these for myself (I tend to see them as a frivolous use of money and calories), but because he is so great at sharing, I get to reap the benefits of eating some foods that actually have flavor.
  9. Learning about the male psyche.  Smith and I are very similar, yet he has relational needs that I don’t have, and vice versa.  I am intrigued by our different wiring, and I am eager to learn more.
  10. Worshipping together.  Sitting next to Smith in church, worshipping God and learning more about Him, makes my love for both God and Smith well up in my chest.  I am so thankful to God for bringing Smith into my life, and I am thankful to Smith for helping me understand God better.
  11. Affection.  I love affection.  And now I can have a hug whenever I need it.

Appreciation

A friend of mine posted the following comment on facebook, ironically right after a post indicating that her relationship status went from “in a relationship” (of several years) to “it’s complicated” to “single.”

“i would love to hear my friends–those in great relationships/marriages and those who hope to be in one someday–share what are the things that your partner does (or you want them to do) to make you feel loved and appreciated.”

 

Here was my response, which took up about 1,847 comment posts to fit it all in the allotted space.

I am writing in part because I am intrigued by your comment about what people do to make others feel appreciated, particularly in light of the relationship status change.  I’m curious why you posted that question.  In any event, I have been thinking about it and wanted to write you a few things on the topic.

I agree with the commenter who mentioned the Five Love Languages.  I highly recommend that book, or at least a perusal of the website (www.5lovelanguages.com).  It seems that a lot of conflict in relationships comes from disparate love languages (um, or character issues . . . ).  I feel extremely appreciated by Smith because we (miraculously) have all the same love languages, in the same order.  He showers me with hugs and affection, our quality time is meaningful and I feel very connected to him, and he gives me lots of words of affirmation.  Those are our top 3, in that order. 

Additionally, he respects me and treats me as an equal, and that is huge to me.  He confides in me and treats me as his best friend.  He does so many little things for me.  Over the weekend, we stopped at QT, and I used the bathroom while he got a fountain beverage (some extreme-caffeine concoction he came up with).  I met him outside when I was done and he asked if I had wanted something to drink.  I don’t normally get soft drinks, but I was tired and thirsty, so I told him I wanted a Diet Dr Pepper in a kids’ cup.  Keep in mind that he usually gets the 44 oz. drinks, so carrying a teeny 12 oz kids’ cup is probably a blow to his manhood.  But he let me sit in the car while he went back inside and got my drink.  It is a small thing, but he does thousands of things like this.  I have never in my life been treated this way by a guy (hence, it makes me appreciate him immensely, and he likes feeling appreciated because that’s what men want, and that motivates him to keep doing things like that).  Another thing I’ve learned, while we’re on the subject, is that it is the man’s role to do the things that make a woman feel special and valued, and it is the woman’s role to be receptive to and appreciate his efforts (rather than the woman trying to always DO for the man).  If you think about it, this is our physical/physiological role as well (men as pursuer, woman as receiver).    We were designed this way, with different but equally important roles.

None of these things is necessarily the root of having a good relationship, though.  I am not sure where your beliefs lie, and I don’t want to preach.  I used to “believe in God” but didn’t have a real understanding of Him.  Over the past 5 years or so, I have come into a deeper understanding of and relationship with Him.  I personally feel that He brought Smith into my life and intended for us to be each others’ spouse and best friend, and because of that, He equips Smith to appreciate me (and show the appreciation), and He equips me to appreciate and respect Smith.  In other words, I think the heart behind the actions (in this case, God’s will/intent and enabling us to love each other well) is the important part, not the actions themselves.   I will also say that prior to a few years ago, I never saw a marriage that I would consider good or something that I would want to commit to for the rest of my life.  But among those with a strong relationship with God, there seems to be an abundance of loving, deep, intimate marriages, even after 20, 40, 60 years.

What makes a great relationship to you, and how do you or your partner feel appreciated?

Quarters

Yesterday I tried something I have never done before. Hanging out with Smith, I have gotten to learn about and try a lot of new things.

We went to a park yesterday that is located near some train tracks. We were having a pleasant afternoon together lying on the grass swatting bugs, plugging the sprayers in the fountain with our thumbs and causing water to spray all over the place, sliding down the slide in the kids’ playground, and sitting on a picnic table gazing into each others’ eyes. Suddenly, we heard the train whistle blow.

Smith had previously convinced me that if you put a quarter on the train tracks, you can derail a train. He had been fascinated by this concept for some time, and he had mentioned it on numerous occasions when we heard the train pass by my house. Smith had grabbed some quarters out of his car as we arrived at the park, but I thought surely he wouldn’t jump in front of the train and attempt to cause destruction and chaos.

Apparently, I was wrong. The moment we heard the train coming, Smith leapt off the picnic table and became a blur in the distance. I fervently prayed that God would not take him from me just yet.

Minutes later, Smith came limping back, quarters still intact in his hands. He had a little spill on his run towards the train and did not make it to the tracks in time. It was our lucky day, however, because shortly after, another train whistle sounded. Again, Smith dashed towards the tracks. I tagged along behind and caught up with him in time to watch the train roll past us. He had placed his quarters on the rail just in time.

It became evident to me that Smith was not serious about the potential for derailing the train, but once the train had passed, he found his quarters on the ground, which had been melted by the wheels of the train into smooth, flat discs.

Smith had risked life and limb and had nearly broken his ribs (well, not really, but he did bang himself pretty good in his tumble towards the train) to turn his dollar into four worthless pieces of metal. But they looked so cool.

What did he do with his new and improved quarters? He gave three of them to me.

To me, this gesture symbolizes Smith’s love for me. He is so generous and kind, selfless and thoughtful. He demonstrates a love for me that I have never felt before. He honors me and cares for me so deeply. What probably seemed like a small gesture to him was very significant to me. He gave me three of his four quarters. Even though he had gone through an ordeal to put them on the tracks, he wanted me to have them.  He selflessly gave me more than he kept for himself. Smith loves me in so many little ways like this, as well as in big ways. I did nothing to deserve a blessing like him in my life, and I am so thankful for him.

That’s Not Cool


As I was flipping through radio stations this morning on my way to work, I stopped on a station where the deejays were discussing women who continuously go back to their “anti-Christ” (presumably emotionally abusive, narcissistic) boyfriends.

The male deejay on the show proclaimed, “The best boyfriend is the one that is always trying to get you back.”

One of the female deejays said wryly, “Yeah, because he’s on his good behavior.”

I know exactly what they mean. A woman’s heart’s desire is to be pursued by a man. There is something deceptively alluring about a man who is constantly working to win a woman’s heart, telling her that he knows they are meant to be together, he loves her, he needs her. Even when his actions towards her are not loving or cause her to second-guess herself, a woman is drawn in by a man’s pursuit and words. When a man’s words and actions are incongruous, it is very difficult for a woman to be discerning, particularly if she sees him or talks to him every day, because she is constantly hearing him say those magical and persuasive words. It is very difficult for many women to break away from these types of men, especially because they will continue to pursue.

A few days ago, I saw a commercial that impacted me more strongly than most. In the commercial, shown below, a boy is harassing a girl via text message (“textual harassment”), constantly asking what she is doing (“have you told your family about us?”, “are you with your friends?”, “what did you dream about? me.”) and subtly manipulating her emotions, trying to get her to respond or react.

The commercial ends when the narrator says, “When does caring become controlling?” and directs the viewer to the website, http://www.thatsnotcool.com/.

This commercial affected me because I can identify with the young woman who is portrayed. I dated someone who constantly called and texted me to let me know how much he “cared” about me, but he was really trying to control me. Because of emotional vulnerabilities I had at that time in my life, it was very appealing to me to be pursued so relentlessly. I always knew where I stood with him, and I always knew he would be there for me (or so he convinced me to believe).

Never mind that he was a pathological liar, he pretended to get counseling to help our relationship and used things that the counselor supposedly said to manipulate my emotions, he was jealous and possessive, he faked medical issues to arouse my sympathies, he used spiritual language and shame to manipulate me, he needed to know where I was at all times, he had people check up on me and report back to him regarding my whereabouts, he played mind games, his stories were never consistent, he threatened to go back to using drugs and possibly kill himself if I broke up with him, he constantly stirred up conflict, he used silence to block communication, and he destroyed items I gave him.

Despite all of that emotional abuse, he was able to get me to believe that he really loved me, and he pursued me so heavily. He would not let me leave him. Until finally I did.

This issue concerns me for young women who may have less awareness about abuse, a smaller support network, and fewer resources for getting help. I am thankful for the Family Violence Prevention Fund and other organizations who have sponsored the “That’s Not Cool” commercial, website, and awareness of issues like controlling behavior and constant texting.

Other People’s Opinions

Are you affected or influenced by people’s opinions?

As an INTJ, I am self-confident and independent, and I am not easily swayed by authority figures, sales pitches, and emotional pleas. I do not care much for convention or sentimentality. I make choices and develop my own internal standards based on my relationship with God and a lot of self-analysis.

I often say that I do not care about other people’s opinions. And in a lot of ways, I do not. However, at times, I do tend to internalize the opinions of others, especially in situations where I do not feel as competent and in situations where I respect and admire the opiner.

Smith* and I got engaged a couple of weeks ago. We have been dating for three months. I feel very strongly that it is God’s will that Smith is the man He wants me to marry, and I feel like it is God’s will that we got engaged when we did. I cannot really explain this, as I am not the type of person to rush into things, nor would I necessarily recommend it to someone else unless the person was spiritually mature, a little older, and felt a strong sense of God’s leading.

While I do feel some stress over the details of planning for the future, I feel very much at peace with being engaged to Smith. He is a wonderful man, and I feel so blessed to have him in my life. Above all else, he is such a great friend to me. Additionally, my relationship with God is better than it has ever been. God working through Smith and through our relationship has enabled me to feel a level of closeness with God that I have never before experienced.

That being said, I cannot expect that others will be as assured of God’s plan for me as I am, as they do not know my heart and mind. And thus as a result of the length of time we have been dating, others have expressed some concern about my engagement.

Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ’s Achilles heel. While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations.  – from typelogic

I think that because romantic relationships seem to be my Achilles heel, I feel less competent and thus more vulnerable to the opinions of others. Furthermore, I am affected more by the influence of particular people. I am blessed to work in a large church with staff members who care about me as a person, not just the tasks I perform. Many of my colleagues are well-educated and spiritually mature, they invest in me and care for me, and I respect them. Their opinions hold more weight with me than, say, a casual non-Christian acquaintance. I appreciate the spiritual and emotional nurturing I receive, yet at times, I feel a lot of pressure to live up to a certain standard.

Overall, I have been very pleased with people’s positive responses and excitement.  Thank you for being happy for me.