Chris and I have been arguing a lot and I am so thankful.
I have claimed to love Jesus most of my married life and I’ve prayed continuously to be a kinder, gentler and more joy-filled wife. I have prayed to be a wife who responds without sarcasm and who uses a tone that sounds less like I’m Chris’ kindergarten teacher and more like a woman who loves and respects her man. I’ve prayed all this and meant it.
The problem is when I can look more like Jesus to Chris, I don’t. Although I want to be a nicer wife, I also subconsciously think/hope that because I prayed about it, it should happen instantly, painlessly and perhaps when I’m sleeping. Opportunities for me to be the wife I long to be present themselves all the time, but I’ve realized I’m not willing to do the work of dying to myself to become who I say I want to be.
So why am I happy about our recent arguments? Because I’m realizing they’re opportunities for me, when I least feel like it, to allow God to use me to answer my prayers. What does that look like? In our recent disagreements, when I’ve stopped to pray, instead of defend myself, explain how I was right and Chris was wrong, and ensure I was thoroughly and completely heard, this question came into my little Asian head:
What is your part in this?
God has not allowed me to justify my feelings or wallow in my hurt. He has not given me permission to complain about Chris or justify why I had to use that tone or those words. God has not said, “Let’s focus on what Chris needs to do differently next time.” He has only asked me what I need to change, do differently or apologize for and although that’s about as much fun as algebra or having the stomach flu, it’s how God is transforming me slowly into the wife I’ve wanted to be for twenty-five years.
Do I think it’s fair that I must deal only with “my part” in a fight involving two imperfect people? No. But it has been in that place of injustice I have found less frustration, more joy and greater peace by focusing on the only person in this relationship that I have any control over anyway. I have found not only can I not change Chris, I have enough to work on when I look only at “my part.” I have been humbled enough to see how my self-centeredness, over-reactions and low-self-esteem spills over into our relationship and hurts the man I love so deeply.
In focusing only on Laura I’m also overwhelmed with the gift of Christ’s grace in my life. I am forgiven and a work in progress and so is Chris. When we ask God to transforms us and then look for opportunities to be transformed, we can’t help but become changed.
Gratitude has a way of doing that.