Tag Archives: relationships

Marriage is Like Gardening

Trade Your Saw for a Spade

When you build something out of wood, you measure, cut, sand, nail, and – viola!- results. You have visible signs of progress and defined outcomes. Best of all, you have much of the control. Relationships, on the other hand, are not easy to measure, and they are certainly not easy to control.

gardening

Both gardening and carpentry are creative ventures, but they are very different in their approaches and processes. Of the two activities, gardening seems a better metaphor for dealing with relationships.

For starters, gardening puts you on your knees. Although gardeners have a lot to do, they understand that much of the critical activity will be unseen. Gardeners do the hard work of planting, but they must rely on God to activate the seed and to grow the fruit.

gardening

Growing things requires great patience. Good gardening, like good relationships, involves both the work of effort and the work of waiting. You work to create healthy conditions, but then you wait to let good things grow. As a carpenter, you can use your hammer to control the nail. But as a gardener, you cannot pound out an apple. Instead, your job is to nurture. The gardener must tend. Tend and trust.

gardening

Like carpenters, we would sometimes like to cut our relationships to proper size and shape, sand off our spouses’ imperfections, nail some strength into someone, paint things the way we like, and then position everything right into place—viola! But people are not carpentry projects, and marriage doesn’t work that way. Our spouses belong in God’s hands, not ours.

(To continue reading this article at StartMarriageRight.com, please click HERE.)

 

 

 

How Fluent are You in the Language of Apology?

You have probably heard of the five love languages, but are you familiar with the five languages of apology?[1] Here’s the basic idea: there are five components to a full apology. Many people find that one of those components is especially important to them. An apology with just that one key element is a satisfactory apology to them; but if that one key element is missing, then the apology feels incomplete to them.

Here are the five components of an apology:
1) Expressing Regret:  “I am sorry.”
2) Accepting Responsibility:  “I was wrong.”
3) Making Restitution: “How can I make this up to you?”
4) Genuinely Repenting: “I will try never to do that again.”
5) Requesting Forgiveness: “Will you please forgive me?”

Once you have determined your spouse’s language of apology, you will be able to apologize in ways that are meaningful to him or her.  If you fail to include that one key element, however, your apology will seem insincere or weak to your spouse.

Understanding that we have different languages of apology allows us to receive more graciously the apologies of others because we recognize that others may be sincere even when their style is different from our own.

“You cannot repent too soon, because you do not know how soon it may be too late.”  Thomas Fuller

“An apology is the super glue of life. It can repair just about anything.” Lynn Johnston

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”  Corrie ten Boom

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Jesus, Matthew 5:7, NIV



[1] See The Five Languages of Apology by Jennifer Thomas and Gary Chapman.

1 Corinthians 13: The Marriage Version (with my apologies to King James)

Though I speak to my spouse using diplomatic “I feel” messages and skillful conflict-resolution strategies, but do not love, I am become as sounding brass or as a car alarm that won’t shut off. And though I have an advanced degree in marriage counseling and understand the mysteries of why people do what they do and have all knowledge of psychology; and though I read a mountain of books on relationships, but do not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my good efforts to fulfill my duties, and though I burn up every drop of energy in being a great spouse, but do not love, it profiteth me nothing.

Love is patient even when a spouse does not change; love is kind even when a spouse is thoughtless; love does not envy another marriage; love is not impressed with its own marriage skills.

Franciscan Fine ChinaLove does not save its “fine china” manners for company; love is courteous and polite. Love looks out of a spouse’s eyes to see from another’s perspective. Love is not easily provoked and thinketh no evil; instead, love assumes a spouse’s best intentions. Love does not delight in any threat to the relationship, but rejoices in healing and in strengthening. Love always protects the marriage, always believes that a spouse is priceless and made in the image of God, always trusts the promises of God, and is always confident that God’s grace is deeper than any need. Love never shuts its heart, never forsakes its covenant commitment, and never rejects a spouse.

Child rolled tongueLove never faileth: but whether there be prophecies that “you should move on with your life,” they shall fail; whether there be tongues that say that “your spouse is a jerk,” they shall cease; whether there be knowledge that “you deserve better than this,” it shall vanish away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became married, it was time to put away childish things, such as self-centeredness and quitting and valuing what feels easy.

For now we see through a glass, darkly, and there is much that we do not understand about our spouses, about ourselves, or about God’s ways; but then, face to face with God, we shall know fully what glorious things He has been doing through our marriages, just as He knows fully now how to love us well.

And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Responses to Nakedness (part 3 of 4)

Do you think of one more person in the Scriptures who lay naked and vulnerable before others? Jesus told the story of a man who was brutally attacked by robbers on the road leading from Jerusalem to Jericho. In this parable, we again see contrasting responses to nakedness:

1. Both the priest and the Levite saw the wounded man, but they “passed by on the other side.” (Luke 10:31, NIV). This represents a common response to the exposed vulnerabilities of others: we turn away. Whether we walk away because of fear, indifference, or some other motivation, our turning away functions as rejection to the wounded person.

2. The Samaritan, however, did not turn away. When he saw the wounded man, “he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.” (verses 33-34, italics mine). From his own resources, the Samaritan provided the care that he could, and he enlisted others in appropriate ways to provide additional care.

The Samaritan models for us another godly “response to nakedness,” a response that is critical in our marriages and sometimes in other situations, too. When neediness is revealed to us, we may be tempted to turn away. We may be fearful or limited in ability and resources. However, we can respond with courage and with compassion, resolving to move toward the other person; we can pour out from our own lives to bring healing and to restore honor.

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