Under Construction....

Please excuse my interweb-dust! Changes are underway- thanks for your patience!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Budding Fruit and Doing Some Narrowing Down

Engagements can be such a time of growth for a couple. You’re in love, you’ve made an enormous commitment- now it’s just the waiting time. The planning time.

I know many couples who had short engagements- anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of days. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve known a couple who were engaged for five years. Zeke and I fell somewhere in the middle of this range, and were engaged for two years. Our engagement was a transforming time for our relationship. 

Of course, all relationship transformation starts with transforming yourself.

Which isn’t necessarily what I wanted to do. I started my engagement by buying three bridal magazines that promised to help me Plan the Perfect Wedding and make my Arms Look Great in That Strapless Dress. Which both sounded like fun and also like the things on which I needed to spend all the time!  

After the initial wave of overwhelming excitement, I realized that maybe I should focus on making my relationship stronger, since I had two entire years to do triceps dips and think about cake flavors. So of course, I read articles about the 100 Ways to Have a Great Engagement… realized that many of these so-called Ways included intimacies that went against my beliefs, or were really just more information about narrowing down guest lists.

I never really had the thought that the way I should start to prepare for my marriage was by figuring out what needed to be narrowed down in me.

Of course, God’s pretty good at humbling the prideful, and soon I started looking into the qualities that are visible for those living in the Holy Spirit- especially the ones in which I’m sorely lacking.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.- Galatians 5:22-23

Marriage isn’t about butterflies and constant joy. It’s going to be hard sometimes, and you’ll need the grace of God to heal broken places, to show you how to forgive, to help you keep your hope and joy in the hard times. If you’re going to spend your engagement creating a strong foundation for a forever marriage, you need to be living out the qualities of a Spirit-filled life.  And Scripture spells that out pretty clearly in this verse. 

Spend your engagement connecting first with God. To have a grace-filled marriage, you must first be living out a life of grace. 

Notice that this verse describes the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of Adrie … or Susan or Julie or Rachel. This verse isn’t about what we can create in ourselves. If I’m living in the Spirit as a believer of Christ, I have all those things already- the patience and love and gentleness and self-control- those are the evidence of the Spirit at work within me, and within you. The good news is that we’ve already got these qualities!

Does that mean that I’m always gentle? Or always patient? Of course not. We’ve been made new in Christ, but we’re still human. Just because I have self-control through the Spirit doesn’t mean that it’s at all developed.

Go back and look at the Fruit again. Does one of those words stick out to you? For me, self-control is an area in which I struggle- that and patience! Which of those qualities is least developed in your own life? Be honest with yourself.

The newlywed stage of marriage can be challenging and humbling. I know that I became ever so conscious of flaws that went unnoticed- things I could ignore or push down deep into the Someday I’ll Deal with It bin- before joining myself to someone else for better or worse. Getting married brings all those flaws to the surface, trust me.

 If you take the time to start working on those issues, on fostering positive qualities now rather than realizing you’ve got so many weaknesses later, you definitely won’t regret it. 

Now of course, finding the flaws in ourselves and taking those to task is hard work. It’s much easier to look at that handsome future husband of ours and find the fruit of the spirit where he should spend his time.  

So I’ll suggest something to keep you on track. 

I tend to be pretty forgetful. (Thank goodness memory isn’t a fruit of the spirit… that would be another to add to the list of fruits that are still in the budding stage in my life.) I have to write things down. Journaling has been a long-standing habit for me. 

I would suggest that you find a little time in each day to reflect. For me, I’d write things down in a journal or notebook somewhere- but maybe that’s not for you, and that’s fine, too. The point is to think about the growing you need to do, the sins you need to root out, the habits you need to take up, and make note of progress. Give yourself an honest evaluation. 

Was your attitude about that set-back an attitude of joy? Did you handle that conflict with the necessary gentleness? Did eating all the cookies help you grow in self-control? By making a conscious effort to ask yourself these things, you’ll make a habit of keeping your mind in a perspective of holiness- of finding the Spirit in your daily routine, in living a lifestyle in light of the grace of God.

The first step toward an intentional engagement is an intentional lifestyle- the change starts with you.

I would also like to recommend this book to you- The Bride's Handbook: A Spiritual & Practical Guide for Planning Your Wedding. I found it in the church library during a particularly stressful bout of wedding planning, and it's wonderful. Truly. Not only does it have lovely tips for wedding planning, but the devotional aspect is great. The writing is so peaceful... it got me through some stressful times, and began the change in my attitude toward my own engagement.

"Like" A Little Wife's Happy Life on Facebook to catch more Intentional Engagement posts!

Other Posts in the Intentional Engagement Series:
Smooth as a River Rock: Having an Intentional Engagement

No comments:

Post a Comment

nRelate Posts Only