Marriage Blog: How to Say “No” by Saying “Yes”

My family has been spending a ton of much-needed time with my parents the past few days. It’s a very nostalgic and humbling experience. It’s “nostalgic” because of the holiday mixed with the sharing of memories and stories. Humbling, because the more time I spend with my father, the more I have to face the fact that I’m more like him than I realize.

There are things that come out of my mouth that are very much him. Of all of the things I say, the answer that I hated, I now give to my kids:

“Perhaps.”

“Dad, can I go out with my friends?” “Perhaps.”
“Dad, can I use the car?” “Perhaps.”
“Dad, the youth group is going to a concert.” “Perhaps.”
“Dad, can I have a few bucks?” “Go talk to your mother.”

That word “perhaps” is so non-committal. But “perhaps” gives you options (which is probably why I say it).  It gives you room to completely back-out later or, if circumstances change, go into a different direction whilst being able to say, “I didn’t fully agree to it.” As one who now uses it (I’m trying to stop), it’s a lame answer and it frustrates the listener.

We all like options. Why? Either we don’t want to be disappointed or don’t want to disappoint others.  The idea of “options” helps lessen the blow if things don’t work out the way we anticipated and helps us to save face.

But I propose that the healthiest replies in our marriage are the simplistic replies of “yes” and “no.” Why? Because that’s how the marriage started. By saying “yes” to your spouse, you were saying “no” to everyone else. So I asked myself, what are good “yes’s” and good “no’s”?

  • Saying “yes” to commitment of marriage is saying “no” to the fear of failure.
  • Saying “yes” to forgiveness is saying “no” to bitterness creeping in to corrode your heart.
  • Saying “yes” to the unplanned coffee date is saying “no” to the mundane.
  • Saying “yes” to generosity as a couple is saying “no” to stinginess.
  • Saying “yes” to serving your spouses love language detours your spouse from saying “no” to yours (doesn’t promise they will, but gives them the opportunity to reciprocate).
  • Saying “yes” to sex is saying “no” to allowing temptation to come against my spouse.
  • Saying “yes” to stewardship is saying “no” to stupid debt.
  • Saying “yes” to consistent dates is saying “no” to the feelings of disconnection.
  • Saying “yes” to talking about the tough stuff is saying “no” to miscommunication.
  • Saying “yes” to receiving forgiveness is saying “no” to self-abuse.
  • Saying “yes” to working through frustrations is saying “no” to allowing hearts to get septic.
  • Saying “yes” to communicating and agreeing on sexual frequency is saying “no” to allowing lust and resentment to have a place.
  • Saying “yes” to praying for and with your spouse is saying “no” to dealing with things through your own power.
  • Saying “yes” together to God means we are saying “no” to other voices that shout for our attention.

As I type these out, I think of the words of the Apostle Paul who wrote the words,

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” Philippians 3:12

I wish I could say I’ve perfected all of this marriage stuff. But as long as Anne and I are alive, we’ll always battle with the “yes” and “no” replies as our human tendencies get in the way. I’m sure you struggle as well. But if we can make a simplistic goal to begin to shape our marriages one healthy “yes” at a time, we’ll see ourselves saying “no” to the things that want to destroy our marriage.

Do you have any you could add? Are there “yes” statements the Lord is laying on your heart to add to your marriage? If so, sit with your spouse and talk them through. This would make a great sit-down talk with your spouse to work through (and even repent through) some areas where you’ve given the wish-washy reply of “perhaps” and left your marriage in a bit of limbo.

Love you all. Keep encouraging your spouse’s effort. Celebrate the progress you’ve made. And don’t forget to feed hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

“You are the answer to your own prayer”: 7 prayers you may be the answer for.

“Prayer reminds us that we are human while also reminding us that God is God.” Charlie Dates

In daily prayer life, people can tend to miss a couple of things. First, we miss out on some very important aspects of prayer.  The largest portion of our prayer shouldn’t be spent on petition (presenting requests). In fact, I feel more time should be placed upon exaltation (act of elevating something or someone…namely Jesus), adoration (confession of passion), and intercession (the action of intervening on behalf of another) than upon our own petitions.  It helps us get our eyes off of ourselves and place our focus upon the Lord.  It removes selfishness within our prayer by making others a priority.

Secondly, we miss being the answer we’re praying for.  We pray in order to release something out of our hands so that it can be God’s responsibility.  It’s sounds great.  I love taking things to the Lord and praying the words of Jehoshaphat, by saying: 

“We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” 2 Chronicles 20:12

It’s within this moment that, perhaps, we don’t always catch that, what we are trying to release to God, He may not want to release us from. Perhaps, if we’re willing to listen, we’ll realize we may be the answer to the prayer we are praying.  What I mean by that is that if we are willing to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, it is through you that the Lord wants to work in and through you to provide the answer to the prayer you’ve been praying.  We’re so easy to use prayer as our way of, to use a cliché, of “letting go and letting God.”  Why don’t we see ourselves as candidates for God to work wonders through?  I love what Paul said to the Galatians

“…It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me…”

Paul recognized that in his every day life, it was the life of Christ that was working through him.  The grace of God empowered him to live his life as well as be a blessing to others to see Kingdom work accomplished. It wasn’t done to EVER exalt Paul, everything was done to exalt Jesus. Here you go, 7 prayers you may be the answer for

1. “Lord, there’s a family in need in my neighborhood.  Can you send someone to help them?” 

2. “I pray that you would help the people in my workplace/school hear/see a clear display of the Gospel.” 

3. “Please give my children an example in their life of a Godly man/woman.”

4. “I pray for that person that’s been struggling with sickness.  Can you send a pastor to visit them?”

5. “I saw some new people in church on Sunday. Would you send someone to connect with them?”

6. “Would you send someone to disciple my friend who is a new Christian?” 

7. “There’s a ministry need in our church, will you put that need in someone’s heart to step up and volunteer?”

Jesus is always the answer.  But stop eliminating yourself from being used by Him in opportunities that He is making available to you.  Perhaps the miracle people are waiting to see is not necessarily you, but Christ working through you.  Step out as a vessel of the Holy Spirit and watch God do amazing things. 

Spend some time in prayer today.  Be ready to respond in the way Eli told Samuel to respond

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.

Thanks for letting me ramble…