What spoon do I use? 2 Thoughts on Dealing with Marital Measurements

From the youngest of ages, I’ve enjoyed cooking. For me, it’s quite therapeutic to chop, dice, slice, filet, etc. But I confess, even though I’ve cooked hundreds of meals…

I don’t know the difference between a tablespoon and teaspoon.

Stupid huh? I literally watch Food Network on my iPad while I cook and I still have to google which one is “table” and which one is “tea” (just googled it again). When I do, I shake my head and tell myself, “I should have known that; it’s obvious.”

It may not be a huge deal to you, but measurements in cooking are meant to be accurate, especially in baking. And by using a wrong measurement, you can wind-up making something you didn’t intend on producing.  Using a “tablespoon” of one element, when it was supposed to be a “teaspoon,” can change the flavor, adjust the consistency,  or take what you’re trying to create in the wrong direction. I’ve either ruined many of recipes or didn’t get the fullness of dining experience because of inaccurate measurements.

Marriage is no different. I find that problems don’t come by a lack of measurement but the instrument for which we use to estimate and/or evaluate what we are facing. When you use inaccurate measurements, you can severely change the flavor (attitude, tone, and atmosphere) of your marriage, the consistency (integrity, connectedness, and unity) of it, and take what you are building (growing, learning, and maturing) into a wrong direction. Often I find husbands and wives fall prey to what has become the primary (and extremely inaccurate) human measurement device: comparison.

Comparison 
I’ve discovered that this internal measuring tape is used in two extremes. First, comparison takes our deficiencies and measures them against somebody’s highlight real. Perhaps you see another couple, possibly a best friend or even your parents, and used them to measure the quality and/or substance of your marriage. I’m not against having mentors. In fact, I encourage it. But there’s a difference between being looking upon to a marriage for the purpose of encouragement and challenge and looking up to a marriage to idolize someone’s life and inflicting your marriage with an ideal.

Secondly, comparison takes our perceived “strengths” and put them up against somebody else’s perceived “weaknesses” for the purpose to make ourselves feel better. This inaccurate measurement is steeped in pride. It’s meant to make you feel better in the moment but convinces you into thinking growth or change isn’t necessary because you are not “as bad as (enter someone’s name).”  

Comparison is the seduction of our enough-ness. You either lose your feeling of being enough by what you lack in correlation to another couple or will you gain a sensation of being enough by contrasting what’s “right” with you to someone else’s perceived wrongness. Regardless, no matter how you play the comparison game, you lose. When you don’t find that you (and your spouse) are enough in Christ, you will place that demand upon someone or something that was not equipped to fulfill that.

Contextualize
The remedy is in the understanding of the uniqueness of your marriage. You’re less apt to compare when you cannot find a similar example. I find it’s easy to forget that both you and your spouse are, individually, made “wonderfully complex.” So if you as individual humans are complex, then the make up of each marriage is just as complex as man and woman come together. Again, this doesn’t mean you cannot have people to as mentors. It also doesn’t mean there are not principles to guide husbands and wives. But it does make you contextualize. Simply said: Look at your marriage, the season you are in, and how you and your spouse were created and gifted. When you can truly see what you are working with, you can build on Christ-centered principles to feed your marriage. Comparison does the opposite. You look at the “context” who other people are and what they have and try to enforce that upon the “context” for which the two of you live.

The fact is this: by human measurements, we’ll never be enough. When we think we’ve measured up, somebody will have moved the bar. Then we find ourselves constantly chasing things we were never meant to find our meaning in.  Stop working for the validation that comes from an inaccurate assessment and hold onto the measurement that matters: You can have an identity found Jesus. It’s not only a place to live from but it’s an identity to work with. For if you can see how Jesus see’s you, you’ll be more apt to see your spouse how Christ sees him/her. Your life will display the image of the identity you live in.

Christ, then, becomes the place for which we can “measure” our lives. And the beauty of that challenge is not to necessarily show what we lack but to help us know what we possess AND how we can grow day by day. You’ll discover that type of “measurement” keeps you personally humble YET encourages you to pursue Jesus. I find the more I receive from Him, the more I’m able to give and serve my spouse. So in essence, my place of “measurement” is also the place of my “empowerment.”

Set down the comparison that has robbed you of joy. Trust that Jesus is enough. And when you find that “enough-ness” in Him, let your marriage draw from and grow into that.

Love you all. Praying for husbands and wives today as you two pursue Jesus and each other.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.

 

Shed the Shame: 4 Ways Shame Adds A Burden to Our Marriage

There’s a gentleman in our church community who’s introduced me and my son to backpacking. Ethan and I have fallen in love with it. We talk about it frequently as, every time we go, we enjoy it immensely and learn something new to apply to our next experience.  That, by itself, would make a good marriage blog.

Find something (potentially new) to with your spouse.
Learn something new about each other.

Now back to my original thought…

One thing we’ve learned about improving our backpacking experience and thus, improving our enjoyment, is to do whatever it takes to shed unnecessary weight in what we carry. I’m not just talking about watching the pounds of equipment but identifying every ounce we put in our packs. Why? Anything we allow, ultimately, somebody has to shoulder it. So Ethan and I spend a good week laying out and identifying everything we intend to take on our journey.

It’s such a simple metaphor and yet, completely profound. If you don’t stop to identify what you’re taking in to your marriage, you may not notice the full weight of the burden in the first part of your marriage journey. But over time, you’ll experience the relational gravity of it and assume the marriage (or your spouse) caused it instead of recognizing that you may have potentially carried it in. Remember: Whatever you allow into the journey of your marriage, somebody has to shoulder it.

This past Sunday, we dealt with the issue of shame at KfirstAnd when I thought about how shame applies to marriage, this backpacking metaphor kicked in. Far too many couples are having their passion, hope, and peace crushed under the weight of shame. What is shame? I describe it this way: guilt is the regret I feel; shame is the guilt I wear. We begin to bear shame when we take our perception of what we don’t have, what we’ve done, or what’s been said and apply it to our identity.  Never forget, “the two become one.” So what you carry, dramatically affects your spouse. 

What causes shame? 

Difference in Upbringing
Good and bad, your history has developed your expectations, built filters for listening, and formed your responses. And at times, if your spouse had a different background, you can see, and even impose, shame upon them as if their upbringing was completely wrong. Just remember: “different” isn’t necessarily “wrong.”

Personal History
The both of you carry into the marriage a bit of baggage (personal history). You carry the experiences of success and failures; victories and devastation. Shame-based thinking take the past and inflicts the future with it. I’m always amazed at the little things in life (tones, scents, scenarios) that trigger something from my past that can cause guilt to resurface and shame to be worn.

Lack of forgiveness
From refusing to forgive your spouse, other people, to even forgiving yourself, unforgiveness doesn’t have to do have anything to do with your marriage to impact your marriage. Inflicting unforgiveness is a violent action against your heart (not to mention the shame you bring upon others). And the more you hold against others, you carry into your marriage. Why? What affects you will infect your marriage.

Comparison
It’s astounding how much we underestimate the issue of comparison. We spend more time comparing and identifying what we lack instead of appreciating and investing into what we do have. Shame is the offspring of comparison; we either force shame upon ourselves for what we don’t have or see others in shame for how much better we have it.

In the words of one of my favorite preachers, Christine Caine, “The human creation was not made to feel the burden of shame.” That not only applies to individuals, it applies to your marriage. 

My challenge to you today is this: Like my son’s and my preparation for backpacking, take a block of time to really review if your “packing” unneeded shame-weight. Have a talk with your spouse and set up a time (say in a week) to talk about any shame-based thinking or actions that are happening in your marriage. Imagine how much lighter your marital load will feel when you eliminate the unnecessary shame from your marriage. It won’t stop you from working on your journey, but it’ll make the burden that much lighter.

Love you all. Praying for you.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.

 

Sucking The Joy From Your Life! 10 things I want you to know about comparison.

Anne and I have different running styles.  The fact is this: We love to run, but there really is nothing similar about the WAY we run.

Anne runs much greater distances but at a slower pace.  I run at a much faster pace but at shorter distances.  When we run together, the distance she wants to run makes me groan.  The pace that I’m used to running frustrates her.  When we approach hills, I want to power up them.  She likes to walk up them.  She can run in the silence of nature and pray and/or reflect upon the day.  I love to pray on a run, but I must have something playing in my ears. 

running-wallpaper-13-1080p-hd

Simply said, we approach running quite differently.  And neither one is the perfect way to run.  We have learned to enjoy our past-time without ruining it with comparing our styles to the other.  We’ve even ceased comparing our running to other people.  Anne and I will try to learn more about running, but we’ve resolved that “comparison” just sucks the joy out of our experience.

Know this: comparison can be a very good thing.  From comparing Qdoba to Moe’s all the way to comparing running shoes to get the best purchase that gives the best performance.  Comparison is a great power that needs to be handled with great responsibility.  But unfortunately, it has become a tool for the enemy to use to reduce our joy to dust.  I think there might be no other issue that Anne and I counsel more with people than with the issues of comparison.  It comes up constantly with us because, as just stated, we hear about it from others and we, Anne and I, can tend to suffer from it.  It’s brutal and violent. Comparison wants to shred your joy apart to be the shattered remains of what it should be.  

As I said last Sunday at Kfirst

Happiness is a byproduct of circumstantial vision; Joy is a byproduct of Godly perspective.

What element would love to keep you focused on your circumstances? Comparison.  Like so many things, comparison has been so misused and mishandled that it can be such a detriment to your life.  Here are 10 things I want you to beware of when it comes to an unhealthy use of comparison: 

  1. Comparison is selfish in nature.  “Why don’t I get as much as someone else?”
  2. Comparison is a thief. It robs the enjoyment from you and others that God designed you to have.
  3. Comparison is used to elevate ourselves instead of God.  “We can do it in order to look better than others.”
  4. Comparison can be a cop-out.  We’ll find someone who we think is “far worse off”, compare ourselves, and give ourselves permission to not change because, “hey, at least I’m not the other person!”
  5. Comparison can be laced with fear.  You match yourself against an ideal and think “I’ll never be able to do/accomplish what he/she has done.  So why try?”
  6. Comparison is manipulating. We’ll try to use in on our spouse, children, friends, etc.  “If I can compare them to who I want, I can steer them in the direction I want them to go.”
  7. Comparison is stifling. We use it to dampen the joy of the people in our life who are celebrating something we can’t celebrate with them.   
  8. Comparison will make you spiritually impotent.  When you have a reputation of using comparison to stifle joy and manipulate, it can keep you from imparting the love of Christ into others. 
  9. Comparison blinds. It leaves a fog around your life that keeps you unable to see His truth in your life.
  10. Comparison can be judgement.  We can develop an “ideal” and think everyone has to live up to that. People won’t know what they want to tell you because they won’t know what you’re comparing them to.

Be cautious with your living.  Watch your life and prevent comparison from sucking the joy out of your walk with Christ. If you’re really itching to compare something, then reflect on Psalm 86:8-10 (MSG),

There’s no one quite like you among the gods, O Lord, and nothing to compare with your works. All the nations you made are on their way, ready to give honor to you, O Lord, Ready to put your beauty on display, parading your greatness, And the great things you do— God, you’re the one, there’s no one but you!

Thanks for letting me ramble…