Everywhere I turn these days, I’m hearing about some married couple I know who is going through a divorce, and it doesn’t seem to matter how long they’ve been together, how “happy” or “perfect” they appeared to be, how many children they have, whether they go to church or not, or anything really. The story always seems to be the same.
“It’s not been good for years.”
“We haven’t gotten along in forever.”
“We got married too young.”
“She only cares about the kids.”
“He only cares about his work.”
“We stopped loving each other a long time ago.”
“I still love her; I’m just not in love with her.”
“I’m in love with someone else.”
“I never really got to be single.”
“I just want to be free.”
“He did this to me.”
“She thinks she wants this, so I’m gonna give her what she thinks she wants.”
And on, and on, and on, and on…it’s always the same.
I sat in a local establishment yesterday working on my computer, and as I sat typing away, I heard the sound of crying. I lifted my head and looked to my left, and there was a man and a woman sitting at an adjacent booth. The woman’s face was beet red, tears were streaming down her face to the point of her not being able to control them. The man sat there calmly, often fumbling through his blackberry, most of the time just listening to the rant that was occurring right in front of him.
I didn’t listen intently, but this is the basic message of what I heard.
“You did this. You never did this. You don’t care. She got straight A’s because of me. Just me. You didn’t do that. I was always the one who did this.” This went on and on and on, and the man just sat there and took it. I’m guessing he learned a long time ago to just sit and listen to the accusations, the attacks, the degradations, etc.
He finally did speak, and this is what he said…”You’re wrong about everything, and you always have been.”
That’s it. That’s all he said.
The woman quickly retorted, “Ah, I can’t take this anymore.” She collected her belongings and left. No goodbye, nothing. One minute she was throwing out accusations like they were Christmas gifts, tears streaming down her cheeks, and the next, she was gone.
And, here is what I realized…
We’re all selfish. Every last one of us.
The truth of the matter is…we want what we want, when we want it, and how we want it, and when we don’t get it, it’s everybody else’s fault. And, over time, our resentment grows and grows and grows until one day, we wake up and think we don’t even like the person sleeping next to us. But, the truth is, we’ve simply been so selfish for so many years that we really don’t like ourselves.
My friends, I’m a selfish person, I’m a big, old screw-up, and the sad reality is that I will continue to be a selfish screw-up for the rest of my life. I’ve come to realize that the only way I can keep things together is to let God do it for me and to let go of myself and all my selfish wants and needs.
When I want what I want, I’m gonna get mad at my wife if she doesn’t give it to me, whatever it is, unless I look to God for the TRUTH, unless I look to Him for the strength to care more about what she wants than what I want.
Scripture tells us a few things that might help us be a little less selfish and a little more sacrificial. Meditate on these, and ask God to reveal to you the states of your hearts as they pertain to selflessness and sacrifice, because ultimately, that’s how marriages stay together…
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
“(Love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)
And how do we do this? John tells us…
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Friends, remain in Him.