A couple of weekends ago I was able to go to the Women of Faith conference here in Kansas City. It was wonderful! My husband was gracious enough to take the day off of work on Friday, so that I could go to the pre-conference session called W.I.L.D. (Women In Leadership Development) During the lunch I was able to sit with several wonderful women. We got to talking and I found out that they had been married 37+ years. I took this opportunity to ask them what one piece of advice they would give someone who is younger.
One of the ladies pondered my question and then spoke her answer in two words. “Be willing.” As I sat there, it made me think. Those were not the two words that I would have come up. She went on to explain…Be willing to change. Be willing to accept life circumstances. Be willing to see each other’s weaknesses and faults and still accept them for who they are today.
I thought this answer had so much depth to it. The other thing that struck me was how all of her statements were “me” centered. She didn’t say “Be willing to wait patiently until the other person sees it your way. Be willing to explain yourself over and over until the other person changes. She made it clear we are to accept the other person and love them even if they never change.
It got me to thinking. Life is a crazy roller coaster and it can throw you curve balls that can either derail you or make you stronger. To survive you have to be willing to accept the challenge head on. You have to be willing to work through it as a team. You have to be willing to learn from it and change how God is leading you.
There have been times in our marriage when I so badly wanted to be right and was not willing to change or even listen to what Nate was saying. There are so many times where I talk before I fully understand where Nate is coming from. I am learning that I have to remember that Nate has only good will towards me and isn’t bent on causing me pain and frustration. I have to be willing to listen and truly hear where he is coming from. Then and only then can we really come to a solution that will better our marriage and make us a stronger unit together.
Our Pastor’s sermon on Sunday went along with this thought. He challenged us to ask the question, “What are you bringing to the relationship?” He went on to say that marriage can go awry when we have a hardness of heart; when we are unwilling to pray for them, love them or accept them. What am I bringing to our relationship? I pray it is love, respect, cooperation, admiration and servanthood. But I know at times it is frustration, anger, confrontation, discontentment and selfishness. It was a good reminder to evaluate my part of the equation. I need to be willing to approach my marriage with love and respect regardless of how Nate treats me or what I feel I deserve.
Am I willing to pause and think before we act? Am I willing to let God show me the errors in my “air tight” argument? God is willing and able to turn any situation into good and guide our every step. Are we willing to stop and listen to His guidance? He can get things fixed a lot faster if we are willing to let Him. Am I willing to focus on what I need to do in our relationship, instead of focusing on the long list of things I can recommend that Nate works on?
Ever since she gave me her two words of advice, I have been asking myself: Am I willing?
So, I ask you: Are you willing? What are you bringing to the relationship? Does that need to change? What things hinder us from accepting the other person? Spend time with God this week asking Him to show you areas in your life that you are not willing to change. Then ask Him to give you the strength and faith to take the steps necessary to change.