We have all heard this saying in some way, shape or form. “Do everything unto the Lord”. But what does that really mean? As wives and mothers how do we commit to loving our spouses and children unto the Lord, in a world that is so busy and demanding?
There was a point in time, just as I was beginning my spiritual journey (consciously beginning that is) when I decided to be LESS selfish.
I decided to do things for more people, particularly my husband. So embarking upon this new goal, I decided to do most of the things my husband had been begging me to do.
I started to sit down with him and watch sports. I don’t like sports, but he does and I wanted to be with him and give my time to him unselfishly. I signed up to play co-ed flag football with him. He plays flag football all the time, so I decided to play along with him. Again football is not my thing.
I told myself that I was doing these things that “weren’t my thing” because I love my husband and I wanted to express my love to him in the way that he liked to be loved.
A couple years of this “selfless behavior” passed and I started to feel…..empty.
Actually a more accurate description is resentment. But why would I feel so resentful for giving to my loved one selflessly?
To answer this question let me step back just a few paces. Back to the moment BEFORE I decided to be selfless.
The reason why I decided that I needed to act more selflessly was because my marriage wasn’t going very well. We were angry all the time with one another. We had two kids at the time that were small but could still see that mom and dad were angry. We never “fought” but the anger and resentment was so thick that even our two year old could feel it.
So it was at that time that I knew something had to change.
After doing some reading and lots of praying I figured “hey, I can’t change him, so why don’t I just do the changing”. So I prayed to God to change me.
I started to read books about how to have a loving and emotionally intimate marriage. I got a better understanding of what the typical man wants and I started to cater to those wants for my husband.
I thought I had finally cracked the code on a happy and healthy marriage. And for a while things where steadily getting better.
That is, until they weren’t.
So what happened?
This is where the story goes back to why I was feeling resentful years later.
In all my “selfless” acts of love, what I really wanted was for my husband to reciprocate.
As I was “selflessly” loving on him, I wanted him to also selflessly love on me. I resented that I was doing all the reading and trying and changing. All the while he was reading ESPN the magazine and reminding me on a regular basis that he might not be “romantic” but he was consistent.
This resentment all sounds understandable. Of course it does. I and my girlfriends understood where I was coming from perfectly.
But as it turns out, I was doing the exact opposite of what I set out to do.
I went into this adventure of loving my husband more perfectly as a selfless act of love. Meanwhile it turned out to be yet another lesson on just how selfish I was.
I had been tricked and needed to get over my ego.
Okay so you may be thinking at this point: “I don’t get it. What’s so selfish about wanting your husband to love you and put in the same kind of effort that you are?”
Nothing is innately wrong with this. Of course I want my husband to love me and show me that love.
But first let us examine what selflessness really is.
To love selflessly we engage in acts of love, like going to football games that you don’t really like, and smooching up to your husband after the kids are in the bed even when you’re tired, JUST BECAUSE.
That’s right. Just because. Not because you want him to show his care for you at some later date. In other words you do these acts of love UNTO THE LORD.
Somehow I had missed this part. I understood that this was what I wanted to do in an intellectual way. And I honestly thought that I wanted nothing in return for my actions.
But my strong emotion of resentment showed me otherwise. And I’m glad it did.
If I am to do everything unto the Lord, then I have to get over my ego.
My ego tells me that I have to get “mine” in return for giving. My ego tells me that one good turn deserves another. My ego tells me that if I’m going to give 100% in my marriage then my spouse should also give 100%.
And this notion resonates with most of us because we live in an ego driven world.
But the truth is in order to live a life where everything we do is unto the Lord, we have to first have FAITH that God really is going to meet our needs.
Yes I said it. And it has been said before by many a pastor and happily marriage woman of all the ages.
God is to meet our needs. We are not to rely on our husbands to.
I know….but what if our husband doesn’t meet our needs?
But he will.
So let me tell you how the story ends here.
I came to this realization that I was so resentful because I was having a severe ego problem and loving my husband selfishly instead of unto the Lord, when I was driving myself and the kids home from vacation.
While I was on vacation those few days, I prayed to God to help me see my part in all of this negativity and just surrendered to the idea that I was being called to love more fully.
I hadn’t talked to my husband in a couple of days because I was out of town and I was angry with him.
When I got home from my long drive, my husband greeted me with the deepest most passionate kiss that he had given me in years.
Later on that night, after the kids were in bed, he told me that he talked to his brother (still a bachelor) about the tension in our marriage and the resentment I had been feeling.
My dear brother-in-law sided with ME.
Now I wasn’t happy that he took my side necessarily, but whatever he said to my husband created a shift in his attitude that “made” him want to show his love to me with the same commitment and passion that I was showing my love to him.
I didn’t have to sit down with my husband and whine and complain. I didn’t have to do anything, but decide to change my mind.
All I did was accept the fact that I had been selfish in my ways and commit to God to love my husband unto the Lord.
God, through my brother-in-law, did the rest.