Edited to add: Sorry that this post came out later than usual. As mentioned on twitter I made a rookie WordPress error: I wrote the entry and set the date and time it was supposed to be posted (Friday, 6:30am EST) and then forgot to hit “publish” to actually schedule it!
Are you good at praying that you and your future husband or wife get to meet each other (soon)? I’m not. Or do you routinely seek divine guidance while you’re in a relationship? That’s another area I’m working on. When I look back on things, I’d have to say that I tried, but I did not put God first in my relationship overall. I think many people struggle with this and I hope those of you who have this Love and Learn lesson locked down can help those of us still struggling.
Why put God first
Christians are commanded to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul and to seek His kingdom first and all those things that we might worry about will be taken care of. So that’s why I should put God first: it’s my duty. I have no problem giving thanks to God when something good happens in my life because I truly feel blessed and know that none of the blessings are due to anything that I’ve done: there are far worthier people who are not so blessed. I don’t think of thanking God for the lesson he’s trying to teach me when things are going wrong though! I don’t put prayer or meditation ahead of family, friends, my career, or my severe internet addiction, or sleep (sometimes)…but I’m working on it.
Another thing: if you and your partner truly put God first, many of those ugly things that can threaten your relationship will be less likely to destroy your relationship. God will give you the grace to deal with bad things (like infidelity, all types of abuse, jealousy, and selfishness) if they show up, and you will be able to deal with them in a very different way than you would have if you weren’t focused on emulating God. Mind you: I don’t believe that believing in God automatically makes you a kinder, more loving person than a non-believer, and I’m not saying that non-believers are mean people or are incapable of being kind to their spouse. Christians are works in progress too and if being a Christian meant you had to be perfect I’d never have been able to call myself a child of God!
When you don’t put God first
I will never know exactly why things didn’t work out, but I do know that by not putting God first in the relationship, I spent more time than I should have agonizing over things that weren’t as important as I made them. For example, physical appearance is a factor for most, but if it’s your main criteria for picking a husband or wife, you may find yourself looking for a new partner some years down the road because your partner no longer looks exactly as they did when you met (think hair loss and gravity having its inevitable effect rather than someone completely letting himself or herself go). A person’s physical appearance isn’t that important to me, but I spent too much time (it sickens me to think about it!) agonizing over whether he would find me and my extra pounds attractive.
When you put God first, you get to develop your inner beauty, that part that should get more attractive with time (assuming you continue to deepen your relationship with God). When you focus on your insides, everything changes: things that seemed so important before may seem superficial. You’ll probably pick your battles more and focus on what’s important rather than be driven by a desire to “win” fights. You’ll learn to be content, to give your worries to God instead of trying to fix everything on your own. You’ll get closer to loving the way God loves you–unconditionally, not expecting anything in return. You’ll learn to be generous. I believe that focusing on emulating God will make you a better person and spouse (note that this is about being better than what you were, not being better than another person).
If I had focused on being more Christ-like, some of the issues that came up may have had a different outcome (though I don’t think this necessarily means we would still be together!). I can look back on how things went from good to “over”, and although we both played a role in the success and eventual failure of the relationship, I can see how I could have been a better mirror of the grace that I’ve been shown in my life by God. I’m not saying that I was a terrible girlfriend and things ended because I was impossible (because I really was lovely (heehee) and close friends told me along the way that they were surprised by how patient, loving, and supportive I was through our challenges. This is not to toot my own horn but to tell you that those closest to me saw uncharacteristic (in a good way) behaviour on my part throughout the relationship). That being said, I can see how my actions could have been refined and improved.
To tie in with last week’s Love and Learn, when you love someone and you’re in physical proximity to them, it’s kind of lovely that the ability to engage in logical thought sometimes escapes you (ahem). However, if you’ve both made a commitment to put God first, it will be easier to take a step back and find that logical part of your brain that tells you that maybe what you were about to do is not the right thing (at that moment), that there are more important things to define and be clear about before complicating things (and I’m not only talking about sex).
How to put God first
We all know the easiest thing to do (theoretically) is to read the bible daily. Some have no trouble committing to this but I’m working up to it: I’m reading books like The Purpose Driven Life, which gives me some scripture with explanations of the subject matter of the book. I recommend you tune in to a Christian radio station, so you can hear songs with (usually) God-centric lyrics and mini-sermons too–I find these motivating. You can watch or listen to sermons by people like TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, or Joyce Meyer online or on tv. You can attend church and absorb as much of the sermon as possible or get more involved in church programs.
Growing up watching romantic movies and reading romantic novels meant my greatest desire was for a guy to adore me above all others. I love the way some of my friends’ husbands look at them, as if no other woman exists. I love seeing the saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder come to life when they compliment their wives. Of course my dream guy also had to believe in God but that was always secondary to how he felt about me. Until now. Now I know that what I really want is a man who lives a life that demonstrates that he puts God first. I want a guy who will call me out if I’m not living up to the standards that God has set for His children. And I know that if he and I seek God first, all those other things that are important to us and to a successful relationship will fall into place (though not necessarily with ease).
Do you put God first in your relationship? Did you notice a change in your relationship when you put God first?
- Love and Learn – Introduction
- Love and Learn – God-given roles in the relationship
- Love and Learn – Don’t ignore signs in a relationship
- Love and Learn – Don’t compromise on how you want to be treated
- Love and Learn – Define the relationship! (Part 1)
- Love and Learn – Define the relationship! (Part 2)
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