I have the honor and privalege to welcome Proverbs 31 ministries Author, Speaker, and Bible Study Teacher, Suzanne Eller to the blog today. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Suzanne and her writing. I have been taught many things from her through Proverbs 31 and her devotionals. Those of you who subscribe to the Encouragement for Today daily devotionals will recognize Suzy and her beautiful writing. This topic is close to my heart and I am honored to have Suzy share her spiritual insight on the topic of our outward behaviours to others to spite our own mood. My deepest heart felt thank you and appreciation to Suzy for sharing with us. Please welcome Suzanne Eller…
Am I refreshing or depressing?
I’m not an expert or counselor about the topic of marriage. I don’t believe in formulas. I believe every marriage is different, and I haven’t walked in your shoes so I don’t dare try to speak into your relationship.
Yet, after 38 years of living with a guy I really like, there have been times that I’ve knelt and asked God for help. I hope it’s OK that we talk about that together.
Me sharing my story. You sharing yours. Praying together.
The following are three things I’ve learned along the way.
Sometimes marriage is hard
Marriage can be difficult. I’m not talking about “cheating” hard, but day-to-day hard. When finances get tight and you are both doing everything you know to do. When you are parenting and you think one way about a situation, and your spouse sees it different. When you used to feel close, but the intimacy has slipped away somehow.
When marriage is hard, we might be tempted to see only the challenges, and yet it’s been helpful for me to ask these questions.
Do I see us as a team, or am I in this for myself?
What good do I find in this man I love?
How can we fight this together?
When I ask those questions, it includes the man I love in the battle.
When I write down the good, it balances my right-now feelings.
When I trust God that we are worth fighting for, it shifts the battle from a me-centered fight to a partnership.
Sometimes we give everyone else the good stuff
The other night I slipped in beside my husband at the end of the day. I lay in his arms and we talked. I’m goofiest when I’m with Richard, and before long we were both laughing.
He said, “If only everyone else could see this side of you.”
Just writing that makes me feel a little vulnerable, because it’s so private. Yet, here’s the truth. I don’t want to give the best of me to everyone else and what’s left to the people I love.
Every single day I’m ministering in some way. Writing books. Blogging. Creating messages and teaching. Leading Bible studies. When I’m doing these things, it’s an act of worship and I love it. The downside is there’s deadlines, juggling multiple tasks, and sometimes there’s pressure (as in any job). I could easily pour out and pour out to others, and bring the teaspoon I have left over and hand it to my husband or my family.
Sadly, I can say there are times that has happened.
When I’m in that place, it’s time to examine my life and my priorities. Not just examine it, but be willing to adjust.
Who is receiving the best of me?
Am I out of balance?
Are there changes that need to be made?
I don’t want to be nice to everyone else, and cruddy to Richard. I don’t want to look back one day and see that I lived out of balance in my relationships. More than anyone else, I want my family to have received the good from me — including the goofiness that they both love and groan about.
Am I refreshing or depressing?
Last, I’ve learned that I can be refreshing, or depressing. Though my nature leans toward the positive, there are times it dips in the other direction. That can look like:
- critical words
- passive-agressive replies
- silence that hurts
We really do have a choice in this.
The other night Richard was sharing a disappointment. It weighed heavy on him. I could think of a few things that I thought would help. I could also think of a few negatives that he hadn’t considered. He needed neither of those.
He needed “refreshing” – to reinvigorate, replenish, revive, breathe new life into, cheer. Rather than the opposite — to discourage, break, dull, hurt, depress, shut down.
After listening, I simply said, “I believe in you, babe.”
In that exact moment, he needed to know that I was with him in the battle. We’d talk more in-depth later, but all he needed was to be refreshed.
I’m not talking about enabling, or coddling someone in poor behavior. That’s a different post for a different day. Instead, it’s asking this question:
Am I depressing or refreshing?
Right now. In this conversation. In this day-to-day interaction. Which have I chosen?
How can I intentionally refresh this one I love?
Refreshing looks at the situation and the person from their side of the sidewalk. It’s seeing their battles. It’s acknowledging who they are as a person — all the goodness that lives inside of them. It’s being truthful, but with mercy, grace, love, and a total lack of selfish ambition in your words and actions.
Depressing is knowing the words that will discourage that person, and using them lavishly. It’s pulling away, waiting for that one to come to you to make things right when you are both in the wrong. It’s shutting down healing conversations because they are hard. It’s pushing away the leading of the Holy Spirit in that situation, or using faith to make that person feel worse (if you were a Christian, you’d. . . ).
It’s not perfect. Not for a moment. It’s choosing to refresh rather than depress. It’s an honest form of love that has give and take, but you are leaning toward the “give.”
We are in a month that talks a lot about love.
While I love receiving flowers or going to dinner, I think love is more than a day. It’s more than a month. It’s a life time of working toward the sweetest and best relationship you can have. It’s working through conflict when there seems to be no resolution. It’s saying you’re sorry. It’s forgiveness. It’s praying for that person when you really don’t feel like it.
What is one thing you have learned about marriage? I’d love to hear it.
What is one thing that someone who does it well has shown you about marriage? I’d love to hear that too.
If your marriage is in a hard place, just say, “Pray for me.” You don’t have to give details. We’ll wrap around you and pray.
Love you big,
You can find Suzie’s Blog by clicking here