I have a pink Bible. When it was given to me by my parents 25 years ago it was a rich maroon. But sadly, it turns out that when you keep a maroon Bible for a quarter century, it fades to pink. Somehow, I can't bring myself to discard it. I have 25 years worth of notes, scribbles, and highlights and I can't imagine starting over. So for the foreseeable future, I'm packing a pink Bible. Revoke my man card if you must.
A few days ago, I came across Psalm 139. Verses 23-24 say this: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." In the margin beside this verse I had written - many years ago and in blue ink - the following words in all caps: "DAILY PRAYER FOR MARRIAGE." I can't remember when I wrote this or why. But whatever the occasion, I think it was a moment of brilliance.
This honest prayer of David is a great prayer for any married person. Why? Because in almost every conflict or disagreement in our relationships, we have a real tendency to note the offenses of the other while neglecting to see that we might have offended, as well. We are great at finding the faults in the other but pretty crummy at seeing faults in ourselves.
I see this played out in what I call "one-on-one" marriage counseling. This is when someone comes to me to share the troubles in his or her marriage without their spouse being present. They share a long list of grievances and pains they have suffered at the hand of their spouse. I usually leave these encounters angry at the horrible person they are married to. Later, when I confront the spouse, I get to hear their side of the story (featuring all the ugly details that the first person left out). I usually see that both parties have pretty equal responsibility for their issues. It's why I avoid one-on-one marriage counseling like the plague. It's just not worth the time.
But this happens because it's our natural tendency to highlight the faults in our spouse, expecting them to own up and repent of all of them, while failing to see our own shortcomings. We all do this to some extent.
So that's why Psalm 139:23-24 makes a great daily prayer for marriage. It calls me to go to God regularly, asking Him to show me the selfish motives of my heart, the corrupt nature of my thoughts, and the hurtful way I might be treating my wife. I may be pure and innocent in my own eyes, but God shows me lots of insights when I see things from His perspective...and through Jenifer's eyes. Who I am and what I am doing to her is not always pretty.
Let me encourage you to scribble this powerful verse on a card somewhere and make it something you pray regularly. Be open to what God wants to show you. Then, be willing to confess your shortcomings to your spouse. God can only be honored in our lives and marriages when we own up to our ugly stuff and ask Him to make things beautiful again.
*Check back in early 2014 for information on our new book, The Talk(s): A Parent's Guide to Talking about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables. You can click on the link to read a brief excerpt. The book has been developed to assist parents as they help their kids navigate our hyper-sexualized culture.
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