Reflecting on marriage

Jason and I mark 19 years of marriage tomorrow (July 12). I remember poring through so many books and articles on marriage that first year and trying to do everything exactly right to have the perfect marriage. What I didn’t understand early on, what actually took years to understand, was that I couldn’t manufacture enough of the tips and how-to suggestions to develop a marriage like what was in my head. It wasn’t something I could control. It would take total sacrifice for Jason and seeking God above all else (and vice versa on Jason’s part). While I finally understand marriage in itself is a lifelong learning journey, I would like to share some of what I have discovered along the way. More about sacrifice can be found below and a little on forgiveness can be found by clicking hereJ and J 2-14-16

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When my nephew, Jared, was a little bitty thing, he would get all over his brother with a consistent reminder, “It’s not all about you, Jacob!”

The boldness of his approach and the intensity behind his words always made me smile, but the clear truth behind his appeal has stuck with me since the first time it rolled out of his mouth.

The key to strength in any relationship points back to whether the two parties are going to be self-centered or other-centered. This is true with friends, co-workers, all formulas of family relationships and especially in marriage.

“It’s not all about you” was the focus of a recent article in Relevant magazine, “Marriage Isn’t About Your Happiness.”

An excerpt from the article by Debra K. Fileta says:

“Marriage is not about your happiness, it’s not even about you. It’s about love — which is something we choose to give time and time again. It’s about sacrifice, serving, giving, forgiving — and then doing it all over again. … Often, we’re choosing ‘personal happiness’ over real commitment, over real love.

“They say marriage teaches you more about selflessness than you ever wanted to know. … Because at the heart of it, real love is all about sacrifice. About the giving of yourself, in ways big and small.”

It’s about sacrifice

I agree with Fileta. Real love truly is all about sacrifice.

The seasons where my husband, Jason, and I focus sacrificially on each other at the same time bring such great blessings and richness to our relationship.

When one or the other decides to be less other-centered and more self-centered, frustrations mount and life is more strained.

And the times we decided to focus on ourselves rather than the other — simultaneously — it basically led to confusion, insecurity, disappointment and pain.

Being married long enough to have a variety of seasons (19 years tomorrow) also has given us the opportunity to truly start learning and growing in the process. And we both agree we prefer the sacrificial model hands down.

I do know that putting Jason’s needs before my own and sacrificing for him in big ways and small ways brings tremendous fulfillment and allows me to demonstrate real love, true love.

And I learned through the precious five and a half years we fought alongside our niece, Belle, in her cancer journey that the purity of the love received in return is worth all the pouring of yourself into another.

Ultimate model

It seems so obvious to me now but it took years for me to get to this point. I’m not sure why because we were given the ultimate model of sacrificial love to follow — Jesus Christ.

It seems silly to not figure it out sooner. The example is so powerful.

But if you, like me, struggle to focus entirely on Jesus in everyday life, then how much more will we struggle with giving of ourselves to ordinary humans?

My friend and colleague, Grace Thornton, reminds me often that we are to desire God first, before ourselves and anyone or anything else. And from that place we are to let our lives flow outward.

“His heart is for us to know Him,” Grace says, “making that the entire goal of our life and then trusting Him no matter what happens.”

—Jennifer Davis Rash

‘It’s not all about you’

When my nephew Jared was a little bitty thing, he would get all over his big brother with a consistent reminder, “It’s not all about you, Jacob!”

The boldness of his approach and the intensity behind his words always made me smile, but the clear truth behind his appeal has stuck with me since the first time it rolled out of his mouth.

The key to strength in any relationship points back to whether the two parties are going to be self-centered or other-centered. This is true with friends, co-workers, all formulas of family relationships and especially in marriage.

“It’s not all about you” was the focus of a recent article in Relevant magazine, “Marriage Isn’t About Your Happiness.”

An excerpt from the article written by Debra K. Fileta says:

“Marriage is not about your happiness, it’s not even about you. It’s about love — which is something we choose to give time and time again. It’s about sacrifice, serving, giving, forgiving — and then doing it all over again. … often, we’re choosing ‘personal happiness’ over real commitment, over real love.

“They say marriage teaches you more about selflessness than you ever wanted to know. I have definitely found that phrase to be true in my relationship with my husband. Because at the heart of it, real love is all about sacrifice. About the giving of yourself, in ways big and small.”

Read the full article here.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Friends that ‘outdo one another’

Greater love image revisedMy dear sweet friend had more on her to-do list than 200 people could accomplish in one week, but she didn’t flinch when my situation changed her plans.

She looked into my eyes and saw the 98-mile trek back home was going to be a challenge for me to accomplish on my own. She made a few quick adjustments to her return-trip plan, grabbed my car keys and tucked me safely into the passenger seat.

It was merely one of those crazy headaches I get every once in a while, but it was enough to make a simple hour and a half drive on the interstate seem daunting.

The day before another sweet friend secured a babysitter and hit pause on her routinely hectic day so we could celebrate our May birthdays over lunch. She also stuck around for several hours to help me with an important assignment that was on a tight deadline.

For the past few weeks — really for the past five months — my dear friends at The Alabama Baptist have worked extra hours or gone out of their way to help me with so many different personal and professional tasks, projects and assignments.

‘Love one another’

And then there are friends from church, my neighborhood and beyond who constantly surprise me with an encouraging word, a needed hug or a random act of kindness.

I am so blessed to be surrounded by such a crowd of special friends.

The Word tells us in John 15:12–15: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

“You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

And in Colossian 3:12–14, Paul says: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Doing life together

I sometimes have a hard time accepting help. I’m stubborn like that but I’m learning I really can’t walk life’s journey on my own. I definitely need the help of friends, and I love doing things for friends as well.

The little things are really fun and something I hope I never forget to do, but it is the helping in times of extreme need that fills my heart.

It is such a special gift for me when I get the privilege of doing something for someone that I know is truly needed and appreciated.

In fact, I had an opportunity like this recently when a friend was in a bind and needed someone to pick her up. It was really a simple request but it was urgent and it was such an honor to get the call asking if I could help.

And a few days before that my husband and I had an opportunity to assist a woman who was going to be stranded for hours had we not stepped in. We ended up having several mutual friends in common and connected on a spiritual level as well.

I could have easily ignored what I was hearing as she talked on the phone near me. She didn’t realize I was there and would have never known if I hadn’t helped, but I would have known.

—Jennifer Davis Rash