Most of us struggle with self-will, and that problem most emerges in marriage. No other relationship so blends the amount of time spent together and the intricate meshing of lives with its closeness and importance. Understandably, that connection gets the most threatened by our selfishness. Ironic, the surprise that hit me on our 39th anniversary celebration.
As we prepared to go out, Sheila bent down getting dressed and felt something move in her back. Minor, it seemed. By Monday evening, the excruciating pain kept her from being able to rise on her own. Tuesday saw two visits to medical providers, another on Saturday, again on Thursday, and an X ray and back specialist the following Monday, where a back fracture was finally discovered. This week features an MRI, a consultation with a radiologist, and likely a radiological intervention to insert cement into the vertebra the next week. Mix in two more phone appointments with two different doctors.
Yes, the pain is decreasing. No, it hasn’t disappeared. But she can’t climb onto or off our bed, so has slept on the couch that I make up each day. Until the last few days, I’ve had to lift her from the couch, and everywhere she sits. I’ve been doing the laundry, the cooking, the dishwashing. About it all. The irony?
I have grown so much closer to her in this time. In 39 years we’ve experienced joy and pain, healing and the joy of restoration. But this intimacy has never been matched. Why? Here’s a spiritual principle that blasted my previous thoughts. The more we love God, the more we love God’s people. But the more we love God’s people, the closer we get to them.
God designed us to help one another. Part of our spiritual and emotional and physical DNA. I thought of Jesus’ statement, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13). We most love when give up our desires to meet the needs they cannot. Not necessarily the needs they can meet, doing that can lead into codependency.
My increased closeness to Sheila arose from laying down my desires to lift hers up. And the context of this passage should have given me a hint of a totally unexpected result. My closeness to God skyrocketed. Temptations decreased in strength, greatly. I got into his word more regularly. Why?
What did Jesus do soon after saying this? He gave his life for us. So as we lay down our lives and serve others, we become more Christlike. Closer to him. Totally understandable, isn’t it?
Kick Starting the Application
The Kick Start challenge this week: intentionally look for opportunities to put your desires aside so you can serve another. Try to determine if that gives you an increased closeness to them. To God. Feel free to share your findings here or on Facebook.