Marriage

1Sep

Stop Doing This One Thing in Your Marriage

When we were in premarital counseling, our leader told us many wonderfully helpful things. However, this one thing seemed to stick out from all the rest:

Don’t talk bad about your spouse.

It’s one thing that seems so simple, yet something at which so many seem to fail. Because it’s so easy. You see, we forget that gossip is still gossip even if it’s true. It’s slander if it’s false. If your spouse does something that ruffles your feathers, you still don’t have a license to go “vent” or “unload” or “blow off steam” with your friends. It’s just not okay.

I see this happen all the time with men and women.

At some point, it became popular among men to complain about their wives. They paint pictures (no matter how accurate they may be) of nagging wives who only have more chores or tasks for them to do. Who does this help? How does this convey marriage to the next generation?

More importantly, when you joke or complain about your spouse, what image does that convey about them as a person, as your person? What do your co-workers think about the one you’ve sworn to love and serve when you talk bad about your spouse? What about your mutual friends? What about your own kids?

Some studies have concluded that on average women speak 13,000 more words per day than men. The studies do not venture a guess at how many of those “bonus” words are used to speak poorly of their husbands. Sitcoms have set a bad precedent, portraying husbands as little more than bumbling buffoons who want little more than sex and a sandwich.While this may be the reality for some, it is definitely not for all. Many women are married to hard-working, kind-hearted, dedicated men who love and serve their wives well.

Both men and women frequently talk about their spouses to co-workers, friends, and family. These conversations can be harmless: recounting the weekend’s activities, keeping a friend updated, or answering a co-worker’s caring questions about one’s spouse.

Yet words spoken about a spouse can also quickly become harmful. I think this frequently happens accidentally, but it still needs to be fixed. With friends and co-workers, you should never even give them a chance to see your spouse as anything less than the way you see them, or should see them if you don’t currently hold your spouse in high regard.

However, family is different. When Hayley and I were in premarital counseling, our pastor especially stressed the importance of not speaking poorly about your spouse in front of our family. Parents, imagine if your child called you, hurt or frustrated by their spouse. Maybe it was a simple misunderstanding and feelings were unintentionally hurt or maybe it was an intense argument and deep seeds of conflict were sown. Either way, your child has not worked this out with their spouse yet and they’re passionately recounting the events to you over the phone…what’s your reaction? You will probably side with your child, even if they’re wrong. But that can make things really hard for a married couple, especially when newlyweds are trying to establish new relationships with in-laws.

So who can you talk to about with your spouse? You know it’s not good to keep some of those bitter thoughts bottled up. I would recommend two sources:

1.) Marriage counselor. These people are amazing. Super smart and super caring. They’ll sincerely listen and understand your frustration but they will also point out where you are off track and walk you through ways to make things better. Sharing openly and honestly about your spouse to a professional counselor shows you care enough to work at your marriage because you know it doesn’t just happen (See: Nobody Owes Your Happiness)

2.) A trusted marriage mentor couple. Hayley and I have unofficially had these at every stage in our marriage thus far. You’re looking for an older couple who you know cares about both of you and is not afraid to hold you accountable. They’re also not afraid to walk you down the wise path in your marriage. They are right there with you in the trenches. They are not just giving you trite marriage truisms. Instead, they regularly share real life advice born from real life relationships.

No matter the situation, never talk bad about your spouse. You don’t need to vent to your girlfriends or complain about your wife with the guys. When conflict arises in your marriage…

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

13Aug

How to Date as a Christian

 1.) Be legit.

If you want to find and date someone who has an authentic relationship with Jesus, you need to have an authentic relationship with Jesus. If you want to date someone who reads Scripture daily, is involved in a local church, and gives of their time and resources sacrificially, you need to be doing those things as well. And you need to be doing them because that’s who you are, not just to garner the attention of someone else.

This truth can also be applied to every area of your life…how you shop, where you eat, who you hang out with, and your general likes and dislikes. Far too often, single people try and be someone they’re not. 

Even if you end up marrying that person you’ll both be unhappy in the long run once the truth about both of you surfaces.

2.) Make a list of what you want in a spouse.

Some people mistakenly think what they’re looking for in a spouse has little to do with what they’re looking for in a person to date. You should never date someone you know you could never marry.

Make the list realistic. Things like specific hair color and hobbies should not make the cut but you also need to make the list challenging. Things like hard work ethic and compassionate should make the list. Set the bar high because someone out there might be setting theirs high as well. Maybe they are currently telling others no because they’re really waiting for someone like you to come along!

3.) Make a list of what you commit to be as a spouse.

This list is much less common but easily more important. Regardless of your age and stage in life, who is it that you are willing to commit to be in a future marriage? Look for people to date who compliment and challenge this list as well.

This list should be at least twice as long as the list of what you want.

4.) Remember your true identity.

Jerry Maguire is a liar. Nobody completes you but Jesus. It’s true, You May Never Get Married. If that never happens [again] for you, is Jesus still enough? The “abundant life” Jesus promises to give to his followers is not exclusively offered to married people! (John 10:10)

So don’t buy into the lie that without a spouse you are somehow a second class citizen, damaged goods, or less loved by God.

5.) Don’t ditch your friends.

Don’t be the one who dates someone and 3 months into their new relationship they’ve all but cut themselves off from their genuine, long-standing friends. Now obviously these friendships change as a relationship moves closer to marriage, as it should. But date in a way that when you break up (has it ever ended any other way?) you’ll still have your friends at your side.

A word for opposite sex friends: As you get closer and close to marriage, a man’s best friend other than his [soon-to-be] wife needs to be a man and a woman’s best friend other than her [soon-to-be] husband needs to be a woman.

6.) Set specific physical boundaries…and don’t break them!

This is a BIG deal. Mistakes happen. But there’s a LOT you can do to prevent yourself from making a bad decision you will regret later.

A note to divorced people: Even though you were previously married, you still need these. You can’t expect your teenage children to follow guidelines you’re not willing to adhere to as well.

This is ultimately a respect issue. Do you respect the person you’re dating enough to honor and protect them from sin? Could you give them away at their wedding day to someone else with no regrets?

Don’t wait to do this! You will never set them in the moment. If people are making fun of your boundaries, it’s probably because you’re on the right track.

When Hayley and I were dating in college, until the day we were married, these were our physical boundaries. We weren’t perfect at them, but we were very successful at maintaining them. These helped our marriage get off to a great start. These are what worked for us but they might be a good starting point for you:

  1. Never lay down together. Not for a nap. Not just to kiss. Not just one time. Keep it vertical, friends!
  2. Never stay the night.
  3. Never touch an area that is covered by an undergarment.
  4. Never be alone in an apartment/house together. What do you need to do in private together that you can’t do at a coffee shop, in a park, with friends, or at a restaurant?
  5. SHARE your boundaries with a very small group (2-3) of older people you trust and ask them to hold you accountable.

One of the best things that happened to me during this time of our life was a good friend of mine asked me to text him every night when I was on my way home from hanging out with Hayley. I texted him up until the day we married and I will always be thankful for him. Accountability is not a bad word and nobody is too good for it!

Questions for feedback: What would you add to the list? What tip(s) do you disagree with?

10Aug

Start a Ruckus Today

Does what you’re working on today really matter at all?

Sisyphus is a fascinating but little-known character in Greek mythology.  He gets in some pretty bad trouble and is tasked with spending eternity rolling a huge boulder up a giant hill only to have it fall back down to the bottom where he returns to repeat this mind-numbing, muscle-crushing exercise. His life is spent fuming in unending frustration and toiling in futile effort.

Do you ever feel like Sisyphus, like you are banished to repeatedly perform the same boring tasks that comprise a dull and uninteresting life?

Have you ever asked this question, “Why are things the way they are?” only to receive this answer, “Because that’s the way it’s always been.” Maybe it’s time for you to stop accepting the status quo. Who cares if this is always the way it’s been done if nobody can explain why it’s still done this way.

It happens all the time. I’ll be sitting and talking with someone and they say something like, “Man, I’m just not feeling close to God anymore” or “My marriage just isn’t quite what it used to be.” I’ll ask them the same two questions wise people have asked me when I had similar thoughts.

  1. What are you currently doing to foster those relationships?
  2. What of those current actions is different than your previous routine?

The wisdom behind the first question is obvious: If someone is complaining about their level of happiness but is unwilling to work on improving it, a separate conversation needs to happen. They need to be reminded that nobody owes us happiness.

The wisdom behind the second questions is fairly simple as well yet can be much harder to actually put into practice. Many of us are failing in life, marriage, and work because we’re simply living in the past, still celebrating past successes instead of focusing on the present and preparing for the future. But another group also needs to hear this question: those who keep doing the same things over and over again while expecting different results. Sometimes what we need most is is what we want least: CHANGE.

But why is it that some people tend to live through times of change better than others?

  • Why in the world do some people seem to enjoy change?
  • Why do some marriages succeed while others fail?
  • Why do some people get promoted while others settle into unintended complacency?

Why do older adults struggle to keep up with the most recent social media apps but teenagers seem to move fluidly from one to the next with little to no learning curve?

Why are newspapers dying but writers are thriving on Twitter/blogs/online magazines?

Why was R.A. Dickey an awful pitcher for years with the Texas Rangers but then later won a Cy Young award with the New York Mets?

The answer to all these questions lies in one simply word: disruption.

Disruption is inevitable. It is not a question of “if” but “when” disruption and change come crashing down. As much as we might wish to, we cannot control it. But we can control our response to the unexpected.

Some people seem to enjoy change more than others because they know disruption of the status quo can be a really good thing.

Some marriages succeed while others fail because two people refuse to get stuck in a marital rut that eventually erodes away their life together.

Some people get promoted while others settle for unintended complacency because they know every significant advance in the history of the WORLD started as a disruption from the norm, an unexpected and probably unwanted change.

Older adults struggle to keep up with social media (if they even want to) because they are flabbergasted at the idea of learning 3 new platforms once they have finally mastered one. They don’t want to change.

Newspapers are dying because they refuse to move to online platforms…you know…the places where everybody else has been reading the new for a few decades now.

Last and definitely least, R.A. Dickey was so terrible for so long as a Texas Ranger because he was a bad pitcher. Until he took unexpected time off (because nobody wanted him) and reinvented himself as a knuckleballer. In 2012 he accomplished what no other knuckleballer ever had; he won a Cy Young award (given to each league’s best pitcher).

So what about you?

I doubt you need to ditch your career in marketing to reinvent yourself as a knuckleballer. But who knows?

You probably do need to consider how to lean into disruption instead of running from it. You do need to learn how to harness the potential blessing of unexpected change.

In his book, Tribes, Seth Godin takes it one step further. He advocates for you and me to not merely lean in to change, but start causing it! Be a change agent in every arena possible. Don’t just accept the disruption. Start it!

One of my friends wants Apple to make a Southern version of Siri named Charlene that would call you “honey” while always telling you where the closest sweet tea was. Think a digital, less-racist Paula Deen. Maybe she could mutter disapprovingly  “Bless his heart” when some madman cuts you off in traffic.

If this Charlene Siri could encourage you to change a stuck area of your life, she would simply say,

“Start a ruckus today!” 

6Aug

I’m So Glad I’m Failing

It all started a few years ago in our Texas garage. Not as a dream, but as a necessity. A stress-reliever. A much-needed escape.

Before my wife’s growing company, All Things New Interiors, was…

  • a profitable booth in the largest store of its kind in our city
  • a professionally designed website
  • a company offering in-home interior design consultations
  • featured on one of the nation’s largest interior design blogs
  • K…wife bragging over

Before it was anything, it was a much needed creative outlet during an incredibly stressful time in our lives. At that time, there were few ways we experienced the grace of God more than in the beginning days of that dream in our garage.

On January 1st of this year I launched my own dream, www.steven-hill.me, my personal blog on faith and culture. In a post just before the official launch I stated my main goal for the blog:

I want to become a better writer this year. That’s my main motivation for this blog. It’s unashamedly for me. If it is worthwhile outside of advancing my skills as a writer, that’s wonderful. However, if it accomplishes that initial goal it will be a success in my eyes.

While my meager 50-ish posts this far have accomplished a shadow of this goal, I have mostly failed in my writing venture. My second goal came in the form of a commitment: to post 3 times per week. I checked today and I haven’t posted in almost 3 months and there were several stretches where I did not write for at least a week.

There’s a million reasons people fail at blogs, and that’s what it is: failing and the “reasons” given are nothing more than excuses.

However, I chose to fail in my blog because I wanted to trade one dream for another. Mine for my wife’s. I always knew I would return to the blog at some point, but I honestly felt (accurately) that we were entering a window for All Things New Interiors to succeed that would quickly close if we didn’t leap through it.

My evenings changed from writing and editing to updating inventory and advertising our products across various media platforms. I went from reading and researching future articles to delivering and acquiring furniture all across the River Valley.

Even though my temporary writing cessation was not the typical, slacker-blogger burnout, I am failing to achieve my original goals, and I could not be happier. It was a joyful trade of one dream for another. My blog failure was a conscious, calculated decision to place priority in the right place.

Over the last few months, saying “yes” to my blog was not worth the things I would have to say “no” to in order to make it happen.

We recently celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and this past year has been the best year so far, due in no small part because of our partnership in this venture. I have written regularly about marriage but have learned the most about marriage from laying aside one dream for another.

I remember when we first tried to expand All Things New Interiors outside of our garage in Texas. I took some of our “top” items (terrible quality compared to the work we do now) to a local antique shop where I knew the owner. She came out to my car as I walked her through the steps we did to breath life into the old bones of these pieces, foolishly beaming with pride. She rejected our furniture time and time again.

Looking back on that time now, I am so glad we were rejected then because if we weren’t we might not be where we are now. I was commuting 2.5 hours to seminary twice a week and working full-time so I did not have time then to help make that dream a reality like I do now.

I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now. Maybe you’ve been rejected or are experiencing a setback. Maybe you can’t quite seem to get your dream off the ground or maybe you need a creative outlet like we did to relieve stress.

There will come a time when this new dream will fail as well. My sincere prayer now is that when it does fail, it dies by giving way to an even better, more meaningful dream.

Wherever you are in life today, say yes to the things that matter most, even if it means trading one dream for another. You’ll be glad to fail too.

18May

How to Fight

A few weeks ago I wrote about what my wife and I fight about.

This sparked some good conversations about how married couples should respond to each other in times of conflict. In our marriage it has proven helpful to prepare before these times arrive and not just assume they never will.

Truth: married people fight. Hopefully not all the time. Hopefully not about the same thing. And hopefully not for just any reason.

So why do we fight? Why can marriage lead to more conflict than any other relationship while also leading to more joy than any other relationship? I think it’s because our spouses see us at our worst. You can fake it for a long time at work. And you can definitely fake it at church. But you can’t fake it in marriage, at least not for long. Even when couples split up because one person cheats, the other person is usually not completely fooled into thinking they were living in a healthy, thriving marriage.

So if conflict is inevitable, what are the rules? How can married couples fight well and fight less?

Here are 3 things that have helped us in times of conflict:

1. Remember that people fight over/for what they care about.

We’ve all heard the story. A marriage crumbles and the friends can’t figure out why. “They never fought about anything!” a relative might exclaim. Well maybe that’s the problem. The deeper relationships get, the more prone to conflict they can become. Maybe the couple that never fights does not have a relationship fighting for. In the midst of conflict, it is important to remember that if your spouse didn’t care about your marriage, they wouldn’t care enough to fight.

2. Remember who/what you’re fighting against.

Have you ever had a fight so long you forgot what started it? Maybe you both had bad days and one comment started to build on another until you have no idea how you got to this point. In that moment, you end up fighting for no reason because you’re both fighting against your own selfishness. More often than not, conflict in marriage can be traced back to one problem we all share: sin. We mess up in marriage when we try and hide the sin in our own lives by pointing out the sins in our spouse’s life.

“12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

Remember, nobody owes you happiness so do the hard work of realizing what’s at stake.

3. Give and receive forgiveness.

This might be the key. If at least some level of conflict is unavoidable in marriage, the true difference between a healthy, thriving marriage and a dying one very well be in how, and if, resolution is produced.

Giving forgiveness can seem almost impossible. Usually you have to choose to forgive before you receive an apology. Receiving forgiveness can be even more difficult than giving it.

In healthy marriages, spouses don’t keep score. Forgotten dishes one day can’t become fight fodder the next. A misunderstanding today doesn’t turn into a lack of love tomorrow. Give and receive forgiveness by refusing to keep score.

Question: What tips do you have for navigating conflict in marriage?

4May

My Wife Hates Our House

Well, she used to.

It probably didn’t help that she never saw it before we owned it. Smooth move, Steven.

But now she loves it!

Yesterday we celebrated the first year in our house. For this week’s Marriage Monday she guest blogs and reflects on the last year of our marriage, a year she claims (and I agree) has been our best.

You can read her original post on her blog, All Things New Interiors, by clicking here, or just read below.

One Year in Our Home

By: Hayley Hill

Today marks the 1 year anniversary from the day we moved into our home.

Can I share a secret with you?

I hated it at first. Seriously. I was like, why did we move into this?

photo(11)How about some perspective?

We had just sold our new-ish (5 year old) home in Texas after being there a year, complete with granite counters, a large master bathroom and closet, and tile floors. The house needed nothing done to it. Tour Our Home: Master bathroomBut it lacked character. And I like a challenge.

When we moved into our current home every wall was beige. The windows to the backyard were covered by tiny shutters. There was an awful chandelier in the dining room. Olive green walls in the guest bathroom. Brass everywhere. An outdated kitchen with lots of laminate.

photo 2 (23) photo 3 (7)Like I said, I like a challenge. And this house has given that to us. We have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this place over the last year. Nearly every wall has been painted (some twice). We did a new countertop treatment and installed backsplash to update the kitchen. We took down shutters to expose a view of our lovely yard. We personalized and made it our own.

IMG_0340And in case you can’t tell, now I’m in love with our home.

Sure there are times when I wish we had a soaker tub. Or a sit-at bar. Or a large master closet.

But life goes on without those things. And we have had more sweet memories in this house than the last, despite it’s (relative) old age and lack of fancy upgrades.

We have had multiple family gatherings here to celebrate Christmas, New Years, birthdays, and life.

IMG_0024We have hosted a church home group here every week since September and have seen our home be a place for comfort, fellowship, conversation, and the sharing of struggles and joys.

We have made friends in this home and cried together watching the series finale of HIMYM as well as laughed at several Jimmy Fallon skits.

We have gotten our finances back on track in this home, and though in hindsight it was not the best financial decision to buy a home given Dave’s Baby Steps, we are thankful for it.

We have seen our marriage flourish in the home over the past year as our time in graduate school and living apart for a few months ended and we settled into our new life in Arkansas. The simplicity of life since we have been here has been glorious and much needed to refresh us.

In short, this is home. Not only because we have turned it from boring to beautiful, but because this is where our life has been. And the best year of our marriage.

I’ll be sharing a few more posts this coming week about where our house has been this past year. I’ll share our favorite projects, what we’ve learned from this home, and what’s coming up soon.

1May

Stop Believing This Lie

I’m consistently disappointed when I expect something fake to satisfy like something real.

Like the McRib. I love the McRib.

Except I don’t. But every time it comes around, I have to have it.

mcrib

Maybe it’s the clever marketing. Maybe it’s the way it only comes around every now and then. Maybe it’s how I always seem to find a friend who’s stupid/curious enough to want to embark on this culinary adventure with me.

fakemcrib

(The above picture is a real picture taken by a McDonald’s employee while unpacking cases of frozen McRibs)

But here’s my problem with the McRib: it’s wildly disappointing…every time. Every time I’ve had it, I regret it. The expectations I allow myself to build up are never met.

Why don’t I love the McRib like I love a good rack of ribs? Because I believe the same lie we all believe in some area(s) of our lives: that something fake can satisfy like something real.

But fake can be so much more convenient than the real thing…

  • It’s easier to snag a drive-thru McRib than smoke a rack of ribs.
  • It’s easier to fake a friendship than be there for someone when it’s inconvenient.
  • It’s easier to give up than endure.
  • It’s easier to blow through money you don’t have than to stick to a budget.
  • It’s easier to follow attraction into whatever bed it takes you than to honor your vows to your spouse.
  • It’s easier to slack off when given trust by a boss instead of working hard no matter who’s watching.

We’ve got to stop believing the lie that fake is better just because fake is easier.

  • Don’t settle for being a fake friend.
  • Don’t settle for being a fake spouse.
  • Don’t settle for being a fake co-worker.
  • Don’t settle for being a fake version of who God made you to be.

If you want to read more about how the Gospel can help you upgrade your life from fake to real, check out Timothy Keller’s book, Prodigal God. You can purchase the book below:

 

Question: Is there a part of your life you need to upgrade from fake to real?

Feel free to leave a comment below.

28Apr

The 1 Thing We Fight About

Does your marriage ever feel more like a UFC fight than a love story?

My wife and I have never really fought that much but when we do it’s always about one thing: money.

We also have one rule when we fight that we’ve both come close to breaking: Nobody can leave. No storming out of the house. No going for a walk. No friend’s house. Everybody stays. We don’t have to be in the same room and we don’t even have to finish the fight right then but nobody leaves.

We’ll celebrate 4 years of marriage together in less than a month. Even though I can count on one hand the times we’ve had fights where we’ve had to remember our one rule, they were all about the same thing, money. All the medium-level fights we’ve ever had have been about the same thing, money. In fact, basically every time we’ve argued about something other than money, we quickly realized that we were really arguing about money.

But that all changed about 6 months ago. Hayley and I went through Dave Ramsey‘s Financial Peace University at our church. We haven’t had a fight about money since. Long story short, we know where every single dollar of our money goes because we have a plan and we work the plan, together. As followers of Jesus, we realized that proper money management was more than just wise marriage advice; it was a discipleship issueClick here to find out where FPU is offered in your area.

I don’t know where you’re at in your marriage or what your financial situation is. But I do know there are tremendous benefits from being on the same page financially. It’s an absolute must.

4 Thoughts on Being Financially Unified in Marriage:

  • You build trust and intimacy when you work toward a financial goal togethedavestip_marathonr. This is true regardless of what age and stage you are in your marriage. Right now, we’re in the debt payoff stage. We’re gazelle intense, as Dave would say. You might be in a different spot. Maybe you’re saving for a house. Maybe you’re looking to give more than you ever have or trying to retire early. Whatever it is, working hard at it together will make anything in your marriage seem possible. Unfortunately,the opposite is also true. Doing it apart makes everything in your marriage seem impossible.

 

  • davestip_budgetDisagreeing isn’t always fighting. After several half-hearted attempts that fell apart over categories like shopping, eating out, and…baseball tickets, we finally sat down and made a full budget. We told every single dollar that comes in the front door where it goes. (You can download the same budget template we use every month here). As we wrestled through the budget-making process we were tempted to quit because we mistook disagreements for arguing. It’s not a fight when one spouse wants to spend less per month on clothing or more on entertainment than the other. It’s just something you need to work through…together.

 

 

davestip_marriage

 

  • When you fight with your spouse about money you’re really losing a fight against your own selfishness. Don’t be mistaken: it takes 2 people to fight. Even if you feel you’re only 3% wrong, you’re still 3% wrong. Focus on serving and loving your spouse and let them focus on serving and loving you.

 

 

davestip

  • Being on the same page about money helps you dream together. Clearly communicating about money means you’re clearly communicating about your dreams. Before you know it, your love for each other is growing in the trenches of life, fighting and scratching toward your dreams…together.

 

 

How do you and your spouse make sure you’re on the same page about money?

24Apr

Are You Living in the Past?

Some things are just old. Crusty. Smelly. Kinda saggy.

At best these things are historic, but at worst they’re outdated and ineffective.

Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, is one of those things. Disclaimer: I LOVE Wrigley Field and have spent the last two days there. I’m going to a White Sox/Rays game tonight on the other side of Chicago which will be far superior in baseball quality but will pale in overall comparison to the Wrigley experience.

The first day I was at Wrigley this week, they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first professional baseball game played within the Friendly Confines. The fanfare was awesome. The ballpark was decked out like you wouldn’t believe. It was almost like Theo forgot the Cubs were in last place and decided to just throw a party anyway.

Far and away the best moment of the celebration was just before the game started. The Cubs brought back all these iconic legends from past Cubs and Chicago Bears teams. (The Bears played 50 years of football games at Wrigley).

I was 30 rows away from the real life versions of the statues that reside outside the stadium.

Cubs Legends included “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks, “Sweet Swingin'” Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, and Andre Dawson.

Bears Legends included Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers.

dempsterThen the Cubs announced someone as a “legend” who absolutely baffled me: Ryan Dempster.

Dempster pitched for the Cubs for parts of 9 seasons, sometimes as a their closer, other times as the staff ace. However, he was an underwhelming 67-66 as a Cub. An above-average MLB pitcher? Yes. A Cubs all-time legend? NO.

I actually got to meet Ryan Dempster yesterday. He was a Ranger for a few months in a playoff push down the stretch so I was excited to get to talk with him for a brief moment. He lived up to his potential as one of the “good guys” in baseball, a fan favorite even. But he’s not a Cubs legend.

Then it hit me as the Cubs choked away a 3-run lead in the 9th: This day was about past successes.

The Cubs are doing in baseball what so many of us are doing in our relationships, work lives, and faith: living in the past.

As the Cubs legends announced got closer and closer to modern day, they got less and less impressive.

Is the same true for you?

In your marriage: Are you living off past successes? That one great anniversary date instead of a regular date night? Have you stopped presently investing in the most important relationship in your life? It’s true: You May Never Get Married, and that’s okay. However, if you are married you have a great responsibility to your spouse to work toward cultivating a thriving marriage. Remember: Nobody Owes You Happiness. Don’t live in the past.

In your work: Are you living off past successes? No matter who you are, people are depending on you to succeed in the work place. If you’re married, your family’s livelihood depends on you doing well and working hard in the present, not in the past. If you’re single, there might be a future family depending on your present success sometime in the future. If you’re a Christian, the Gospel can greatly benefit when you succeed in the present, not just in the past. Can you imagine what the global Church could do if all of its members got a raise? No matter what age or stage of life you presently find yourself, don’t live in the past. Work hard in the present. See: Chop Wood, Carry Water.

In your faith: I realize this one doesn’t apply to everyone, and maybe our “living in the past” attitude as Christians in part of the reason why. Who would want to be a part of something that’s not actively a part of your life? Churches should never say…”Well this is just always the way we’ve done it in the past.” Christians should always be able to give a reason for their present hope in Jesus, not just something that happened at camp one time a bunch of summers ago. Is your faith stuck in the past? Do you need to reconnect with a local church? Do you need to shake up your own pursuit of God? Do whatever it takes. If you don’t know what it takes, ask someone you trust. You can also start here: 6 Questions Every Christian Needs to Answer.

Don’t be like the Cubs. Don’t get stuck in the past, only celebrating past successes.

How are you tempted to live in the past?

20Apr

3 Reasons I Got Married

I married Hayley 17 days after I turned 21. She was almost 24. The national average is significantly higher (27 for women, 29 for men). We were engaged 6 months and one day (because her mom called me one day kindly reminding me before I proposed that it takes 6 months to plan a wedding).

When I was praying about my desire to marry Hayley, I kept a running list of the reasons I wanted to marry her. Here are 3 reasons I got married to the greatest girl in the world.

1.) I knew God was calling me to die to the idea of someone else.

One could easily argue the #1 reason people don’t get married is centered around commitment. Some may fear it. Some may simply refuse to commit to a life devoted to one person. When I first met Hayley in college, I knew something was different about her. And while I didn’t pursue her perfectly, I remember this moment where I stopped comparing her to some immature idea I had of someone else. And honestly, she made it really easy to. I never ever considered cheating on Hayley, but I remembered, even when we were dating, that I liked the idea that there could be someone else. That if this didn’t work out or got too hard that I could always find someone else. Let’s just call that what it is: stupid.

She’s incredible, and marrying her will be my life’s greatest decision next to following Jesus.  Far too many people never taste the joys of marriage because no one seems to quite measure up to their idea of a perfect spouse. While you obviously shouldn’t marry just anybody, marry the one who makes the idea of someone else look silly.

2.) I felt this irresistible pull to lovingly serve my wife. 

Marriage isn’t ultimately about your happiness. It’s a wonderful bi-product of a healthy marriage but the joy in marrying Hayley came primarily from my desire to lovingly serve her. It’s still the most accurate measure for how healthy our marriage is. When I’m desiring to serve her more, our marriage is more healthy. When I’m selfish and want to focus on me instead, our marriage suffers. There’s a undeniable, direct correlation there.

Are you dating someone you feel a similar desire to lovingly serve? If so, you should begin to think, pray, and at the right time, talk about marriage together.

Maybe you’re already married but lack the desire to lovingly serve your spouse. You might explain this away because you believe there’s just not much serve-worthy about your spouse. However, this exposes this sin in your own heart more than any fault in your spouse. I’ve found that the more you lovingly serve your spouse, the easier it is when you don’t feel like it and the more and more you want to lovingly serve them.

3.) Why waste time missing out?

Ted Mosby wanted those 45 extra days.

When you know, you know.

Whatever you want to say about it, and all cliches aside, there was a point in our relationship when I just knew I would marry Hayley. While love is definitely a choice, and so much more than a feeling, there was this overwhelming feeling that I knew I wanted to be with her. I could not imagine life without her and realized I didn’t have to.  When we got married, we were young but prepared. We had jobs and life plans in place that we wanted to pursue together and we knew matched up well. We didn’t want to waste any time once we decided to commit our lives to one another in marriage.


 

I’m not sure if there are 3 universal reasons to get married, but I hope our 3 can help you.

If you’re stuck in a marriage rut, consider making a similar list. Remember what it was like at the beginning? What made you first decide to want to marry your spouse? What’s one thing you can change/do today to recapture that?

If you’re dating someone, do you have a plan? Are they marriage potential? Are you? Consider keeping a running list of all the marriage-worthy traits of your significant other. If you can’t find any, it’s time to move on.

Are you single? If so, can I encourage to hold a high standard for your future spouse? Think and discover what reasons are worth marrying someone and what aren’t.

If you got married before the national average (27 for women, 29 for men), why did you?

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