The testimony of two

This Sunday was Mother’s Day. So Saturday was a great day to spend undermining S’s ability as a mother with my words and actions…

You can imagine that when I sat down to write a card on Sunday morning, even though words normally flow from my pen quite freely, this time I couldn’t do it. Not because the words weren’t there, but because my words weren’t backed up with my actions.

What’s the point of me writing “You do such a great job at x,y,z…”, when just the day before, everything I did screamed “You’re doing it wrong, my way is better…”

John 8:17 says “In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true.” Why the testimony of two? Well, I can write or say whatever I want, but unless S. bears witness to my words through my actions, that testimony is worthless. Until it is worked out and seen, it is purely words.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

– James 2:18

James is writing here about faith – but I believe this applies to love as well – our written or spoken expressions of love must be backed up by our actions. In fact, if our actions speak loud enough, we sometimes don’t even have to use words!

So here is the question I’m beginning to ask myself: How does she know? and the answer can’t be ‘because I say so’

  • How does she know that she’s valued?
  • How does she know that she is more important than my work?
  • How does she know that I respect her words?
  • How does she know that she is appreciated?
  • How does she know that I trust her words/actions/judgement?
  • How does she know that we’re on the same side?
  • How does she know that she is loved?

And the list could go on… Food for thought? I certainly have plenty of chewing to do…

 

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Mary tries to kill the judgement

This is not a statement of a major theological inaccuracy, but rather my 3-year old’s version of a current worship song…

You delight in showing mercy…

…Mary tries to kill the judgement (sic)

This may have become an ongoing joke in our family, but I hope that the real punchline of that verse is not lost for us forever…

Mercy triumphs over judgement

I recently read in this book (emphasis my own):

When you judge one sin in another person you have committed seven sins yourself! You fail to love Him, fail to be merciful, you have judged, you have condemned him in your heart, you have not sought to restore him, you have disobeyed God’s Word, and you are guilty of self-righteousness and pride in raising yourself above the one you have judged. So who is in the a worse state? You need God’s mercy to remove the plank from your own eye!

— Colin Urquhart, The Lord’s Orchard

This is one I have been contemplating in my marriage, as surprise, surprise, neither my wife or I are perfect. I am acutely more and more aware each day of the grace and mercy I need from God, but like the unmerciful ruler I don’t always seem to be able to pass that mercy or grace on to those who I feel wrong me, least of all within my home and marriage (and needless to say, normally about the most mundane of issues).

The truth is that when I judge, when I fight for ‘my point’ to be heard, or when I withhold forgiveness, I am actually putting barriers in the way of reconciliation.

God built in mercy and forgiveness to the very fabric of the Jewish culture through the sacrificial system. Jesus modelled grace to the highest degree when he took death upon Himself without a single fault of His own (Is. 53:7), James said we should ‘consider it pure joy’ when we face trials – even persecution…

So again, I’m left thinking… ‘how much more should I be showing mercy in my own home?!’ if God chose to forgive the worst of sinners, if Jesus took the weight of all of our sins upon Himself, if the apostles could be joyful in the face of persecution.

Which all leads me to one conclusion:

Through God’s grace, reconciliation with mankind was made possible…

…and if mercy opens the door to reconciliation, my prayer is that God blows that door right off!

God is love… But I am human

God is love. Every action, every story in the Bible shouts that love, even through to his discipline.

The pages of the Bible shout His love. Creation sings of His love. He chose us to show that love with our lives.

How loudly does my life shout about his love?

So what does this mean for me?

God is love and I am human. My frustration generally does not show my love (let alone God’s!), neither does my hurt or my upset…

But yet the same facts are true for me… There is never a moment when I don’t love S., there is never a moment when I don’t love my kids. (Even though that love may be pushed to the limits…)

So, logically – if the above is true, there must be a way I can learn to respond – even my most extreme emotions – in a way that pours out my love (or God’s love)?!

How do I learn from God to show my love at all times despite my humanity?

Can I be angry/ hurt/ frustrated/ disappointed/ [insert negative emotion here] and yet still show love?

Can I be human but learn from my creator? Can I explain my biggest frustrations with S. and have her feeling more loved and affirmed than when we started?

Can I call my kids up on something and have them know that my love is unconditional of their behaviour?

Ephesians 3:17-19 

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge— that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

You did what?!

So this post goes first in my soon-to-be-growing public catalogue of marital fails…

And what a way to start!!

Let’s set the scene first… Mid-January, I realise how many mistakes I’ve been making as a husband and start writing this blog as an outlet for processing and as a reminder to keep at the simple things…

After a good few weeks of progress I go away for 10 weeks on business, and do quite well on the whole, good contact, good communication, presents for all… Job done!

What a great guy I am.

Plane home. Great. Feeling pretty awesome about myself.

First day with the family. Pretty good. Presents a success. Oh yeah – got this husband/dad thing nailed…

Day 2. Have a few days off planned, to ‘reconnect with family’, but what do I do? 8am. Start decorating my home office… Wait a minute… What’s was that I hear you screaming?
I’ll repeat myself. Day 2. Started decorating my home office…

Yes, I really did embark on a work-based home project within 36 hours of landing home after 10 days away, during the time that I had booked to ‘reconnect with family’.

And yes, even my boss would be disappointed with my priority choice here.

And yes, I realise how high a percentage of readers are banging their hands against their heads in disbelief…

I thought I was doing so well up until then…

Yes, I know, this is one of those fails Homer Simpson would have been proud of.

Now, I had my reasons, and some really good ones too: I have some meetings in a few days that I needed to sort out the room for… Plus we had sick kids so we couldn’t really do much else out of the house… Also I prefer to get this kind of thing done quicker so it’s not hanging over, and it was a full moon on the second Sunday of the month, which everyone knows is the best time to start decorating… You see, really solid case I have here…

But what I realise now is that it makes a difference what I do first.
That is to say:

I need to make my first thing the first thing!

When I’ve been out of the country for the best part of two weeks, the balance needs to be reset: S. has to be shown that I value her over the work that has occupied my life 100% for the last 10 days.

The best way I can do that is to give her the time of day, to hear from her, to actually ask how her time has been, to let her debrief and unload before I launch into my projects, my stories, my my my…

Whatever I do first is going to be understood as my priority, even if it is not and I have perfectly ‘valid’ reasons!

Now, part of me feels that this particular mistake was a one off with extraneous circumstances, but I’d be foolish not to learn from the principle here, otherwise you’ll likely see me writing another sheepish piece in a few months time!

I will get a second chance at doing a ‘re-entry’ well before long (not that I want to go away again!), but I did well and truly blow this one.

Actually, this principle doesn’t just apply to long trips – what do I do after a day out at work? Straight to phone to pick up more emails? What about straight into my world and my hobbies? Or offloading from my day without sparing a thought for hers?

Reminds me of this:

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

In short. I need to make sure she knows the value she holds in my eyes. I need to show it with my words, my time and my priorities…

And if you screw up? Don’t forget to say sorry. And sorry I am, because it’s me who starts work tomorrow without having been blessed with much-needed quality time with my other half.

But as for the last few days, other than a lesson learned, I leave you with the wise words of our great modern day sage, Homer (Simpson):

Doh!