(on a side note -this post was written awhile back and I'm now just getting around to editing and updating. I have since finished the entire book and highly recommend it to any married couple.)
Closer - Right. The well known statement "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." I'm here to argue that statement. After a week of enlightenment, reflection, and a whole lot of soul searching, I'm here to say "Keep your friends close and push your enemies far." (Or at least one enemy.)
I'm not going to lie, I have indulged in many self-help books over that last few months. Many involving marriage, but several have included parenting books as well. Let's face it, marriage is an up and down roller coaster. Some days are good, and some days are not so good. We have definitely had a few "not so good days" around here - but the good thing is God is here, He knows about it, and He is in control of it all. I remember back in pre-mariatal counseling, our pastor had said marriage is about awaking each morning, rolling over and consciously making the decision to love your spouse whether you feel it or not. Love is a choice, not necessarily a feeling. I guess I never thought I would be one of those people who would ever have to make that choice - boy was I wrong.
But, not to diverge too much from what my original post was about, I will sharply turn right and veer back on course about enemies. To tie things together, because Dave and I have had to endure some rather difficult trials, I am in the process of reading a book entitled "How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong" by Leslie Vernick. Some wonderful and interesting ideas have been taken from this book and I'm only on Chapter 6. The one idea/concept that has totally thrown me for a loop and really changed my entire outlook this week came from Chapter 3. I am dying to share it with you all and challenge you to read the words and really take them to heart.
"remember who your enemy is. It is not your spouse. Satan might have your spouse, but don't let him have you. "
These words have resonated through my mind on several occasions this week after originally reading it on Tuesday. Can you even begin to grasp the concept of what Leslie Vernick is saying? When our spouse speaks or acts unkindly toward us, perhaps acting in an unChristlike way, inflicting pain upon us - he or she is not our enemy. It is Satan. For our spouse has allowed Satan access into their hearts and have acted in a sinful way. BUT that does not mean that Satan can have access to us. Just because we are wronged, we do not have to wrong back. We can deny Satan access to our hearts and counteract that pain and hurt with love and kindness. Oh how hard this can be. Our natural reaction when we are hurt is to hurt back. Our natural tendency is to fight fire with fire BUT that is not what Christ has called us to do. Our goal in life is to live like HE lived.
"...it is God's will for us to be conformed to the image of Christ. Therefore, God will allow difficulties in our lives so that we might be shaped and molded into his character. If we keep this picture in our mind, we can see that it is not our task to mold our spouse; that is God's job We need to search God's Word and pray that he would give us the wisdom to know the right response in each situation we face. Then by faith, we must do it."
I think we all know the destructiveness that Satan can cause - if we let him. We have the free will to invite or deny him access to our heart. We must be on the lookout for the enemy for he lurks at all times, planning his next move and ultimately his next attack. I have realized in my own life, and more so just recently, that if I simply blink Satan has bombarded me with lies, deceit, and wrongful thinking. If my guard is let down at all, he attacks. That is why I must reiterate, "keep your friends close, and push your enemies far." Satan can't hurt you if you don't let him. If he has gotten ahold of your spouse that does not necessarily mean he has gotten ahold of you too. In those difficult and trying times, remember Satan is your enemy, not your spouse. Your spouse is God's special gift to you. He or she was handpicked especially for you. That does not mean that that person will not make bad choices, say mean things, act inappropriately, or even inflict pain. I know I have toward my husband on more than one occasion. What it is saying is that we must be held accountable for our actions aside from and separate from our spouse.
I'm sure you remember the old saying "two wrongs don't make a right." There is something to be said about that. Because an individual may have wronged you or hurt you, I highly encourage you to turn your face to Christ. Do as He did. Turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute you. It is not an easy task especially when we are hurt or angry at the ones we love the most. But I challenge you to deny Satan access to your heart but instead let Christ steer you forward. And as for your spouse, well at the end of the day they are accountable for themselves. If I spend too much time worrying about the speck in his eye, I do not have time to concentrate on the plank in my eye.