Freedom Of Acceptance

Shelly Foshee

Recently we attended a wedding. Part of the vows repeated were “I promise to do my best to love and accept you exactly as you are”. At first my thought was, “we never want to stay the same. We always want to grow  and become more like Christ.” But as I pondered this, I realized how important this is. I cannot change my husband. Believe me, I have tried. It doesn’t work, in fact it makes matters worse. Coming to this realization has brought freedom to me, to my husband, and to our marriage. When I say come to the realization, I mean truly understand and take hold of this to be true. Live it out, apply it to the way I live my life. 

Differently Created - Jeremiah 1:5

God has created each of us differently, with our own individual purpose, giftings and callings. We both have gone through different trials. We both have different struggles and qualities. Yes, we are called to a certain standard by God. Yes, after we marry our lives intertwine and we may be called to something together. Just like Gray and I are called to marriage ministry. Yet, we have strengths that are different. Gray can be around someone and within just a few minutes know almost every detail of their lives. Gray likes details. I am not a detailed person. Give me the bullet points and I’ll move on. Gray is a penny pincher, I am not. Gray likes being in crowds, I prefer smaller groups. The list goes on and on. Since we have been married for 40 years now, we have developed many likenesses. But our differences are still there.

Acceptance - Romans 15:7

Learning to accept these differences has not always been easy. But as we have matured and grown in the Lord, we have learned that there is value in our differences.(Proverbs 27:17) I remember a day when I felt like Gray keeping such a tight budget, was him trying to control me. Today, I see the wisdom in it. I am thankful that he has this quality, because we would not be where we are today if he had not been. On the other hand, he has learned to loosen the reins a little and enjoy the blessings provided along the way. 

If Gray and I were exactly alike, what a boring life it would be. Honestly, why would we even want to be together? Why would we need each other, if we both had the same strengths and weaknesses. If Gray were just like me, we would be in financial duress right now. Maybe living on the streets!

Expectations - Psalm 62:5-8

Many times we place expectations on each other that can never be met. This sets our partner up to fail, which means we both fail. I recently found myself in this situation. Gray is such a gentleman and is always trying to find ways to honor me. He consistently opens the door for me, whether at a home, a restaurant or car. He does this 90% of the time. One time, when he didn’t do it, I felt my stomach tighten and my jaw clench. I asked myself why I felt this? I was upset with him because he didn’t open the door. I knew that we were in a hurry to make an appointment and it had slipped his mind. I expected him to do this, because he usually did it. Then got angry with him when he didn’t (which rarely happens). I gave him very little grace and placed expectations on him that were nearly impossible. At this moment, I realized what I was doing and released it. How much happier we both were. I know that I want grace when I need it, so why shouldn’t I give him grace when he needs it? The scripture says that our expectation should be on Christ alone. 

Living in Freedom - Galatians 5:1

God created each of us differently. There is not one of us that has matching fingerprints. There is purpose in everything that God does.(Ecclesiastes 3:1) Where one is weak, the other can be strong. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)  Where one is limited, the other has an abundance. This allows us as husband and wife to live out this beautiful picture of Christ’s love for His bride. He accepts us as we are, not leaving us there, but through kindness (Romans 2:4) showing us the path to be more like Him. What is also beautiful is that when we follow His lead we walk into a freedom that we never knew existed. 

Each of us has room for growth. Each of us needs grace where we are weak. Neither of us can change who the other is. Yet, when we learn this, our marriages grow and blossom into a thing of beauty that reflects His image here on earth and giving us the freedom to be who He created us to be.

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