I don’t know about you, but I converse with myself daily. Oftentimes these conversations are me arguing with myself after conflict in my marriage. Take for example the other day. I was in the kitchen and Gio (my husband) walked in and said “How can I help you?” I had just been scrolling through Instagram that morning and saw a reel saying how your husband should be “better” than just “helping” you. He should see what needs to be done and do it! With that thought in mind, my response was “Are you kidding me?” I had invited external influence to cause conflict in my marriage.
In the aftermath of this conflict with my spouse, it sounded a little like this in my head:
Me: Do you think you may have overreacted?
Also Me: Absolutely not!
Me: Maybe you should go and apologize?
Also Me: And let him think it’s okay to get away with that?
Me: Well, I mean all he did was offer to help.
Also Me: Offer to help? When he sees all the work that needs to be done?! He should just step in and do it!
Me: Yes … but he knows you like things done a certain way so I’m pretty sure he was just wanting to respect your wishes.
It’s at this point where I begin to take a look in the mirror and not like what I see. It’s also at this point where I begin to feel the need to initiate an apology but, in all honesty, I just don’t want to. I now have a choice. I can choose to dig in my heels and “stand my ground” or I can choose to give up. And by “give up” I mean give up my desire to win and yield to the power of the Holy Spirit. You see, it’s important that I remember the still small voice in my head is not my conscience but instead it is the Holy Spirit.
The Need to “Win”
For some reason, and I’m assuming it’s my sin nature, I am drawn to winning. And when I say drawn, I mean I HAVE to win at all costs. It’s no fun to be on the losing side. Even in the smallest interactions in my marriage, I like to be right. However, Paul calls us to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 ESV
This does not fit well with my selfish narrative. It is, however, how God calls me to frame my thoughts. Especially my thoughts toward my spouse. I’m called to show preference to my spouse; to humble myself and count them as more significant. Again, this doesn’t align with my fleshly need to be right. However, when I try to “win” in conflict with my spouse (which is way overrated in marriage, btw), we both end up losing. We have to remember we’re on the same team. "Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right."-Ezra T. Benson. And what is right is that your interactions with your spouse reflect the image of God. This is the humility Paul’s talking about.
“Just two choices on the shelf - pleasing God or pleasing self” - Ken Collier. It really is, at this point, a matter of which choice I’m going to make.
Let’s look back at the conversation I was having with myself. If I listen to my selfish nature (and too often this is exactly what I do) my interaction with Gio is filled with frustration. My mind begins to repeat back to me all the times I perceived that he failed me. All the things he didn’t do when I asked him to. And if I’m not careful, Satan starts to slip a few things in there that are just flat out lies. I’m at the end of my rope and my response is one of frustration and exasperation. I can now assure you that the offer to help has been rescinded and in its place is a puzzled husband who has no idea why I’m frustrated! That’s where the cycle of pleasing self usually lands me!
However, if I choose to listen to and acknowledge that still, small voice, the Holy Spirit, I begin to practice Galatians 5:16 – “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” So let’s do a little rewind. Let’s back the conversation up to the offer to help. If I’m walking by the Spirit and I’m seeking to be a peacemaker in my home, even though those initial thoughts may have run through my mind, I apply 2 Corinthians 10:5 “and take every thought captive to obey Christ”. Now I am prepared to respond, in a pleasant voice, that I would love and appreciate his help. As small as this example may seem, I believe it is a series of these small interactions and choosing to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit that lead us to oneness in our marriage.
It’s a Discipline
In actuality, making the right choice in the moment starts way before the moment arrives. Walking in the Spirit daily is a discipline that will set you up for success at the crossroads you’re inevitably going to come to (probably daily).
Here are some tools to help you walk in and yield to the Spirit:
- Don’t allow the business of life to take precedence over your time with the Lord. It’s the most important thing you’ll do all day, make it a priority.
- Filter the content you expose yourself to. A lot of social media seems harmless, but is not pointing you towards Christ. (Example: the story at the beginning of this blog)
- If you want to see change, you have to be willing to change. You can only control what you do, so the next time you find yourself at the crossroads, make the decision now that you’re going to pause and pray before reacting so you can yield to the Holy Spirit.
- The more you yield to the Holy Spirit and see the benefits that come with it, you’ll be further motivated to make that choice. It’s like a muscle. The more you exercise it the stronger it gets.