No one likes a good project as much as I do. Growing up I didn't play, I built. I built lemonade stands, treehouses, mud pies, forts, and worlds in my imagination.
Heading into marriage the wedding is one big project. There's people to invite, a place to have it, food to prepare for them, and a schedule to keep to. After the cake is cut and the last picture is snapped a couple moves onto their next projects whether they realize it or not. What those projects are will direct the course of your marriage and your life. Equipping yourself with understanding before you go into a project is protecting the future that you really want to have. Project take your time, and the most valuable commodity any person has is not money- it's time.
Projects are good! Projects are healthy! Projects keep us moving forward and learning.
As someone who has been married for 8 years I want to lend my open hand with some wisdom as to what projects to lend yourself to and which ones to steer clear of- VERY CLEAR.
Good projects: goals you set as a couple that bring you closer together towards good things.
For example, to piggy back off my last post, getting out of debt is a fantastic project to do together as a couple. Saving money for a home is a great project. Finding out about who you are through personality tests and proactively learning about one another is a good project. Ask questions of each other. Carve time out in your day to do this. No one else is going to learn about your spouse for you. And if they are, that might not be a good thing. You have to do it.
Your home is good project. For many, after walking down the aisle of commitment towards another person they also walk down the aisle of commitment to a mortgage and a home. Your home is a constant work in progress. One that I might add is that you may never become satisfied in. I LOVE to decorate. It's a passion of mine to feel good in my home and to have others feel good in my home. But I learned the hard way that a home is so much more than what it looks like. A home is who it is, what it gives back to it's community, and how it glorifies the unseen God in thousands of unseen ways. While developing, planning, creating, and remodeling may be visually satisfying, I can attest to the fact that it is a temporary satisfaction.
Try to think of your home you are creating with your spouse as an unseen home: it is the two of you.
Your physical home may change. Your circumstances may change. Your family life may change. Kids will eventually come and go through it. But one thing is important to hold onto- who you are and your spouse. You can't leave yourself, and you do not want to change out your spouse. No one goes into marriage thinking "I want this to end one day". No! We have all the best intentions to do things well and with love. But intention does not lead to reality. Discipline and a mind set built on love behind that discipline leads to your reality.
Value your spouse above all other earthly things: this means the projects, this means the home, this means the bank account, this means the jobs. We all love the part in The Office where Jim values Pam over his job. He made the right choice. A couple that goes "further, faster" but while drifting from each other has gone no where at all. Do not think for a moment that by valuing a thing or an idea of happiness over a person you are committed to is ever a good choice worth lending yourself and your future to.
THE PROJECT MINDSET
Be gracious to one another. You are on the same team. A win for one spouse is a win for the other spouse. A loss for one is a loss for both. One of my favorite verses is "Love covers a multitude of sins." What this breaks down to is this... Is it loving to air out someone's mistakes?? Would you want your worst choices to be shouted out from the rooftops? If you made one good choice in your day, and 20 bad choices which would you rather remember and build on? The one good choice you made. The 20 bad choices are for you to think over and not do again, and for your spouse to not remind you of. This overflows to our parenting, so your spouse is a great place to start practicing this idea. Cover their short-comings. If he drops the socks behind the door and it drives you nuts, love does not gripe and complain. Love picks up the socks. Love learns to not care that the socks are behind the door. Love offers a solution to the partner with grace.
Work on YOURSELF, not your spouse. Bottom line is we can't control another living human being. People try, it's called manipulation. Say no to manipulation. Even playful agreed upon manipulation. "I'll do this, if you do that." It's bad. It will leave you frustrated and miserable. The only thing you can control is yourself. We are so very good at seeing all of the things our spouse can't see about themselves. We are with them all the time! Our own short comings we are often blind to or excuse. Stop excusing yourself, and excuse the other person. Do not allow someone's areas of weakness to become an area of your anger. It needs to be an area of your compassion and love.
"Love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8
Love examples within themselves the appropriate behavior. Love has boundaries. Love protects people. Love can say no. Love can say yes. Love forgives. Love provides. Love gives good gifts. Love keeps going in hope. Love prays.
"It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
The only way to have love is to know love itself.
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them." 1 John 4:16
If you've hung out with yourself for any length of time you should know that your tendency is towards your own self preservation. This is a good thing! No one wants to be hurt. The problem that occurs within this is when we do all the wrong things to preserve ourselves. We use tools like selfishness, anger, unforgiveness, distancing, and hate to guard ourselves from harm. Even if we say we have love, but there is someone that we can think of that we hate, we're missing love. Love leads you to understanding and compassion for all people.
I fall short in loving all the time. I "lack understanding" in the right way to love on a daily basis.
Understanding the gospel changes everything. If you are not a person of faith, please stick with me for a second. The gospel can bring up all sorts of baggage for you and I want to understand that. It can make you think of a church you were hurt at or a "Christian" who was unloving. Understanding the pure form of the gospel is where it all rides, which in essence is this: God loves us. No matter what you feel, or what life has brought you, God loves you. It is truth. It is a truth you should want to be right. You begin to feel peace under once you believe it. It is founded in actions throughout all of human history. God showed his love for the world through Noah, and Abraham, and the Nation of Israel and His Son Jesus. God took all of our short-comings and the wrong doings we have done towards one another and satisfied the retribution needed for them through Jesus dying on a cross some 2,000 years ago. Justice was served. A punishment was given. Love overcomes all. Jesus rose again triumphing over our eternal/soul separation from Himself, God and His Spirit. If His actions seem unloving, look closer. Ask, seek, and knock. He reveals Himself to the one who diligently seek Him. He is good, kind, compassionate. The sooner I started believing He was good, the sooner I got to enjoy His goodness as an active participant. I was invited to let go of being an angry victim of my foolishness.
Love fixed on the vertical plan of your life between you and your understanding of God will lead to a love poured out on the horizontal plan of your life between you, those closest to you, and everyone else.
THE PROJECT INVITATION
We all have been invited into an amazing project. Being made into the image of Christ.
Christ was God's love and personship embodied. Now we, as believer's in His love for us also get to bear an image (or branding if you will) of who God truly is. We become brand ambassadors for Who He truly is. We receive grace upon grace from Him as we fail, and strength to prevail from Him as we succeed.
God is loving.
God is faithful.
God is committed to us.
God values us over all things: the animals and the earth he gave to us to rule over.
God sacrificed Himself for our saving.
Marriage is a unique opportunity to show the love of God in our commitment to one another, our faithfulness, valuing one another over all things, and daily sacrificing ourselves to our spouse.
When you know God will take care of you, you will give yourself more freely to others. You give your time, your energy, and your self. You know proper boundaries and will not let others manipulate you into doing what they think you should do, because you have the truth of God poured out in your hearts. You receive purpose, a plan, and provision for your life.
"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." 2 Peter 1:3-4
I challenge you, if you had questions over anything you've read, write that question down. I know you are an extremely intelligent person who has a lifetime of history that has shaped your viewpoint on everything you think. Questions are good. Ask them. Do not let yourself go without doing yourself the due diligence to know and understand for yourself. Protect yourself from lies and going down a road that will bring harm to you, your spouse, and your future family. You owe it to yourself and no one else will do it for you.