Life At Its Best: Honor one another's potential
"All you need is love."
Most of you probably recognize this as one of the Beatles' biggest hit songs. It's a phrase that relates to the natural desire each of us have to build lasting relationships of mutual affection. But these relationships are much easier to sing about than they are to establish. After all, the band broke up not long after releasing that song.
I saw first-hand the difficulty of relationships when I worked as a college pastor. One year, I counseled a couple that seemed to constantly be fighting. The guy came from a rough background, and they both had issues to overcome.
As they continued coming to church, their relationship slowly improved. Before long, they decided they were ready for marriage. He excitedly told me the news and asked if I'd do the ceremony.
I didn't think it was a good idea. Despite their progress, they both had a lot of growing to do. I thought they should take time to develop, and then reconsider getting married. But as I prayed about it, God impressed on my heart what I should do. So I told him, "If you promise to stay faithful to a good church all your life, I'll do the wedding." He promised, and months later they were married.
I'd love to say that they had a seamless transition into the married life. But as we all know, that's not usually how it works. This couple faced struggles, but they continued to grow together as they stayed faithful to each other and to God's house.
Today, they continue to keep their promise as the pastors of a thriving church in Indiana. They've been happily married for more than 15 years and are enjoying the benefits of following God's model for marriage.
The same can be true for each of us. We don't have to be perfect to have a great marriage. Which is good news, because if we're honest, we all have some pretty unlovable traits. But when we choose to practice God's principles for marriage, we can experience a fulfilling relationship despite our imperfections.
One principle we must practice is selfless love. This requires putting our own desires aside in order to meet the deepest needs of our spouse. We must take time to truly understand what's important to them. Discover what makes them feel most loved, and be willing to make sacrifices in order to fulfill that need. Practice giving a little more love than you expect to receive.
Secondly, we must honor one another's potential. We all have flaws that create issues we must work through. But we should be careful not to allow those imperfections to steal the joy from our marriage. Instead, we should appreciate and affirm the person they are, while believing in the person they can be.
Learn to enjoy the growth processes, as you encourage one another's potential. When you do, you'll begin building the lifelong love affair both of your hearts desire.
Jim Graff is the Senior Pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. Visit faithfamilyvictoria.com.