Tag Archive: strengthen

if you are a single person, then embrace that, completely. hope to be married if that is your dream, but be absolutely content with where you are and living in it, til the opportunity arises. don’t live where you’re not.

if you are a married person, then embrace that, completely. be content with what you have, while always striving for more. if you are not constantly working at your marriage, then you may soon discover the rut beckoning. in any relationship, the rut is a terrible thing.

ever since the beautiful val and i got married, God has put relationships [and especially marriage] strongly on my heart as something to pour into, not only for us, but others as well… so i asked a bunch of my married friends [who i think are married well] for one or two things that they see as vital/helpful to having a good marriage.

Their thoughts and comments are linked to below, but i recently also stumbled upon this blog which gives a great sense of understanding in terms of the expectation we are encouraged to have our whole lives of meeting “the right person” who probably doesn’t exist in the form we imagine them:

How I know my wife married the “Wrong” person, by Tyler McKenzie

And then here are the rest of the nuggets of gold gleaned over a variety of years and experiences:

Dave Gale [married 22 years]: featuring communication, give and take

Mal Taylor: featuring teamwork, space and differences

Ewald Witthoft [married 6 years]: featuring clearing up issues, past disagreements and using ‘we’ language

Bronwyn Duffield Witthoft [married 6 years]: featuring unique perspective and calm discussion

Lisa Pieterse: featuring praying together, listening vs interruption and contact

Richard ‘Snoek’ Leonard: featuring humility, a surrendered heart, and a 1 Corinthians 13 Love

Rob Lloyd [married for seven years]: featuring little ways

Debbie Knighton-Fitt [married for 6 years]: featuring togetherness and selflessness

Rob Murray [married for 9 years]: featuring escape hatches, holiness vs happiness, and leading

an anonymous friend [married for 31 years]: featuring respect, united fronts and budgeting

Carolyn Hugo Misdorp [married 12 years]: featuring personal relationship with God, short accounts and gratitude

Michelle and Frans van Eeden [who i got to marry – 2 years ago]: featuring comparing, patience and making mistakes

Lauren McGill [married for 7 years]: featuring vulnerability

Daniel Ornellis [married for 13 years]: featuring disappointments and sacrifice

Susan Minne [my older sister, married for 21 years]: featuring the blame game

Rachel T Moore [married for 3 years]: featuring diffusing, actively pursuing joy and prayer

Clint Botha [married for 7 years]: featuring Jesus, laughing, quick forgiveness and clean fighting

Bev Le Roux Brodrick [married for 7 years]: featuring expectations, inconvenient love and survival

this is a long psalm, with much stuff in it, but i am just going to focus on one or two things:

‘He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.’ [vs 34]

when i was young, in a galaxy far far away, there was a song we used to sing that went like this:

‘it is God who trains my hands for battle, my arms can bend a bow of bronze

it is God who trains my hands for battle, my arms can bend a bow of bronze

He gives me a shield of victory, my enemies fall at my feet

praise be to my Rock, He is the Lord of hosts.’

it was a round song which were always fun so while one group sings that verse, the rest of the group sing the dragged out, ‘the Loooooooord of hooooooosts gives viiiiiiii-ctooooo-ryyyyyyy’ repeatedly and then joined together on the last line and it was a lot of energy enthused fun.

it is tough to get excited about a violence-related metaphor while living in a non-violence focused community but i can still take something out of this piece:

the psalm begins with the line, ‘I love you, LORD, my strength.’

the reminder that God is our strength… and that my arms have the capability of bending bows of bronze because He has trained me to do so… a lot of people pray that God will take bad things away from us and I don’t know that that is the route He always chooses to go or even maybe often chooses to go… but as in Psalm 23 where it says, ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley,  I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’ [vs.4] or Psalm 34 where it says, ‘The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ‘ [vs.18]

so it is not so much that God is removing danger or hardship or obstacle, but rather that He is empowering the person in the situation or accompanying them through whatever it is that they are facing, and that is how i have experienced God more often than not. the bonus on the other side is that, having gone through the tough time you emerge stronger, whereas if God simply removes the problem, you have learnt nothing and not grown at all.

This is echoed in verse 29, ‘With Your help I can advance against a troop, with my God I can scale a wall.’

and in fact, that is where i will leave it – encouragement that when things are hard/crazy/impossible/frustrating/painful that God is close and that He often does not simply remove those things in our life, but rather uses them to give a reason to strengthen us and provide for us and work with us and in us so that we might be strengthened and encouraged and built up so that the next time we are facing a similar thing we will be able to handle it even better, and also so that through us getting stronger we can assist those around us who may not have prevailed through the things we have, which helps build and grow community.

another day, some more challenging and insightful advice on how to build a strong marriage relationship by my friend Lauren McGill:

I think the thing that makes my marriage more special than any other relationship in my life is the vulnerability.

I remember in our first few years of marriage, sharing something that had been eating away at me with j. I was so broken and ashamed, really believing after he had seen this ugliness he would walk away. When eventually I managed to look up at him, he was crying too. He was crying for my hurt.

Over the years time and again j has shown me he loves me in spite of all my (many!) flaws and he is always, always on my side. He never uses my vulnerability against me and always sticks up for me- even when I’m wrong (in private he will tell me off hehe). As a result I feel fully loved, fully known, fully supported. I’m accepted for just being plain old…me. I guess that, and, he makes me laugh- a lot 🙂

[married for 6 years]

to continue to the next part of this series click here…

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