Monday, April 19, 2010

Marriage Mondays ~ Built Up by Mercy

Last Friday night we had "One Night to BUILD" in our series of marriage encouragement events that Jeff and I do together. We focused on how our daily choice to build up or tear down our spouse impacts our overall marriage and our overall house. Every time we have a One Night, God gives the two of us opportunity to practice the quality in our own marriage before we teach the topic to others, and this time was no exception.

March was more than busy for us, with big events in both of our areas of ministry, including two successive weekends of women's retreats for me. I got online to make a flight reservation for a retreat the weekend after our own women's retreat in TN. I sent the itinerary to the team in Ohio and to my hubby, and I made a copy and put it in a file for myself. The day before I was scheduled to fly out, I got online to confirm my flight and saw there was "no reservation" showing for me. Certain there was a mistake, I called the airline to clear things up. They confirmed I did NOT have a flight, because the flight was OVER and had actually been made for the weekend before............................................

It was a HORRIBLE moment of realization as I discovered I had made the flight for the week before, the week PAST. I explained. I apologized. I begged. I spoke to a supervisor. I wrote down info to send in an appeal, but the reality was it would be $900 for a new ticket, and the church had already reimbursed my original flight. I couldn't afford a 2nd flight, and I was sick over the potential total loss of the 1st. I sat still for what seemed like a long time, and I sat speechless in prayer. Then I picked up the phone to call Jeff and confess my mess. I asked him if he was alone and was sitting down...

I told him what I did and waited for him to confirm what I already thought: It was the stupidest thing anyone could do. It was irresponsible. It was scatterbrained. It was unbelievable. It was going to be so inconvenient to fix. It was going to cost us $. I had made a mess. But he didn't. I said I would have to drive the 8 hrs. myself to make it to the retreat. He told me to calm down and he would call me back.

A few minutes later he called back to remind it was his day off the next day, and he would drive me. I began to give the "But what about..." questions; he had already made calls for someone to stay with our daughter, someone to take care of the dog, someone to cover his class, the need to miss a meeting ... He had made all those changes to accomodate my mess, though I didn't deserve it.

The next morning Jeff and Jacob carried my things, packed the car, and prayed about our time together. We got Jo off to school and then drove all day to the retreat. I watched the time, occasionally mentioning when I would've been boarding, unloading, having lunch ... Jeff never took a verbal shot at me or said any of what I felt I had coming. Jacob watched and listened as his dad served me with such understanding, gladness, and kindness. I arrived on time at the retreat in the beautiful hotel, and my guys went to have a father/son night in a cheap hotel. When the retreat was over, they were there to carry my things and celebrate God's movement with me and hear all about it and drive back home. It began with a single CHOICE that impacted a single SPOUSE that steered our MARRIAGE that built our HOUSE.

Proverbs 18:21

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Life offers daily opportunities, some ordinary and some extraordinary, to build up or tear down our mate, to sow life or death into our marriages. One man at our church who has done a lot of building spoke from experience when he said that to tear something down, you have to hit the load bearing walls. Jeff could've "hit my load bearing walls" that day, and he could've done a lot of damage, but he chose, instead, to build me up and shore up my weak spots and fragile pieces. He made a huge deposit into my life that caused me to want to love him more in return. His response enabled me to go on to the retreat with a full heart and confidence in God's ways to share with the women. Jeff and I have not always made the choice to build each other up, but when we've failed, we've been sure that every day would bring another choice to build up our spouse to create a strong marriage and to have a godly house.

When we exercise undeserved mercy to our spouse, we are acting in the way Jesus would act, giving love and paying the price to cover for the failings of those we love. When we build up where we could "legitimately" tear down, we are being like Jesus to each other.

I know your life's circumstances, like mine, will offer you an opportunity today to build up or tear down your spouse with your words, your facial expressions, your touches, or your decisions. Let's BUILD UP godly homes through one loving choice at a time.

Next week on Marriage Monday I hope you'll join me to hear from two blogging men in their own words, as they share what builds up a man. And BTW, USAir accepted my appeal and is allowing me a year to use my ticket. ;) I consider that God mercifully building me up. And the more I see God's mercy to me, the more I want to show it to my husband and those around me. How about you?

Feel free to link a marriage related post below or use the new (including web address) button above, but please mention MM in your post and leave a little comment love. Blessings to you on this Marriage Monday!

10 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Melanie said...

Julie, this post brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful picture of love.
And ... I have done the exact same thing - and will share my story on a future post!

Looking forward to hearing from those guys...melanie

Warren Baldwin said...

Great story! Sounds like you all handled the situation so well. That's what makes for a stable home - not going to pieces, not being full of regret, not dumping unnecessary guilt or shame on the partner, but just saying, "Ok, here is the situation, what do we do now?" Then do it. Great lesson for your son to observe.

Theresa said...

Wow Julie, our entries for today go hand in hand - building up or tearing down by either reacting or responding.

Thank you for sharing and hosting.

Chaos Cottage said...

Loved that story, Julie. I am sorry I missed One Night. Really wanted to be there. We are always blessed when we get to go.

You are truly blessed with Jeff and both of you are a blessing to me.


Traci Michele said...

Tear filled eyes here too! Lovely testimony! :-)

Thank you!

Kristi Stephens said...

Love this - and know that Jeff's choice not only built into your life and Jacob's life, but also into the lives of each woman who was blessed by what you shared at our retreat. God was truly glorified!

And what a BLESSING that they accepted your appeal!! Praise the Lord!! :)

Teri Lynne Underwood said...

Julie, what a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. My own Scott is that sort of person ... never saying a cross or demeaning word to me. In fact, of all my mess ups, mistakes, and blunders, I cannot think of one example when he was anything less than kind and helpful. (If only my testimony was the same.)

Warren Baldwin said...

Thank you Theresa for the heads-up about the link, and to Julie for fixing it.

D and A said...

What a great idea for this meme! What a blessing your posts are too. I am so glad that I stopped by and will be adding you to my bloglines.

Thanks for stopping by my blog as well.

Faith Imagined said...

This is such a wonderful example of deciding to build up instead of tear down. Kuddos to your husband for being such a great role model! It is so easy to let emotions get the best of us and let the negative words fly! Thanks for encouraging us to make better choices in our marriages.