BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU THINK!
(It can make or break your marriage)
I got married on May 5th of 1979. I was absolutely thrilled to begin my new life with Kathy. She was everything I could have hoped for. Jesus was everything in her life, Jesus was everything in my life, and I just knew we had a marriage made in heaven, specially created for us, by God!
Having very little money to speak of, Kathy and I went on a short honeymoon to a place called Devil’s Lake! With a name like that, we probably should have avoided that spot! I am joking, sort of. However, our honeymoon was not what I had imagined. Tensions arose, things were said, it just did not go very well.
As the days and weeks began to unfold, soon my wife was expecting our first child. We were thrilled, ecstatic, and so excited to be new parents, and have a little child. Once again though, things were not going as I naively expected they would go. Kathy had bad morning sickness and I had no idea what it would be like to live with a pregnant wife, with all the adjustments that would need to be made, and all the inconveniences it would bring to our relationship. Little by little as months went by and time passed, I began to let some very negative, critical thoughts grow in my mind regarding my marriage and towards my precious wife.
There were some things that were really starting to bug me. I found myself headed off to work in the morning, as I walked to the car and drove to work, with some really snarky, unkind, negative things running through my head about Kathy. I began to notice a growing emotional wall between us, and in my heart and mind, I was blaming her. I found myself thinking obsessively about what I considered to be her faults and her mistakes.
As I did this, I found myself in more and more inner turmoil. I found myself grumpy, discontent, angry, easily frustrated, and feeling emotionally distant from her. All the while I was still trying to pray, read my bible and become a good husband and father.
I had a job at the time that was a sales route, selling auto parts to repair shops in the country that afforded me a little flexibility in my day. Each day there was a park that I would go to, to read my Bible and pray for the many things that were on my mind. I prayed for the great concerns I had, for my work, for the great challenges I faced, and to ask for God’s help, God’s blessing, and God’s wisdom.
On one particular day, I left home especially agitated and vexed in spirit by things I felt were unfair and bothersome in my marriage. I will never forget this. Even now it is just like yesterday to me. I was sitting in my old, brown AMC Hornet wagon that I had paid $750 bucks for!! I had parked behind some trees way in the back of the park and begun to read my New Testament. I had opened my bible to the book of Philippians 4:8.
The words jumped off the page:
“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is good, whatever is right, whatever is lovely whatever is pure, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.”
And the next verse: “PUT THIS INTO PRACTICE and the God of peace will be with you.”
I kid you not when I say this, I began to weep there in my car. God hit me so hard in the heart that I became devastatingly aware of how I had been violating those very truths and commands of God in my own marriage, and in my relationship with Kathy.
IN FACT, I WAS DOING THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF WHAT THIS VERSE SAID TO DO.
As if Jesus was right next to me in that old Hornet, He spoke to me saying, “Mark, how do you expect to feel close to Kathy, how do you expect to feel good about your marriage, when all you let dominate your thoughts are the negative, critical things that bother you about her? I sat there actually deeply aware and deeply ashamed. My goodness, no wonder I had no peace of heart about my marriage as I had deliberately allowed slander to flow and grow in my mind about her.
All of a sudden Jesus brought another verse right to my mind. Proverbs 16:28 says that slander separates intimate friends! No wonder I was feeling distant from Kathy, and so discontent. I had been slandering her to myself in my own thoughts on a regular basis. I had not been obeying God’s truth at all by fixing my thoughts on what was good about Kathy, what was lovely about Kathy, what was praiseworthy about Kathy, what was excellent about Kathy, and what was admirable about Kathy.
I was shocked at what God revealed to me about my own mind and heart, and how this violation of truth was wreaking havoc on my feelings, my emotions, and my attitudes towards this precious woman, who I once so firmly believed was a gift from God himself!! In fact, I had begun to believe my marriage from heaven felt more like a marriage from hell!
It hit me like a ton of bricks, my love for her was growing cold, my heart was becoming very hard towards Kathy. This scared me very badly!
As I sat in my car crying, acknowledging these things to God, thanking Him for showing me this, and asking Him to change me starting right now, I took out a piece of paper. I said to myself, “Lord, I am going to sit here until I can think of 5 good things about Kathy to write down.” I am ashamed to admit this, but it took me a while. Too long actually. I became aware in that moment, that I could have easily, in a matter of minutes, written down a list of things about her that really bothered me, things that were not lovely, or good, or excellent, or praiseworthy or admirable in my eyes.
I made a determination and a decision that day to be absolutely intentional about what I thought about Kathy, rather than thinking about just what my feelings told me to think. I determined that I would change this habit in my life from that day forward.I determined to live by this verse. From that day forward I took time every single day to thank God for specific things about Kathy that fit the description of that verse in Phil. 4:8. It was not easy for me at first. I had sown so many negative, critical thoughts, that I had to work over my mind, and my heart to see what was so good about her, what was so lovely, what was so right, what was so praiseworthy, so admirable, and so excellent.As I prayed, day after day, and made a list of some of these to remind myself, I began to experience a real, genuine change in how I felt emotionally about my precious wife and our marriage. As I did this from a sincere heart, thanking God out loud in prayer for the list of these things in Kathy’s life, her personality, her temperament, her character and many other things as well, I was amazed. I began to see and feel how rich and blessed I really was to be married to this woman.
It was not long before I sincerely and genuinely felt I was the luckiest man in the world. In fact, I still feel that today, even more, as I have continued this habit for the last 36 years of our married life.
You could not convince me today that I did not get the best deal in the world, having Kathy as my wife. I AM SO BLESSED AND RICH TO HAVE HER.
For years now, I have felt very good about my marriage. Not because my wife is perfect, but because I have intentionally thought about what is good and lovely and praiseworthy about Kathy, and those thoughts have affected how I feel!
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU THINK! WHAT YOU SOW, GROWS!
Helping you become a strong disciple,
Because of Jesus,