Lately, I have been praying about the truth or nakedness that is necessary in a marriage. Yes, I have seen some recent online video interviews (LOL) but I have also been asked to pray for various people, including their marriage. Being a part of a prayer ministry that happens a lot; although I would get those requests regardless if I were a part of the prayer ministry or not. Even amid praying for my own marriage, God kept having me go back to the verses about how the man should love his wife as Christ loves the church and how the wife should submit to her husband as to the Lord (Read Ephesians 5: 22-26). God had to remind me most couples only brush the surface of what that means and have a tough time handling the nakedness of marriage.
The marriage vows help to acknowledge the sacred covenant that is between husband and wife. There are specific teachings in the Bible that gives each spouse specific directions on how to ensure their marriage can remain stable through the good and bad. When I thought about the above-mentioned verses from the Bible, I recognized how serious these were. Jesus Christ loves the church unconditionally. Despite every sin committed. Despite any outside flaws or what society may consider as unattractive in appearance. Even when we are fully naked, Jesus Christ still does not forsake us. In fact, He cloth us, feeds us, protects us, prays for us, and so much more. There is no room to doubt or suspensions on Jesus Christ’s love. There is a trust and even a divine jealously that allows for a strong level of security in mind, body, and spirit. To parallel this to a marriage: the wife should have an appropriate level of confidence that despite her flaws and sins, her husband will love her unconditionally. Just like we must come before Him with our nakedness, wives need to feel safe in going to their husbands in their nakedness. A wife needs to feel a keen sense of trust for her to do that. That keen sense is connected to the same depth of unconditional love, so it goes both ways.
Now, we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ because He can love us unconditionally. A wife will find it exceedingly difficult to submit herself (or to love unconditionally) to her husband who is constantly judging, playing ‘tit-for-tat’, keep record of all sins, and mistakes. Unlike Jesus Christ who makes no mistakes, we will because we are human. That is why marriage is often considered the example of the relationship between Christ and the church: because we are not perfect but in a real relationship, the love should be unconditional. Marriage should be built on unconditional love. Not built on what ‘marriage looks good’ or ‘marriage is the ultimate relationship goal’.
I have said this multiple times: Being a wife is a calling. I also believe being a husband is a calling. It is not to say that certain people are incapable of loving unconditionally or submitting to their spouse. It takes a different level of spiritual maturity to endure marriage. This is what I recently felt God was trying to get me to understand about marriage: when marriage first was establish, Adam and Eve were naked. Nothing was hidden. No shame. No guilt. No regrets. That is what makes a marriage sacred. Many spouses are still trying to hide because of their mistakes. Many spouses are still trying to wear multiple masks because they are pretending to be somebody else, for their spouse and the world. Many spouses are unwilling to mature while naked to help establish an even stronger bond in their marriage. Even Adam and Eve matured while they were naked because they helped each other further the growth of the garden; even before the fall. When both spouses grow in spiritual maturity, while fully naked, they are exemplifying the kind of relationship we should have with God. It is only when we start to put on masks, hide, and covering up our sins is when our growth is stunted. When growth is stunted, nothing but trouble is bound to happen.
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Question: If married, can you handle the ‘nakedness’ necessary for a stable marriage? If not, why? Are you willing to grow in spiritual maturity to handle the nakedness? Leave your comment below.
I have heard the title and phrase, "Marriage is not for punks." When we consider the spiritual significance of marriage, it is obvious that war is inevitable. The Bible speaks about spiritual warfare and even offers how to properly fight and equipment yourself for war. As a Christian, I strive to have on my "full armor" of God and I strive to remember I am not at war against the flesh or actual people but against demonic spirits and principalities in high places. However, I have recognized that being spiritually strong is not always enough -- especially in marriage.
I believe in mind, body, and spirit. I believe God created us this way in order to properly survive while here on earth. This is why I believe it takes mental and physical strength to help overcome marital hardships. Do not misinterpret the 'physical strength' as physically fighting with slaps, punches, kicks, etc. That is physical abuse and in that situation the only solution is to get help immediately and safely in order to survive. The physical strength I am referring to is maintaining proper health while under stress. Marital hardships are stressful! Stress can cause headaches, loss of appetite, poor concentration, and more. Your physical strength is important and is needed in order to adequately get through the hardship. Marriage is supposed to be about unconditional love. If we are too weak or cannot think clearly most of the time, we will end up not being able to focus on how to love unconditionally. The other strength that is necessary is mental. I personally feel this is the biggest one to maintain! Not overthinking while yet thinking rationally. If you already deal with mental health issues, it can be even worst when having to deal with marital hardships.
I am not sharing because my marriage has always been perfect. The truth is: it is not perfect right now. It has issues and we (individually) have issues. The great news is we are working on them and sharing with each other about working on those issues. But it took time -- A LONG TIME -- to get to this season. When marriage is tough, it takes both husband and wife to admit it is. Both must see the marriage has hit a major hardship. Both must be willing to work on the issues and be willing to agree that at some point those issues will be resolved. You might consider the various issues the battles and if you both can win at the battles then the war will not seem so intense at times. Because the butt-naked truth is: the war will never stop. Not until God says it is time for the new heaven and earth or until one of you reaches the 'death due us part'.
This is why I believe having spiritual strength is not enough. Get your mental health checked! If you need to see a counselor or therapist, see one. If that means getting on special medicines for while, then do it. BUT...make sure it is just temporary unless a medical professional says otherwise. Some mental health issues do not require lifelong dependence on medicines so strive to overcome certain mental health struggles with natural remedies. This mental health check is for man and woman! Men should not be ashamed to talk to a professional about mental health issues. It will not make the man less masculine or weaker. It will actually do the opposite! Even when the man recognizes he has some mental health issues, that can begin the process of progress towards healing and better strength. With the body or physical, it may require some professional help too. Get hormone levels check. Do a sleep study. You never know some of the battles may be triggered by something that can be fixed with a good night sleep or balanced hormones.
In marriage, one spouse cannot be whole without the other. You are still an individual who possess their own unique qualities and strengths. However, that full power or force in a marriage is only achievable when both are truly one! When marriage gets tough, it takes the mind, body, and spirit to be strong in order to win!
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Question: If you are married, how are you staying strong mentally, physically, and spiritually?
I would like to offer my personal definition of divine or unconditional love. I am no relationship expert. I do have experience with various relationships in my life. The idea of divine or unconditional love is broad and is not isolated to just a marital relationship. I hope that by offering some insight and wisdom I will help others appreciate and apply unconditional love to their relationships; as I strive to do the same.
I use divine interchangeably with unconditional because according to 1 John 4:8, God is love. God is divine. Also, God loves unconditionally; according to Romans 2: 11 He does not show favoritism despite our sinful nature. This is why I use those words interchangeably. When I consider what divine or unconditional love means, I look to God's character. I look at Jesus Christ's examples of how he treated people. So, unconditional love is loving beyond common or human comprehension. Sometimes we are not supposed to understand why we love or should care. We just should. Jesus Christ taught the disciples on a number of occasions to care and love unconditionally despite what they were originally taught. We often respond to people based on what we were taught or even what we may have experienced. Then we try to rationalize with our finite minds on why we cannot love unconditionally. We try to be the intellectual or superior one who believes they ought to understand everything. However, to live this life without major stress and mental breakdowns, it is better to embrace unconditional love without trying to make it make sense.
I have been hurt by people. I have had to deal with my own hate and demons. I have had to overcome a lot of emotions where I had so many conditions on loving someone. Then I experienced some breaking points in my life that helped me learn more about unconditional love. One of those breaking points was when our daughter was stillborn at 38.5 weeks in 2013. Some may wonder how was that a breaking point to learn about unconditional love. It was the breaking point to love myself unconditionally. I was that child with low self-esteem issues. I was that teenager who often felt out of place. I was that young adult who did not know much about how to love myself unconditionally. I had deep roots in guilt, shame, and more. When our daughter was stillborn, all those emotions came back. I had moments where I felt like the little girl who was embarrassed about her dark skin color. I had other moments where I felt ashamed like I did when I had to hide the fact I was sexually active at a young age. Then by 2018, I learned how to love myself unconditionally. My other breaking point was in 2018 when I was forced to look myself in the mirror; God forced me when I decided to dig deep into the Word of God. I actually took some seminary classes and discovered the true character of God. I cried so much that year but it was the renewal and release that I needed because I needed to learn how to love unconditionally. Divine Love!
We are required to hate sin. Hate is a strong word. However, hate seems to meet up with repentance. Because once you hate something, you often change direction in order to avoid that which you hate. That's repentance. You change direction; you turn from sin to God. Hate is not supposed to be negative if it's applied correctly. I had to hate the low self-esteem in order to turn to positive self-confidence. I had to hate fornication in order to turn to appreciate how sacred sexuality was. I had to understand the purposes of hate in order to love unconditionally. I was fighting (or hating) against flesh when the real fight is against demonic principalities. So even in relationships, e.g. friends, marriage, co-worker, etc., you can love unconditionally with treating the other person respectfully and with genuine care while hating the sin -- which you should be fighting against by praying for that stronghold of sin to break off that person. Showing unconditional love is more than saying, "I love you despite of...". You show it by respecting the person, hugging them, sit and talk with them, feed them if they're hungry, cloth them if they're naked, genuinely smile at them, and more. And as you are doing that, you pray for them because that is one of the strongest weapons we have against demonic principalities.
Divine love -- unconditional love! It is possible to practice this daily. I say daily because I still mess up and find myself not loving unconditionally. Then I remember that each day is new grace and new mercy which allows me the opportunity to show divine love once again! And so can you!
I realize some people have a difficult time believing that unconditional love is possible. That is my point of this post: with all the hate and the acceptance of this hate in the world, we are have become numb to the slightest possibility that unconditional love can happen. I believe that is the only way racism - or hate - can be conquered.
Let me express what I believe unconditional love involves. Sure it is everything the Bible says about love, e.g. love is patient, love is kind, God is love, etc. You can find a definition of love in popular dictionaries around the world. However, I believe unconditional love goes beyond what is commonly comprehensive. Everyone strive to gain knowledge, to be the smartest, the wisest. I have come to learn that those achievements do not matter if unconditional love is not the top priority. Once you obtain knowledge, you have to know how to apply that knowledge to help others. In order to successfully help others, you need to provide unconditional love. For example, a patient does not rate their doctor as a great doctor unless they have felt loved unconditionally. The doctor has have the best college degree, conducted seminars around the world, and more. But a doctor who loves unconditionally is more successful than one who does not. When the patient go in for the exam, this type of doctor speaks to them, take their time to listen and understand. The doctor did not pass the patient off as the same patient that they always examine. The patient knew they were not being labeled like every body else. Because of this type of interaction, the patient will tell their friends they have the best doctor in the world.
Racism is another form of hate. The world has tried to make it seem like it does not exist or that it a personal preference. Favoritism or privilege are more common titles used to mask the truth of how hate still does exist. The truth is: we all have dealt with some level of hate. The issue is hate causes a negative reaction that often times is harmful. Maybe not harmful in the beginning but if it lingers and festers, it will morph into something that will come to surface. By the time it reaches the surface, it has developed deep roots that will be difficult to stop from growing. This is what we are facing now. For centuries, hate has been lingering and festering; developed deep roots. Most of us cannot explain how or when the hate was planted; it was taught as though it was the norm.
My prayer is that we all stop teaching hate -- or continue to plant and water seeds of hate. We start to plant and water unconditional love. For example, it is not necessary to say, 'I don't see color or race.' No -- see the color of my skin -- I am not ashamed I am black! Just unconditionally love my black skin. Unconditionally love that I make mistakes and I fall short of God's glory just like every body else. I do not fall short of His glory because I am black -- I fall short because I am human that just so happened to be wrapped in black skin. God created me that way and He said it was good! Unconditional love is possible -- we just have to know how to properly plant it so it grows.
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Question: How do you plan to plant seeds of unconditional love to help conquer racism? Leave a comment below.