Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Love Dare - Day Twenty-Four

Love vs. Lust

Adam and Eve were supplied with everything they needed in the Garden of Eden.  They had fellowship with God and intimacy with one another.  But after Eve was deceived by the serpent, she saw the forbidden fruit and set her heart on it. Before long, Adam joined in her wishes, and against God’s command both of them ate.

That’s the progression.  From eyes to heart to action.  And then follows shame and regret.

We, too, have been supplied with everything we need for a full, productive, enriching life.  God’s blessings, however, go so far beyond these fundamental needs, we could rightly say that we want for nothing.  Yet like Adam and Eve, we still want more.  So we set our eyes and hearts on seeking worldly pleasure.  We try to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways.  For many it’s seeking sexual fulfillment in another person or in pornographic images designed to feel like a real person.  We look, stare, and fantasize. We try to be discreet but barely turn our eyes away.  And once our eyes are capture by curiosity, our hearts become entangled. Then we act on our lust.

We can also lust after possessions or power or prideful ambition.  We see what others have and we want it.  Our hearts are deceived into saying, “I could be happy if I only had this.” Then we make the decision to go after it.

Lust is in opposition to love.  It means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden. That’s because every object of your lust – whether it’s a young coworker or a film actress, or coveting after a half-million dollar house or a sports car – represents the beginnings of a lie.  This person or thing that seems to promise sheer satisfaction is more like a bottomless pit of unmet longings.

Lust always breeds more lust.  “What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Lust will make you dissatisfied with your husband or wife.  It breeds anger, numbs hearts, and destroys marriages.  Rather than fullness, it leads to emptiness.

It’s time to expose lust for what it really is – a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill.  Lust is like a warning light on the dashboard of your heart, alerting you to the fact that you are not allowing God’s love to fill you.  When your eyes and heart are on Him, your actions will lead you to lasting joy, not to endless cycles of regret and condemnation.

Are you tired of being lied to by lust?  Are you fed up with believing that forbidden pleasures are able to keep you happy and content?  Then begin setting your eyes on the Word of God. Let His promises of peace and freedom work their way into your heart.  Daily receive the unconditional love He has already proven to your through the cross. Focus on being grateful for everything God has already given you rather than choosing discontentment.

You’ll find yourself so full on what He provides, you won’t be hungry anymore for the junk food of lust.  And while you’re at it, set your eyes and heart on your spouse again.  Lust is the best this world has to offer, but love offers you the best life in the world.

Today’s Dare

End it now.  Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it.  Single out every lie you’ve swallowed in pursuing forbidden pleasure and reject it.  Lust cannot be allowed to live in a back bedroom.  It must be killed and destroyed – today – and replaced with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with His perfect love.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A House Divided

My family isn't really avid football fans. We don't spend every Sunday (or Saturday) in front of the tube watching the game.  We do have our favourite teams, though.  Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, New York Giants (isn't it New Jersey, really?), New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and my personal favourite since 1978 - The Denver Broncos.  I've never been a fair-weather fan but rather, have been devoted to the Broncos all these years.  This year I got into watching their games more.  How could I not with Tim Tebow leading the team?  The man is awesome! 

I was disappointed in the Broncos receivers during the Patriots game but I couldn't deny the Patriots defense and the skill of Tom Brady.  After the yelling and the attempts to strangle India, because of her gloating about her Pats, were over I decided I would root for Brady's team in the Super Bowl.  I mean what is the choice? The NY (NJ?) Giants? Piffle!  I hardly think so. No way. India, Jerome and I will be cheering on New England while Andrew roots for the Giants. As Amanda, William and Matthew laugh at the rest of us screaming at the TV and taunting one another.  Prepare for disappointment, Andrew! 

Now, for the food:  Pizza? Wings? Chips? Mini Burgers? So many choices.  Only one week to prepare the feast.  While we think about the menu, here are some interesting statistics about Super Bowl food from Yummly.com:

  • Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest day of food consumption behind Thanksgiving.
  • 1,200 calories: amount the average Super Bowl watcher will consume while snacking.
  • Football fans are expected to eat an estimated 69.6 million pounds of avocados during this year's Super Bowl (mostly in guacamole).
  • The most popular take-out and delivery items on Super Bowl Sunday are pizza, chicken wings and sandwiches.
  • It is estimated that Americans will eat 90 million pounds of chicken wings, which breaks down to 450 million individual wings!
  • An astounding 14,500 tons of chips and 4,000 tons of popcorn are eaten on Super Bowl Sunday.
  • Budweiser has been the exclusive Super Bowl beer advertiser for the past 17 years, and will continue to be until at least 2014.
  • Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest winter grilling day of the year.
  • Approximately 54% of Americans will consume coffee the morning following Super Bowl Sunday.
  • According to 7-Eleven stores, there is a 20% increase in the sale of antacids on the day after Super Bowl.

The Love Dare - Day Twenty-Three

Love Always Protects

Marriage is made up of many things, including joys, sorrows, successes, and failures.  But when you think about what you want marriage to be like, the furthest thing from your mind is a battleground.  However, there are some battles you should be more than willing to fight.  These are battles that pertain to protecting your spouse.

Unfortunately your marriage has enemies out there.  They come in different forms and use different strategies, but nonetheless they will conspire to destroy your relationship unless you know how to ward them off.

Harmful influences.  Are you allowing certain habits to poison your home?  The Internet and television can be productive and enjoyable additions to your life, but they can also bring in destructive content and drain away precious hours from your family.  The same thing goes for work schedules that keep you separated from each other for unhealthy amounts of time.

Unhealthy relationships.  Not everyone has the material to be a good friend.  Not every man you hunt and fish with speaks wisely when it comes to matters of marriage.  Not every woman in your lunch group has a good perspective on commitment and priorities.  In fact, anyone who undermines your marriage does not deserve to be given the title of “friend.”  And certainly you must be on guard at all times from allowing opposite-sex relationships at work, the gym, or even church to draw you emotionally away from the one to whom you’ve already given your heart.

Shame.  Everyone deals with some level of inferiority and weakness.  And because marriage has a way of exposing it all to you and your mate, you need to protect your wife or husband’s vulnerability by never speaking negatively about them in public.  Their secrets are your secrets (unless, of course, these involve destructive behaviors that are putting you, your children, or themselves in grave danger).  Generally speaking, love hides the fault of others.  It covers their shame.

Parasites. Watch out for parasites.  A parasite is anything that latches onto you or your partner and sucks the life out of your marriage.  They’re usually in the form of addictions, like gambling, drugs, or pornography.  They promise pleasure but grow like a disease and consume more and more of your thoughts, time, and money.  They steal away your loyalty and heart from those you love.  Marriages rarely survive if parasites are present.  If you love your spouse, you must destroy any addiction that has your heart.  If you don’t, it will destroy you.

Wives – you have a role as protector in your marriage. You must guard your heart from being led away through novels, magazines, and other forms of entertainment that blur your perception of reality and put unfair expectations on your husband.  Instead you must do your part in helping him feel strong, while also avoiding talk-show thinking that can lure your attention away from your family. 

Men – you are the head of your home.  You are the one responsible before God for guarding the gate and standing your ground against anything that would threaten your wife or marriage.  This is no small assignment.  It requires a heart of courage and a head for preemptive action. This role is yours.  Take it seriously.

Today’s Dare

Remove anything that is hindering your relationship, any addiction or influence that’s stealing your affections and turning your heart away from your spouse.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Love Dare - Day Twenty-Two

Love is Faithful

As Christians, love is the basis of our whole identity. Our love for each other is supposed to be how people distinguish us as Christ’s disciples.  It is the root and ground of our existence.  It is a quality that we are to abound in more and more, always getting better at it, becoming increasingly defined by it.

So if love is what we were created to share, what do you do when your love is rejected?  How do you handle it when the one to whom you’ve pledged your life stops accepting the love you’re called to give?

From the vantage point of the wedding altar, you would never have dreamed that the person you married might later become to you a kind of "enemy," one you would need to love as an act of almost total sacrifice.  And yet far too often in marriage, the relationship does indeed dwindle down to that level.  Even to the point of betrayal or, sadly, to  unfaithfulness.

For many, this is the beginning of the end.  Some respond by rapidly moving toward a tragic divorce.  Others, more protective of their reputation than even their own happiness, decide to keep the charade going.  But they have no intention of liking it--much less of loving each other again.

This is not the model, however for the follower of Christ.  If love is to be like His, it must love even when its overtures are returned unwanted.  And for your love to be like that, it must be His love to begin with.

You can give undeserved love to your spouse because God gave undeserved love to you--repeatedly, enduringly.  Love is often expressed the most to those who deserve it the least.

Ask Him to fill you with the kind of love only He can provide, then purpose to give it to your mate in a way that reflects your gratefulness to God for loving you.  That's the beauty of redeeming love.  That's the power of faithfulness.

Today's Dare
Love is a choice, not a feeling.  It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction.  Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it.  Say to them today in words similar to these, "I love you.  Period.  I choose to love you even if you don't love me in return."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Love Dare - Day Twenty-One

Love is Satisfied in God

Day 20 was a vitally important day in the Love Dare – and in your life.  You came face-to-face with the glaring need of every human heart.  And perhaps for the very first time, you became aware of how personal this need really is.  You may have realized that nothing in your toolbox of talents and resources could repair the damage that sin leaves, and that Jesus is the only One who can supply what you’ve been missing.  If you’ve received Him by faith and have turned your life over to Him to manage and lead, then His Holy Spirit is renewing your heart. His wisdom, grace, and power can now be released into everything you do.  Including, not the least, your marriage.

But whether this is new territory for you or if you’ve been a follower of Jesus for quite a while, now is the time for you to firm up one thing in your mind: you need God every single day.  This is not a part-time proposition.  He alone can satisfy, even when all else fails you.

Every day you place expectations on your spouse.  Sometimes they meet them.  Sometimes they don’t.  But never will they be able to totally satisfy all the demands you ask of them – partly because some of your demands are unreasonable, partly because your mate is human.

There are needs in your life only God can fully satisfy.  Though your husband or wife is able to complete some of these requirements – at least now and then – only God is able to do it all.  Your need for love.  Your need for acceptance.  Your need for joy.  It’s time to stop expecting somebody or something to keep you functioning and fulfilled on a non-stop basis.  Only God can do that as you learn to depend on Him.  But He wants to do it His way. 

The needs of love, peace, and adequacy are real.  No one is saying you shouldn’t have them.  But rather than plugging into things that are unstable at best and are subject to change – your health, your money, even the affections and best intentions of your mate – plug into God instead.  He’s the only One in your life that can never change.  His faithfulness, His truth, and His promises to His children will always remain. That’s why you need to seek Him every day.

Jesus once spoke to a woman at a Samaritan well, a woman who had tried getting her needs met through a string of failed relationships.  With both her life and water bucket empty, she had come to this place broken and hardened yet still desperately in need. What He offered her was a drink of soul satisfaction that never quits giving and refreshing.  And that is what’s available to you each morning at sunrise and each night before bed, no matter who your spouse is what they’ve done to you.

God is your everyday supply.  Of everything you need.

Today’s Dare

Be intentional today about making time to pray and read your Bible.  Try reading a chapter out of Proverbs each day (there are thirty-one – a full month’s supply), or reading a chapter in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).  As you do, immerse yourself in the love and promises God has for you.  This will add to your growth as you walk with Him.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Looks like Trouble to me

I never could call my kids mellow or laid-back (well, I could but that would be lying) but there is something about the game of Trouble that brings out the rowdiness in them.  It started a few months ago when my extra daughter spent the night.  In the wee hours I woke to hysterical laughing and playful yelling.  Now, every time she comes over the game is pulled out.  

This would be kind of boring if it this were a normal game but we don't roll like that.  Our Trouble game is missing many pieces and the gang is content this way.  The odd pieces lead to twisted rules and weird behaviour, like the boys breaking out in random wrestling.  Well, they do this normally anyway, but it seems to happen more often during Trouble. 

About my extra daughter, this poor girl just appreciates being noticed around here.  Tonight she was lucky.  She walked in and was heading toward our living room when the dog jumped on her so she told him to get down.  That's when Jerome turned around from the desk and saw her.  Another time it took longer.  She walked in the house, past the child on the computer and those watching tv.  She walked into my room where I was doing paperwork and we chatted for about 20 minutes before my ever-present blind Terri-Poo realized she was sitting next to him and started barking at her.  When she told him to be quiet, one of my gang heard her and they came up to see her.  


They aren't know for that.

Another example of how much attention my kids pay to things is the simple spaghetti pot.

I've had my rather large spaghetti pot for about eight years now.  I tend not to use it very often since it takes forever to heat all that water.  But there it sits.  On the bottom shelf of my pantry by the canning pot and the over-sized Dutch oven.  Andrew had decided a few months ago that he wanted to take over all spaghetti cooking... twist my arm (Ow!!!)  He complained about the pot I normally use, so I told him of the spaghetti pot in the pantry.  I never understood why from then on he would use my steamer instead but I have learned not to ask about the oddities around here.  

Tonight Andrew decided to make spaghetti again.  As usual, he asked where the pot was and I told him.  A few minutes later he came into the room carrying the huge spaghetti pot.  He was excited by this marvel of science, raving over the depth of the pot.

And then he walked into the kitchen and broke the spaghetti in half...

The Love Dare - Day Twenty

Love is Jesus Christ

The previous day and dare lead to no other conclusion than this. Thankfully, it’s a conclusion you can live with—today, tomorrow, and forever.

Everything you’ve failed at and haven’t been able to do, every minute you’ve wasted trying to fix things your own way—all of it can be forgiven and made right by putting your life into the hands of the One who first gave it to you.

Maybe you’ve never done this.  Then today is your day. 

Maybe you did it years ago, but you’ve wandered far from your spiritual roots.  

Love like this cannot be fully understood. 

Nor can love like this be earned. 

But it must be received

And when you have received this new life and love as your own, you are free to love in ways you’ve never been capable before.

He was willing to love you even though you didn’t deserve it, even when you didn’t love back.  He was able to see all your flaws and imperfections and still choose to love you.  His love made the greatest sacrifice to meet your greatest need.  As a result, you are able (by His grace) to walk in the fullness and blessing of His love.  Now and forever.

This means you now share this same love with your spouse. You can love even when you’re not love in return.  You can see all their flaws and imperfections and still choose to love.  And though you can’t meet their needs the way God can, you can become His instrument to meet the needs of your spouse.  As result, he or she can walk in the fullness and blessing of your love.  Now and till death.

True love is found in Christ alone.  And after you have received His gift of new life by accepting His death in your place and His forgiveness for your sins, you are finally ready to live the dare.


Dare to take God at His Word.  Dare to trust Jesus Christ for salvation.  Dare to pray “Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner.  But You have shown Your love for me by dying to forgive my sins, and You have proven Your power to save me from death by Your resurrection.  Lord, change my heart, and save me by Your grace.”

Write about what this experience has been like for you.  Even if you are only renewing your commitment to receive and express His love, what has He shown you today?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Love Dare - Day Nineteen

Love is impossible

The Love Dare starts with a secret.  And though it’s been an unspoken element throughout each day, you’ve likely grown more and more suspicious of it all the time.  Now that you’re this far, it’s a secret you’re discovering for yourself, even if you haven’t exactly known how to put it into words.

The secret is this:  you cannot manufacture unconditional love (or agape love) out of your own heart.  It’s impossible.  It’s beyond your capabilities.  It’s beyond all our capabilities.  You may have demonstrated kindness and unselfishness in some form, and you may have learned to be more thoughtful and considerate.  But sincerely loving someone unselfishly and unconditionally is another matter altogether.

So how can you do it?  Like it or not, agape love isn’t something you can do.  It’s something only God can do.  But because of His great love for you—and His love for your spouse—He chooses to express His love through you.

Still, you may not believe that.  You may be convinced that with enough hard work and commitment, you can muster up unconditional, long-term, sacrificial love from your own heart. You want to believe it’s in you.

But how many times has your love failed to keep you from lying, from lusting, from overreacting, from thinking evil of this person you’ve vowed before God to love for the rest of your life.

It’s this failure that exposes mankind’s sinful condition.   We’ve all demonstrated selfishness, hatred, and pride.  That’s why if you’re not right with God, you can’t truly love your spouse because He is the Source of that love.

So the hard news is this:  love that is able to withstand every pressure is out of your reach, as long as you’re only looking within yourself to find it.  You need someone who can give you that kind of love. When you surrender yourself to Christ, His power can work through you.  Even at your very best, you are not able to live up to God’s standards.  So, this unsettling secret—as defeating as it may feel—has a happy ending for those who will stop resisting and will receive the love God has for them.  

You simply won’t be able to do it without Him.

The truth is, you can’t live without Him and you can’t love without Him.  But there is no telling what He could do in your marriage if you put your trust in Him.


Look back over the dares from the previous days.  Were there some that seemed impossible to you?  Have you realized your need for God to change your heart and to give you the ability to love?  Ask Him to show you where you stand with Him, and ask for the strength and grace to settle your eternal destination.
What do you believe God is saying to you?  Is there a stirring in your heart?  What decision have you made in response to this?

The Lost Art of Superstition

A simple trip to the local store in my tiny town brought superstitions to mind.   Last night my youngest and I popped into our local market and on the way out I found a shiny penny, face up, in the doorway of the store.  Remembering the superstition "Find a penny, pick it up. All day long it'll bring good luck." I naturally got excited.  

Being from the younger generation, my son's response to my excitement was "If you look in the ashtray, you'll feel really lucky."

Growing up, I often heard many different superstitions from my Mom.  Some of them were totally off the wall but many of them made me believe in superstitions despite the irritation it gave many of my Christian friends.  As a Christian myself, I felt kind of guilty for believing some of the ideas told me but they really made me wonder.  
  • The belief that if your left hand itches you will receive money while if your right hand itches you will pay money has always come true for me.  Oddly the stronger the itch, the larger the amount of money.  
  • Breaking a mirror is supposed to bring you seven years bad luck.  For me it was the opposite, when I broke the large mirror on my dresser as a teenager, it was followed by seven years of the best luck I have ever had.  
  • If a bird flies at your window someone in the house will be pregnant.  When birds flew into my parents kitchen window,this proved to be true with all of my siblings.  When I called my Mom to tell her I was pregnant with my first child, she told me she already knew because of the bird.  {Thankfully, the impact with the glass never killed any birds.}
  • If you peel an apple without breaking the peel: i.e. cut around the apple so that the peel is in one long piece, you should throw the peel to the ground and if it lands in the shape of a letter of the alphabet then it is the initial of the person you will marry.  This proved true with two husbands and my fiancé. As well as...
  • When you peel an apple say the alphabet and the letter that you are on when the peel breaks is the initial of the person that you will marry.
  • Bad luck ALWAYS comes in threes.
  • When a black cat ran across the road in front of you, you would say BREAD & BUTTER ON MY TABLE, CUT IT WITH A BUTTER KNIFE if you could not turn around and go another way, or bad luck would come to you. This has been a difficult one to follow since we usually have black cats.
  • and: You always say so long or I'll see you later, & never goodbye, when leaving family members or you might never see them again.  I was told this by a dear friend of my Mom's.  The last time I saw her I said "bye"... she died not long afterward.
  • The thickness of the brown stripe on the Wooly Bear Caterpillar determines the severely of winter {the thicker the stripe, the harsher the winter.}
  • When leaves on trees turn up, a storm is coming.
  • When chimney smoke goes to the ground, bad weather will follow.
  • The number of fogs in August predict the number of snow storms the following winter
  • A ring around the moon means that rain will come in three days.
  • Crickets in the house bring good luck. As do Ladybugs.  {I guess I am going to be incredibly lucky considering the number of ladybugs who inhabit my home.}
Other superstitions that I have heard over the years but never paid attention to include:
  • If you drop a fork, a man will come to visit you.
  • If you drop spoon, a woman will come to visit you.
  • If a bird flies into your house a death will occur.
  • If you sweep under someone's feet, they will never marry.
  • Never say "thank you" when someone gives you a plant or it will die.
  • If you carry a hoe, spade, or shovel in the house, you must carry it out the same door you came in by, or a death will follow.
  • If all the food on the table is eaten it will be a clear day tomorrow. 
  • If all of the biscuits were gone before the next day, the weather would be fair.
  • If you start to go somewhere and come back for something you will have bad luck.    
  • If you count the number of rigs in a funeral procession you will soon have a death in your own family. 
  • If two forks are laid at a plate with no knife you will be invited to a wedding. 
  • Cats go crazy when a death occurs in their environment and consequently are kept out of the house on such occasions. 
  • If you drop a dish towel on the floor, a worse housekeeper than yourself is coming to visit you.   
  • Never begin a task on a Friday that you can't finish that week, or expect ill. 
  • If your right ear itches, someone is saying bad things about you.  If your left ear itches, they are talking nicely about you. 
  • A peculiar noise heard three times in succession at night, means someone will die.
  • If you spilled some salt, you picked some of it up and threw it over your left shoulder to stop bad luck from coming.
  • Dirt was never swept out the front door after the sun went down or bad luck would come to your home.
  • If a sparrow flew into the home, it had to be killed or someone in the family would die. 
  • You never walked under a ladder or bad luck would come to you.
  • You could not step on a crack in the sidewalks, because it would break your mothers back. 
  • If salt was borrowed from anyone, you paid it back with sugar or bad luck would come to you.
  • A baby was never allowed to look in a mirror before it was a year old or it would die.
  • If a woman was pregnant she never went to a funeral or she would mark her baby.
  • You never tickeled a baby's feet because it would make it stutter. 
Whether or not you personally believe in superstitions, they can be fun just to know.  As for me. I'm not throwing caution to the wind. If these things happen, I'll look to see what they might mean. 

The Love Dare - Day Eighteen

Love Seeks to Understand

We enjoy discovering as much as we can about the things we truly care about.  If it’s our favorite football team, we’ll read any article that helps us keep up with how they’re doing.  If it’s cooking, we’ll tune to those channels that share the best grilling techniques or dessert recipes.  If there’s a subject that appeals to us, we’ll take notice any time it comes up.  In fact, it’s often like an area of personal study.

It’s fine, of course, to have outside interests and to be knowledgeable about certain things.  But this is where love would ask the question, “How much do you know about our mate?

Think back to the days when you were courting.  Didn’t you study the one your heart was yearning for?

Yet there are still hidden things to discover about your spouse. And this understanding will help draw you closer together.  It can even give you favor in the eyes of your mate. 

Consider the following perspective: if the amount you studied your spouse before marriage were equal to a high school diploma, then you should continue to learn about your mate until you gain a “college degree,” a “master’s degree,” and ultimately a “doctorate degree.”  Think of it as a lifelong journey that draws your heart ever closer to your mate.

·        Do you know his or her greatest hopes and dreams?
·        Do you fully understand how they prefer to give and receive love?
·        Do you know what your spouse’s greatest fears are and why they struggle with them?

Some of the problems you have in relating to your spouse are simply because you don’t understand them.  They probably react very differently to certain situations than you do, and you can’t figure out why?

These differences – even the ones that are relatively insignificant – can be the cause of many fights and conflicts in your marriage.  

If you missed the level of intimacy you once shared with your spouse, one of the best ways to unlock their heart again is by making a commitment to know them. Study them.  Read them like a book you’re trying to understand.

Ask questions.   Love takes the initiative to begin conversations.  In order to get your mate to open up, they need to know that your desire for understanding them is real and genuine.

Listen.   The goal of understanding your mate is to hear them, not to tell them what you think.  

 There is a depth of beauty and meaning inside your wife or husband that will amaze you as you discover more of it.  Enter the mystery with expectation and enthusiasm.  Desire to know this person even better than you do now.  Make him or her your chosen field of study, and you will fill your home with the kind of riches only love can provide.

Today’s Dare

Prepare a special dinner at home, just for the two of you.  The dinner can be as nice as you prefer.  Focus this time on getting to know your spouse better, perhaps in areas you’ve rarely talked about.  Determine to make it an enjoyable evening for you and your mate.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Love Dare - Day Seventeen

Love Promotes Intimacy

You can be close to a good friend you’ve known since childhood or college days.  You can be close to a sibling, your parents, or a cousin who’s about your same age.  But nothing rivals the closeness that’s experienced between a husband and wife. Marriage is the most intimate of all human relationships.

That’s why we need it so much.  Each of us comes into life with an inborn hunger to be known, love, and accepted.  The prospect of sharing our home with another person who knows us down to the most intimate detail is part of the deep pleasure of marriage.  Yet this great blessing is also the site of its greatest danger. Someone who knows us this intimately can either love us at a depth we never imagined, or can wound us in ways we may never fully recover from.

If home is not considered a place of safety, you will both be tempted to seek it somewhere else.  Perhaps you might look to another person initiating a relationship that either flirts with adultery or actually enters in.  You may look for comfort in work or outside hobbies, something that partially shields you from intimacy but also keeps you around people who respect and accept you.  But this is your opportunity to wrap all this private information about them in the protective embrace of your love, and promise to be the one who can best help him or her deal with it.

Some of these secrets may need correcting.  Therefore, you can be an agent of healing and repair – not by lecturing, not by criticizing, but by listening in love and offering support.

Some of these secrets just need to be accepted.  They are part of this person’s make-up and history.  And though these issues may not be very pleasant to deal with, they will always require a gentle touch.

In either case, you and you alone wield the power either to reject your spouse because of this or to welcome them in – warts and all.  They will either know they’re in a place of safety where they are free to make mistakes, or they will recoil into themselves and be lost to you, perhaps forever.  Loving them well should be your life’s work.

How much more should we – as imperfect people – reach out to our spouse in grace and understanding, accepting them for who they are and assuring them that their secrets are safe with us?

This may be an area where you’ve really failed in the past. If so, don’t expect your mate to immediately give you wide-open access to their heart.  You must begin to rebuild trust.  

The reality of intimacy always takes time to develop, especially after being compromised.  But your commitment to re-establishing it can happen today – for anyone willing to take the dare.

Today’s Dare

Determine to guard your mate’s secrets (unless they are dangerous to them or to you) and to pray for them.  Talk with your spouse, and resolve to demonstrate love in spite of these issues.  Really listen to them when they share personal thoughts and struggles with you.  Make them feel safe.