What if God created marriage, not to make us “happy”, but to make us “holy”? I remember reading that a few years back…It was a question posed by author Gary Thomas in his book, Sacred Marriage. My question today is this: what if we can see our family relationships as opportunities, not to make us happy (even though there are many times that our children fill us with immeasurable joy) but to make us more holy? How would that be possible? What would that look like?
Wow, what a punch in the gut, huh? Have you ever noticed how the things that bug us most about people, are the things that we don’t like in ourselves? I’m not only talking about our spouses, but people in general…we are usually most bothered, irked, frustrated (call it what you will) by characteristics or qualities in others that we wish weren’t a part of us like: selfishness, pride, self-centeredness, talkativeness (to the point of not allowing someone else to talk), nosiness (is there such a word?), rudeness, stubbornness, disrespect, etc. (You get the picture!)
Sometimes those things are noticed most because we see them in ourselves. Have you ever wondered if those are qualities that God wants you to ferret out of your own personality? We do tend to notice the irritating qualities of others very readily, don’t we? Often marriage counselors will say: if you want to know what you need to work on in your life, ask your spouse!
I have found in my own life that when it comes to my kids, where I overlap most with any of our guys is where we butted heads the most. In other words, the child who I am most like, is the one that I used to mix it up with most often. What does that tell us about ourselves?
If we see the rubs in our relationships as opportunities for being introspective and evaluating our own take on life and on the situations we find ourselves in, we may use the conflicts with our children as a chance to grind down some of our own rough edges! So what would that look like? How do our relationships offer us opportunities to become more “holy”?
I guess that depends on how one would define “holiness”? Perhaps it would mean exhibiting Christlike qualities like the Fruit of the Spirit as described in the Bible in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, (charity), (generosity), (modesty), and (chastity). (The qualities in parentheses are included in the Catholic theology.) If we modeled those qualities in our homes and taught our children these important, life-giving attributes, then it would be a win-win situation: with our family relationships making us both happy and holy! Everyone would certainly get along better and in the process of living in a home filled with the fruit of the spirit, you can bet the relationships would be more loving all around. Maybe it’s worth a try!
What is the one “Fruit of the Spirit” that you find most lacking in your household? How can you model it for your children?