Years ago, my mom was hosting an extended family meal and needed serving tongs for a couple dishes. As the meal progressed and the dishes were passed around the table, the plastic tongs cracked or broke, one by one, under the pressure of the user. Taking it all in stride, my mom joked, “I guess we don’t know our own strength.” While it might not take much to snap a pair of plastic tongs, if we believe we have great strength because we can break them, we put ourselves in peril.
God is the only one Who is truly strong and capable of doing all things. Philippians 4:10-19 contains Paul’s “confession” of weakness and inability. He explains how he has needs and yet has learned contentment in the middle of his lack, knowing that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (vs.13). In other words, Paul knows who can and does hold the power to accomplish whatever is needed. And it isn’t him. And it isn’t me, either.
The battles and processes I have been going through over the past couple of weeks have been difficult and uncomfortable. As I have previously mentioned, I was brought up to be independent and strong. I was taught by family members to not rely on someone else and to make things happen on my own. This kind of thinking does not bode well for marriage. During my first engagement I nearly ran over my fiancé when it came to decisions. He was too slow to make decisions I used to think. When he did make them, they weren’t the way I would make them. Looking back, it is no surprise that he broke up with me three weeks before the wedding. It would have been disastrous had we married.
Fast forward twenty-plus years later and one would expect the lesson to have been learned. Sadly, it has not been. I still battle my old thoughts and voices which tell me not to trust, that I can do this all by myself. But, let’s be honest, a marriage of one isn’t a marriage. It requires two parties who are willing to come together as one.
When two people agree to come together as one, they are agreeing to a life time of adjustments, all out corrections, apologies, grace, mercy, lessons to learn, and love to fight for each day. Presuming the strength and stamina of your spouse is a guarantee of failure. Just as the husband should not presume the wife knows he loves her, she should not presume that he is able to take on all responsibilities. Each person has his or her strengths, and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. I like household chores, but my husband is the better cook. He likes to be outside with the farm animals and set up the garden, but I like to do yard work and maintain the garden once it’s planted.
Best Beloved, we are not giving the best support, love, and encouragement to our spouses, family, or friends, when we presume another’s strength. It can lead to disasters that may not be reparable.