Last night we had a lovely dinner with a younger couple we have been blessed to get to know. They are preparing to leave for Germany, as the husband is a pilot in the military. They too have spent quite a bit of time doing international missions, meeting and falling in love along the way. We shared stories about how we met as couples, and they asked us a number of questions about our 17-plus years of marriage.
At one point, in response to a question about something Tara had learned that really helped her in our marriage, Tara began sharing about how she had to learn that she was not responsible for my actions and that she could not control what I did. (I’m unfortunately really good at helping her figure that one out.) She said that she had to learn that the main thing she could do is pray. As she said it, I realized that one of the main things we must learn, as we navigate marriage and all of the other relationships in our lives, is that we are not God – in other words, we must learn humility. We must let God be God and we must live within the authority we have. We must humbly walk out the responsibilities God has given us and not try to usurp authority we have not been given. We must also trust God (through prayer) to be the loving, good, and kind God He is who promises to complete the good work He has begun in each one of us.
According to scripture my main function as a husband is to love my wife and to submit to her in love. There is nothing in those scriptural admonitions that tells me to control, boss, or discipline Tara; likewise, Tara is not given authority to control or discipline me. We must both submit to one another and to the Lord and trust God to continue his good work in us. To do anything else is to question whether God is really doing a good job. In essence, when we try to exercise authority we are not given, we are judging that God has been ineffective, removing God from the throne, and setting ourselves up in His place. The end results are never good, in marriage or otherwise.
The next time you are tempted to judge your spouse or friend and try to “save” them from all the bad things you’ve determined they do, step back, give it all to God, and pray earnestly for yourself and for them. He is much more interested in working with you on your own heart and relationship with Him than He is in you fixing someone else.