Loyalty and Kindness

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
    Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
    Write them deep within your heart.
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
    and you will earn a good reputation.
Proverbs 3:3-4 NLT

I’ve been reading in Proverbs the last couple weeks. I had gone through other New Testament books and was trying to find my next read when God put wisdom on my heart. The bible is the best place to look for wisdom – it has guidance for every situation we face in life. And Proverbs is literally a book of wisdom that was written in part by the wisest man to ever live, King Solomon.

When I read over Proverbs 3:3-4, I felt a stirring in my heart. I had struck fire. King Solomon felt that loyalty and kindness were so important that you should tie them around your neck as a reminder, and write them deep within your heart. These two simple nouns are keys to finding favor with both God and people. I feel like these are two words I need to both study and put into practice.

Kindness is straightforward enough in what it means, but not as easy to practice. Never let kindness leave you. That means in whatever situation I find myself in, with whomever I may be talking to or working with, I need to let kindness be my mode of operation. I need to be friendly, generous, and considerate with everyone.

Loyalty goes a little deeper. I’m not a scholar, so I don’t know if my interpretation is completely correct, but when I think of loyalty I think of my “people”. My husband, family, friends. When it comes to them, I need to be loyal. I need to have their backs, not speaking bad about them to anyone. I need to fight through the hurt to keep the relationship. I need to give them my undying support and love. I need to defend them and be their advocate. I need to stick by their side, just as Sam stuck by Frodo in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I can see why these two words are so incredibly powerful. Think about how relationships, how your work and home environment, might change when these are put into action.

I hope this inspires thought and action like it did for me. And I hope you’ll join me in praying that God will develop these things within us.

 

9/11/18 | Leaving and Cleaving

This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.
Genesis 2:24 NLT

Disclaimer: I know this won’t resonate with all my readers, but I hope it might be an encouragement for those of you who are engaged, married, or hope to be someday. I also realize that not all couples are equally yoked, meaning that you may be a Christian but your spouse is not. Some of you have Christian parents and some of you don’t. I pray that you’ll seek God in your marriage and that He’ll provide in all the ways you need. This is by no means all the information out there on this topic, but I hope it can point you in the right direction.

I am going to go out on a limb here and assume you didn’t marry your spouse based on physical attraction alone, but also based on what they bring to the table. You enjoy their humor and the way they talk. You have a lot in common and get along great. But you also found their morals, opinions, thought processes, life experience, way of doing things, and reasons for doing things appealing as well. You enjoyed how they differed from you and how that made you a stronger person.

But for whatever reason, once you actually married that person, all of a sudden their strengths and the things you loved most about them when you were dating became direct opposition to your own way of doing things. Meaning, they come into conflict with the way you were raised and with the way your parents did things. All of a sudden the very things that so attracted you to them become points of disconnect between you and can even cause arguments.

Instead of leaving the family we grew up in and forming a brand new family with our spouse, we run into trouble when we begin treating marriage like an extended sleepover. We like that person, it’s fun to be around them, but when push comes to shove it’s going to be our way (or rather our parents way) or the highway.

We need to see marriage as what it’s supposed to be: the joining of two into one. Men were not meant to do life alone, so God created women to come alongside them. And the two became one, both lending their strengths to the marriage. In a very real sense, your husband or your wife is your other half. God created man and woman so that they would leave their parents home and create a brand new one.

My husband doesn’t think the way my dad does. I don’t do things the way Luke’s mom does. And that’s to be celebrated. My husband is at his best when he has my trust and support. I’m at my best when I have his.

You weren’t meant to remain in your parent’s family, just as they weren’t meant to keep you in theirs. This means that your parents no longer have the final say over what decisions you make for your family – it’s up to you two to make the call and then live with those decisions. This means that the two of you decide which house you’re going to buy. The two of you decide when you’re ready to have kids of your own – no one can make that call but you. And so on and so on – down to things like buying a lawn mower or changing your diet.

Your relationship with your parents changes dramatically when you marry. This can be a very painful and confusing time for all parties involved. But your goal is this: to put your spouse first and foremost, and then to honor your parents in the process. One of the ways we honor our parents is by continuing to hold them in high esteem, respecting them, and understanding that they have a lot of life wisdom to offer. What a blessing we have in our parents, especially if they’ve been a Godly example for us!

These are difficult waters to navigate. I am only beginning to understand what it looks like to have an adult relationship with my parents and my in-laws. I would strongly urge you to seek out biblical counseling to help walk you through it so that you honor the Lord, your spouse, and your parents and in-laws – this has been one of the best things  my husband and I have done together. No matter if you’ve been married 1 year or 60 (we’ve been married for 9 years), you both need to learn to walk through these waters as a team, and seek God for the answers. Begin praying with your spouse and ask the Lord to show you how to build and establish this new normal. He’ll help you.