I found a crinkled up note to Ben the other week and the quick thoughts jotted down prompted me to action. Again. Oh how easy it is to do what is right, then fall into laziness. To rise up in action, then fall back in defeat!
My note to Ben said this—
“Ben, we can’t just aspire to love each other. We can’t forsake selfishness–yet do nothing. If we forsake, we must cleave! If we turn from, we must turn to. I can’t just avoid hurting you—I must actively pursue your heart above my own.
The note was written because of Psalms 34:14 which says “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peach and pursue it.” And so I sat there, thinking through things once again—
I can’t just turn away from being selfish, I must also turn to selflessness. I can’t just refuse to say something hurtful, I must also choose to say something encouraging. I can’t just choose not to be spiteful, I must also choose to be kind. I can’t just run away from what is wrong, I must also DO what is right.
In life, I can curl up and refuse to do the selfish thing and call it good. Or I can ALSO choose to act and do something selfless. In the last year or so, I’ve (sometimes) succeeded at keeping my mouth shut when the words I so badly wanted to say were unkind.
This is good, but what about also choosing to say something kind? What about actively learning how to say the kind thing, the right thing, the helpful thing? Am I taking time to do that or am I just content to stay quiet when I’d rather be unkind.
Being selfless means I refrain from saying the hurtful thing, but it also means that I do say the encouraging thing.
It’s easy to do the bare minimum in a relationship, to accept victory when I keep the unkind words quiet. But I’m learning again that this isn’t enough. I can’t just run from the selfish thing. I must run to the selfless thing. I must DO, not just stop. I must ACT, not just sit. I must LOVE not in part, but all the way.
I can’t just sit quietly aside and congratulate myself on how unselfish it was to stay quiet. I must learn to form the words to be genuinely encouraging. It is not enough to do the bare minimum of selflessness. There is no such thing, and yetI am an expert at this! I do what is easy and call it good. I do the unselfish thing in part and think I’ve done the whole.
I’m an expert at this in our marriage. Oh well, I didn’t say it so I was kind. Oh well, I didn’t do what I wanted, so I was loving. Oh well, I let him have his way, so I did a good thing. Ahh! This thinking slowly dulls the sharp way that love should have in my heart. Somehow, doing the selfless thing has become the selfish thing. Count on humans to twist everything!
It is not enough to love my husband with the bare minimum of my heart. It is not enough to give him in part what should be his in the whole.
When I love him, I must love him all the way. When I cherish him, it must be in every aspect. When I treasure who he is, I must leave no part of him out of it. I can’t go partway and call it kindness. I can’t go halfway, and call it love.
It is difficult to abstain from the easy wrong, but it is even harder to say yes to doing the hard right! But when I say yes to doing, our love grows deeper and stronger. When I say yes to doing, I find there is movement as our hearts push closer together. It isn’t just about stopping the wrong, but also doing the right.
Today, I refuse to be quiet, placid, and dormant.
Today, I choose to act in kindness, to go to war against my flesh, to learn to speak the encouraging words, and to love this man with all of my heart saving no cobwebbed corner for myself.