For years I had low self-esteem and I did not like myself. I hated my personality and I hated the way my voice sounded. Somewhere along the line, through the abuse I had endured growing up, I internalized the shame. I was no longer ashamed of what was happening to me—I became ashamed of me. I was hurting and, consequently, was hurting other people.
Did you know that if you don’t like yourself, you are never going to like anybody else, and you won’t be able to help your spouse like himself or herself? You will spend all your time trying to prove your own value. Healing first comes by accepting yourself, knowing that where you are today is not where you will end up, and knowing that God is continually perfecting you, too. We all need to accept the unconditional love of God and acknowledge the fact that God doesn’t love us because of what we do – but because of who we are.
One morning, as I sat in my pajamas praying, the Lord said to me, “Joyce, I really can’t do anything else in your life until you do what I have told you to do concerning your husband.”
The Lord had been dealing with me because I was having problems being submissive. I had such a strong will and was still caught in my defensive attitude from being abused as a child. I was missing out on the blessings God was eager for me to enjoy.
After praying, I got up and went to take a shower in the new bathroom my husband Dave had just installed off our bedroom. Since he had not yet put up a towel rack, I laid my towel on the toilet seat and started to step into the shower.
Dave saw what I was doing and asked me, “Why did you put your towel there?”
Right away I could feel my emotions getting stirred up.
“What’s wrong with putting it there?” I asked in a sarcastic tone.
As an engineer, Dave answered with typical mathematical logic. “Well, since we don’t have a floor mat yet, if you put your towel in front of the shower door, when you get out you won’t drip water on the carpet while reaching for it.”
“Well, what difference would it make if I did get a little water on the carpet?” I asked in a huff.
Sensing the mood I was in, Dave just gave up, shrugged his shoulders, and went on his way.
As it turned out, I did what Dave had suggested, but I did it by angrily slamming the towel onto the floor. I did the right thing, but I did it with the wrong attitude.
As I stepped into the shower after throwing my towel on the floor, I was filled with rage. “For crying out loud,” I ranted to myself. “I can’t even take a shower in peace! Why can’t I do anything without somebody trying to tell me what to do?” In my frustration, I went on and on.
Although I was a Christian and had been in ministry teaching others for some time, I myself lacked control over my own mind, will, and emotions. It was three full days before I calmed down enough to get over that bath towel incident.
For those three days, I was the noisy gong and clanging cymbal described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is the highest form of maturity. It often requires a sacrificial gift. If love doesn’t require some sort of sacrifice on our part, we probably don’t love the other person at all. If there is no sacrifice in our actions, we are most likely reacting to something nice they did for us, or simply pretending to be kind to gain some control over them. Love is almost always undeserved by the person who receives it.
Our decisions should always have our spouse’s interests in mind. Even a mediocre marriage requires sacrifice. It is important to understand that true love gives of itself.
Sacrifice means you are not going to have your way all the time. This means both the husband and wife are called to love each other with unconditional love. There has to be sacrifice of selfish desires if a couple is going to enjoy a triumphant marriage. As for me, every day when I get up, I choose to have a good marriage. I’m not leaving that one for chance to decide!
This article is taken from Joyce’s audio teaching, Marriage That Works.