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If I had to summarize Blake’s last post, I’d say that nothing matters if you don’t really LOVE your spouse. I was certainly convicted when he asked, “When was the last time you put loving your spouse at the top of your to do list?” Yikes!! When was the last time I put loving Blake on my to do list at all? I mean really, shouldn’t that just be natural…must I work at that? For me, cleaning requires work, cooking requires work, parenting requires work! These are the things on my to do list. Can’t loving Blake be easier than that? If we were all honest, loving any other human being requires effort. That doesn’t sound really romantic, but it’s truth. Love is a choice I should choose every day. It can even be a hard choice that involves an act of our will to do something even if it’s not all that comfortable. Love is also more than a feeling, it’s a verb that requires action. If I don’t consciously and actively choose to love Blake, then we both miss out on the plan God had for us today, the plan He’s had all along when He created marriage. If I don’t consciously choose to love Blake, then our marriage does not accurately portray the relationship God wants to have with His church. Remember, marriage is a visual of that sacred relationship.

And by the way, don’t I preach to my own teenager that a full grasp of geometry won’t just happen? Justin hears from me every day that he must work harder to understand his schoolwork when he thinks just being in the class will suffice. NO! Homework and extra effort are required. Sometimes even outside research is necessary! We always expect Caleb to practice violin in order to get better and make that instrument sing! Just taking lessons from Mrs. Amy and hoping he will get better won’t work! I believe that it is the same deal with marriage and loving your spouse. It requires effort on YOUR part. Maybe even a little practice and homework.

So what’s the homework, and what should I actually practice? 1 Corinthians 13:4 says “LOVE IS PATIENT.” Oh no, seriously?! If I love Blake then I am to be patient. (It is at this point in this post that I have to tell you that BLAKE MCKINNEY made the up front decision on who would be writing about which topic! I’m going to very patiently assume that he did not assign me patience on purpose!) But wait, isn’t patience a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5? If it’s a fruit of the Spirit, then it should just come naturally I thought! It is truth that all those fruit listed in Galatians 5 are what the Holy Spirit produces when we are filled with the Spirit. So maybe the question is more like “What can I do to allow the Holy Spirit more access and authority in my life so that I will ooze with patience, among other things? Even patience toward my spouse?”

I am more likely to be filled with the spirit and exhibiting patience when I am spending devoted time in His Word consistently, offering personal worship, committed to expectant prayer, and serving others in Jesus name. OK, so there’s a little homework that could lead to patience. My personal relationship with Jesus must be tended so that the overflow of His unending mercy to me is patience and unending mercy toward Blake.

What would it look like if I was truly patient? Do you know what the American Sign Language sign for patience is? Check this out: http://www.signingsavvy.com/sign/PATIENCE/313/1.

Yes, you saw that correctly. Even the sign for patience involves shutting one’s mouth! How appropriate for me, because patience would most definitely involve me keeping my mouth from manipulating, arguing, complaining, and chiding. For me to be patient, it would involve trusting God and Blake enough to stop trying to control each situation. I should be patiently waiting for Blake to think about what might be best for our family and church without me giving so much input. I should patiently wait for him to talk, even if I think he should have a million things to say! I don’t need to talk all the time. Most of the time I am talking it’s because I’m impatient…wanting things my way in my ideal time.

So this week, I’m going to put loving Blake on my to do list by spending time with God each day, asking Him to fill me with His Holy Spirit, and then asking Him to help me keep my mouth shut…be patient for God and Blake to do their thing!