Megan Oaks | @MeganCOaks
For anyone who has read my testimony, or been following closely my life in the blogging world; you’ll know a very special day is approaching in my life. A day that may bring back some pain, but today I am anxiously awaiting its arrival so I can celebrate. In just a few sort weeks, my husband and I will reach the one-year mark from the day he walked out of our home and declared our marriage was over.
On February 22, 2015, my life changed forever. And not just my life, but my relationship with God and my perspective on love. I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it a thousand more times because it is so true; watching my husband walk out of our front door completely broken and ready to throw away ten years of hard work and memories was the wake up call I needed to get my life in order. The realization I needed as a child of God that I am not perfect and without sin.
I think it is a common downfall among Christians to play the “better than” game. We are all sinners, but we fall into the comparison mindset to make ourselves feel better. “Well, I may gossip but at least I haven't killed anyone.” Or, “I might have told that lie but I’m not cheating on my spouse”.
The truth is, no one sin is greater than the other in the eyes of the Lord. In fact, my failure to genuinely love my husband the way the Lord loves us was the sin that led him to his sin of walking out. Like a domino effect, one sin leads to another and not just in our own lives. We have the capability to either encourage those around us in their walk, or to bring them down in sin of their own. This is applicable on so many levels -- alcohol, abusive behavior, drugs (even medicinal), over-eating, sexually immoral relationships. The list can go on. My list however is going to stop at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 -- The love chapter!
“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy or boast. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not rejoice in evil but delights in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails…”
As I stated, in just a couple weeks I plan to celebrate a day that brought me enormous amounts of pain. This day however, while it seemed life-shattering, has molded me in ways I never imagined. When my husband said he was done, I decided I was not. When he gave a list of all the things that he needed in order to stay, I vowed to become the wife God intended me to be. When Chris looked at me and said he didn’t feel loved anymore, I decided to research exactly what love was.
It was as if I had received a terminal diagnosis and my only hope was to change my lifestyle in order to save my marriage. Just a few weeks shy of a year later, and our marriage is restored but it took a lot of hard work and facing some difficult realities.
In the past year, I have read and re-read the love chapter countless times. There were times I read it out of anger, literally crying out to God and begging for a husband who would love me. Those times were early in our trial and were short lived. As I cried out of frustration and hurt; God began to open my eyes to see just how unlovable I had become and, more importantly, how I was not loving Chris the way God calls us to love. I had failed to follow the blueprint in 1 Corinthians and in turn, failed my husband.
It’s easy to point out the fault in the others. How they have failed us and caused us pain, but we forget to look closely in the mirror at the pain we may have caused them. If I were to use 1 Corinthians as a checklist for myself as a wife, I shamefully would admit that there would not be a single checkmark. Daily I failed Chris in one-way or another. I’m not always patient, especially when he has no sense of urgency and has to make a potty stop one last time before we walk out the door. I have envied his “position” in the family, as breadwinner; able to leave the house and children to go have adult conversation and have a purpose outside of the home. I have dishonored him, even though I was just venting to my girlfriends about how he just throws his laundry around expecting me to be his maid, my words were not reflective of love nor honor. I certainly have not always trusted him, stemming from things that happened in my childhood and my parent’s marriage, but causing him to pay the penance for their wrong doings.
For years I kept a mental list of how I felt Chris was failing me, completely blinded to the very obvious truth that I too was failing him. We are not perfect and more importantly; we’re not called to be. We are however called to live a life aligned with truth and Biblical principles. We are called to cling to the Lord and search his word daily to grow in our convictions. We are called to live by those convictions and draw others to the Lord.
As a wife I was not aligned in truth, I was not searching my Bible to grow in conviction or into the woman He designed me to be and I certainly was not showing others what a wife after God’s heart looked like. In a year's time, my perspective has been shifted. When I begin to feel frustrations boil up, instead of playing the blame game; I chose to show love. Genuine love. It has not been easy, and I am not going to buy into the idea that it ever will be, but it has been rewarding. By far the most rewarding experience of my life thus far.
I encourage you, and not just when relationships begin to take a turn for the worse, to examine your love for the people you share life with. Are you being patient? Kind? Honest? Or are you keeping a record of their wrongs? Holding grudges? Delighting in their pain? Use 1 Corinthians as your checklist not only as a spouse, but also as a friend, parent, sibling, child. We can all use a little direction in life, and I cannot image a better direction to follow than that of the Lord!
May we all love others, just as He loves us -- with mercy, grace and completely selflessly. It will change your life!
Megan Oaks is Maryland born, North Carolina raised, currently residing in New Mexico and looking forward to retirement in East Tennessee. Married to her Earthly hero, an Airman in the Air Force and mother to their three "acorns". Recently enrolled in her first college semester at 30 years old and striving toward a degree in Rad Tech. In her spare time, which is few and far between, Megan enjoys photography, reading, following the Baltimore Ravens and reality television. Air Force wife, mother to three, and daughter of the most high King. You can contact her via Twitter at @megancoaks.