Last week he and I managed to carve out some alone time as we celebrated 13 years of marriage. We lingered over dinner at a nice restaurant, and the following morning lingered over breakfast and treated ourselves to some purchases at the mall. I made him get a pair of new shoes..Greg hates to buy anything , especially clothing for himself. He would much rather spend all of our extra (as if there is such a thing) money on me. But him improving his wardrobe blesses me, as much as me getting something new for me..I get just as excited. It is always nice when we can invest in each other...making "deposits" so to speak. Much like an account that in order to grow and have a healthy retirement, our time together can breathe life and growth into our relationship.
The Clifton Strengths Finder is an assessment tool that companies use to explore their employees "strengths". At Greg's work, they have all of the staff take this assessment, and Greg thought it would be fun for me to as well. The test results give you ,out of 34 strengths, your top 5 that you tend to operate from most often. My number one "strength" was "Belief". Now I have to admit, that I sort of liked the way it rolled off the tongue. I liked that I would be identified as a grounded person with a strong conviction about things. Here is the short of how the assessment defines this "strength"....
People strong in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.
...sounds good, right? This is a strength. It will drive me towards purpose. It will keep my focus on the goal. It will help me to not settle when there should not be compromise. However, what I have found, as we have all learned through life is that there is a fine line between our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. They actually can be one in the same. For example, the very thing that ignites a fire in me to hit the gym and stay in shape, can be the very thing that discourages me because of my belief in the ideal. The expectation in my my mind of the perfect romantic dinner out, can be the very thing that hinders me from enjoying getting out of the house alone with my husband and just appreciate being together. To put it bluntly, belief is good...but not when it makes me a b!#@#.
In the midst of our anniversary, some of my belief was getting in the way. After a day of reflecting, we were able to sit down and honestly talk through some difficult dynamics between us over the years. By Gods' grace, I was able to confront some of my expectations in a loving, humble conversation. That led to my husband responding in humility and tenderness. I've heard it said that the universal love language is "death to self". Other things will fall into place as we are able to die to the things in us for the sake of another. VERY hard to do, and I fail more often than succeed in this area.
"I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh upon the handles of the lock." Song of Solomon 5:5
This is a story in the bible about the beloved coming to the door of his love in the middle of the night and she doesn’t respond to him to open the door to let him in. The beloved comes with liquid myrrh that had been applied to his hands. He put his hand through the hole at the top of the door and touched the lock, leaving myrrh on the handles. Myrrh is well known in the bible as a fragrant burial substance. It is obtained from a tree and oozes out in the shape of a tear. It was used to keep a body from decaying rapidly or decomposing. After the crucifixion of Jesus, his body was treated with myrrh and other aloes weighing a hundred pounds. In essence, Christ covered in myrrh, symbolizes the sweetness of his death and preservation of our lives. How much more, because of His grace, do I need to die to self and then be dripping in myrrh in my life, toward others, and especially towards my husband for the preservation of our relationship. Greg is much more often covered in it than I.
As "defined" as I may be in my strengths and weaknesses, my beliefs and convictions.....death to those things is far more important for my growth in relationships with God and people.
"and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." Ephesians 5:2