You will keep perfectly peaceful the one whose mind remains focused on you, because he remains in you. —Isaiah 26:3
I heard a pastor’s wife share her story of how her marriage became better in the first few years the other day. Her story was one with the potential to strengthen any marriage at any point.
She shared how every time she thought about her husband’s negative traits, instead of allowing bitterness or frustration to eat her up at the thought of them, she prayed for him instead. Though this seems so obvious, it was such a strange notion to me. I spend more time than I’d like to admit in silent frustration, allowing bitterness to take up residence in my heart. I know how much of that energy could be better spent, but I had never heard it so simply put before.
Was this really possible? Could I turn my every one of my negative thoughts towards my husband into prayers?
After a month of putting this simple practice into action, I am convinced it is not simple. It takes so much energy to refocus our thoughts. Negativity and wallowing come naturally to us. We tend to want to focus on the bad at all times. And unfortunately, especially when it comes to our spouse. But we have to remember the truth. There is a REWARD in refocusing. There is a reward when our minds are on Jesus and what he is capable of doing instead of our imperfect spouse and their flaws.
It is often said that you cannot pray for someone and be angry with them at the same time. I believe this is true. Even as I find myself telling God all my frustrations, it’s as if He puts my heart in tune with His own heart. It is as if He is speaking peace over the situation I brought to Him. Instead of resentment, peace overwhelms. Instead of aggravation, gratefulness.
The reward for turning our thoughts over to God is great. These three things are the most obvious changes that will come when you choose to put this into practice:
- What is in our heart and mind comes out of our mouth. This practice creates more relational peace. It makes the words that come out ones that have come from a garden of peace from God and hope for change only he can create, instead of anger towards a flawed person.
- Praying for another person changes you. It softens your heart and refocuses your thoughts on what is good, pure, excellent, lovely, and worthy of praise about your spouse instead of all the things you want to change about them.
- The minor things begin to fade into the background. You start realizing what is actually very small and insignificant, and you learn to major on the majors instead.
What would happen in our marriages if we chose to put this into practice? Bringing to God all that is flawed and only focus on that which builds up. On what is good and pure in the one we love most? You’ll have to join me and see!