I just noticed something today. I know I shouldn't be surprised, but sometimes I just get distracted and don't make a point to notice things -- or at least to acknowledge them in the moment.
Almost three weeks ago I began reading the book, The Love Dare with about 40 women at Christian Women Take Root. I thought it seemed like a good idea as my belief is that our marriage (of 33 years as of June 12!) is better than it ever has been and I think I secretly expected to discover I (we) didn't "need" to do the study. Imagine my consternation at NOT being able to say, "Oh I don't need to improve in this area" about ANY of the areas thus far! Nor, I suspect, will I in all honesty say that at any point throughout the remainder of the book.
The group is, I believe, on Day 21 or 22. I'm on Day 18. I am not unenthusiastic, just very, very busy and being pulled in many directions right now. Also we are on largely opposite schedule so can go a couple of days in a row with only phone contact. My first thoughts were of resenting that I should be the one who changes. After all . . . it takes two to make a marriage. But when I am completely honest with myself, I am not the person I would like to be. Not that I'm not a good person . . . just not as much as I'd like to be. Whether I change "for my marriage" or "for myself" was not really the point. It was that I desired to be a better person.
Okay, so I first admitted there was 'some' room for improvement. By day three I surrendered completely to the process admitting that I need and want to change in many ways small and not so small! I haven't told my husband anything about what the assignment for each day was. I obviously haven't even kept up with the daily assignments. Again, in part it's because of our crazy schedules.
I have been changing though. Some of it has been conscious. Some, though, is unconscious--almost like osmosis from reading the book and reading about what the others are experiencing. And lately I've noticed a difference in my husband too. Remember the only thing I told him was that I was participating with the group. I have no idea if he looked up the book, read a review of it, or even gave it another thought. Just the fact that I cared enough to read the book brought about subtle changes in him -- and in us.
Today, I noticed a difference in how I deal with situations at work and how and what I think of others. I am extending more grace! If nothing else, The Love Dare study has reminded me just how desperately I am in need of God's all-sufficient, all-encompassing grace - not just today, but every single day of my life. Every hour. Every minute. With every breath. In light of my acknowledging God's grace toward me, a sinner, I am more willing and able to extend grace to others.
It's really like ripples of water, growing and expanding wider and wider with each small change in me. My marriage is improving. My work is improving. Other relationships are improving. My life is improving. We are all interconnected in ways we don't even realize and cannot even imagine, so I know the changes in me are bringing about changes in others.
I know others in my life are being impacted in their other relationships as well. God uses us in ways small and large to advance His kingdom. He is so very good to allow my small efforts to surpass any hopes and dreams I have about making an impact on the world. I'm figuring by the time I finish the book, the ripples will be as big as the ocean itself!
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us' (Hebrews 12:1 NIV).
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV).