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Thursday, April 14, 2011
If you are looking from some frank talk about sex, go check out the series going on now at One Flesh Marriage entitled, “The Sexual Intimacy You Always Wanted.” You’ll find new posts on this important topic all week long this week from five different Christian Marriage Bloggers, including yours truly. You’ll find my entry here.
What I actually mean by the title above relates to a post I did last week entitled “What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You.” If you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, I encourage you to go back and check it out. In that post I explained why it is so important to invest your time and attention in getting to really know your spouse. Mostly what I referred to had to do with what you could learn through interaction, observation and conversation – by what you can discern in the natural.
As important as it is to know your spouse intimately in the natural, it is even more important, I believe, to gain a genuine understanding of your spouse’s spirit. What I mean by that is to discern who they really are in the deepest part of their being, what the Bible calls the innermost being. Who were they were created to be? Find out the answer to the question, “What does God see when He looks at him/her?” because God sees their destiny.
Why is this “knowing” so important?
The first reason it’s important for you to understand how God sees your spouse is that in marriage the two of you really are one, which includes one in spirit, soul and body. If you are to have intimacy in the realm of the spirit, you have to see, believe in and celebrate the spirit of your spouse. You are called into your individual destiny but as a couple you each play a big part in the other’s walking out the call of God on their lives.
Jenni and I share very different callings, her in working with children and in being a spiritual mother to some in the next generation. My calling is in worship, songwriting and marriage. But we partner together in everything we do. We take every opportunity to minister together. For example, she might attend a worship conference with me, and I might support her teaching at a children’s ministry conference by leading worship there.
But even if we are ministering separately, I am part of what she does and she is part of what I do. We are one, and we celebrate, encourage and share all that we are and do.
Loving “As If”
The second reason for understanding the spirit (true nature and destiny) of your spouse is that it helps you to have the grace you need to look past some of the stuff you see in the natural that doesn’t necessarily agree with who they really are. This is a key component to loving your husband or wife “as if” they have already come into the full maturity of who they are destined to become.
Seeing your spouse as God does is a critical part of loving your spouse with the love of God. And it is a key component of marital intimacy.
An Eternal Lens
The third reason for knowing your spouse’s spirit is that it can give you an eternal lens through which to interpret some of their actions and behaviors.
For example, I know that my wife is called to be a spiritual mother to others, particularly those in the next generation. One of the ways she walks that out is that for years she has faithfully brought food every week to the young prayer warriors of night watch at the Atlanta International House of Prayer. If I didn’t understand and agree with her calling, I might deem that to be a waste of our money or a waste of her time, perhaps preferring her to stay home on Thursday nights instead of trudging over to the IHOP. Instead, I think it’s awesome that they call her the “mom” of the night watch.
Consider another example. Suppose your husband seems overly talkative and you are constantly waiting on him when you are trying to leave church or a gathering of friends. Instead of being annoyed and impatient, if you saw that God made him a “people-connector” for the purpose of extending the love of Christ to others, you might be a little more willing to wait patiently or even join him as he engages with others.
Maturing Toward Their Destiny
Having this kind of eternal perspective can also allow you to identify immature expressions of characteristics God has placed inside your spouse. If your wife seems overly compassionate and wants to help out every needy person who comes across her path, rather than quashing her compassion or deriding her for it, help her to channel it positively and perhaps balance it with some of your own discernment. Rather than fighting against her nature, help her mature in it.
Learn to use your spiritual understanding to nurture and encourage your spouse toward their destiny. Both of you will be able to better interpret what God is doing as you encounter various life circumstances that otherwise might not make sense without a deeper understanding of who you are individually and who you are as a couple according to the Kingdom of God.
How can I know?
Maybe this “knowing your spouse’s spirit” seems a little mystical and hyper-spiritual. Maybe you are interest in the idea but are wondering how you can gain this kind of insight into your spouse’s true nature?
It is the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth (John 16:13), including the truth of how God sees your spouse. As believers, we have access to that information through prayer, as we seek to discern who they really are. Consider the apostolic prayer I shared last week from Ephesians 1, and ask for “wisdom and revelation.” It is a perfect and biblical prayer for you to pray concerning your spouse.
Pray and seek and be open to new revelation. Talk together about what you hear from the Lord. It is true that we only see in part, so counsel with each other and with trusted church leaders and friends as you go after a deeper understanding of who your spouse really is in their innermost being.
When you look beneath the “covers” of the natural and into the eternal, what you see just might surprise you!
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