“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)
We married young. I had an idea of what marriage would be, but, I confess it was based on Disney princess movies, and 50’s sitcoms like Donna Reed, Father Knows Best and like shows. What I needed back in 1974/75 was Roseann Barr.
So, the dream I had of marriage met with the reality of being a military spouse. They came crashing together abruptly two days after I said “I do”.
This caused anger in me. An undefined anger and resentment. It continued even after our salvation experience. People talk of great testimonies of being saved from addiction, vile life styles, crime and they are incredible testimonies. Not many people will testify that on the outside they looked good, and all together. Actually, I have never heard a person stand up and say, “I was an angry woman. I had resentment up to my eyeballs. I was redeemed from this.”
We don’t hear things like this because we are selfish. Everyone has a measure of selfishness in them. I am no different.
Today as I ironed Dale’s shirt the Lord walked me down memory lane. It was not a good memory trip.
“Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Romans 12:20 (NLT)
This scripture came to mind shortly into my trip down memory lane this morning. I was enjoying ironing a shirt for Dale (I know, but I like to iron). I could almost hear the Lord laughing at me when I pressed the wrinkles out of the shirt. That is when my memory lane started.
I remember how much I hated to iron when we were first married. The creases that needed to be in the uniforms, the precision that needed to be there.
Sometimes being married to a Navy man who likes perfection was more than I could bear. Hence, the anger and resentment.
One day I was complaining loudly to the Lord about that man He blessed me with. And the scripture in Romans came to mind. I determined then, years and years ago, to do everything as perfect as I could, hoping to heap lots and lots of burning coals on Dale’s head.
At first I can remember growling over the things I did, seeing that he did not notice or stand up to applaud me. But, I continued to do so, praying for him to notice my diligence. I was doing things out of a selfish motive. I would do this, but, I wanted him to see me and lavish affection and gifts over me.
Years passed, I gritted my teeth many times. I whined to the Lord that I was not being appreciated. I refused to quit “heaping burning coals” on Dale’s head. After all, I was going that extra mile. I was being selfish.
Slowly I realized that as I ironed shirts and uniforms, my prayers were changing. Instead of praying for notice of my perfect creases in the shirts and pants, I was praying for my husband while he wore these uniforms and clothes.
I had found joy in the doing and without realizing it at the time, I was actually heaping burning coals upon myself. The coals finally burned through that selfishness and anger, revealing a love that was dormant for my husband.
I once heard a pastor say regarding marriage, “What ever was strong enough to draw you down the aisle, should be strong enough to keep you there.” There are a lot of arguments about that statement, but, to me, it made me realize that the young love I had when I married was indeed strong enough to keep me in the marriage.
When dreams and reality crash dynamics change. Continuing to be selfish does not help matters. After 48 years of marriage I can honestly say, I am still a bit selfish. I still want that applause and recognition from Dale. WE all crave that from our spouse, family, friends. But, the peace, and joy and satisfaction that with God’s help and strength, I can look at what I accomplish and say to our Lord, “Here is my effort. I may be more of a Roseann Barr type of Mom and wife, than a Donna Reed wife and mom, but this is from me. May it find worth in Your eyes.”