Mark: I remember when I first became a Christian, I heard about the concept of “dying to self.” It was often used to describe those times when we wrestle with God between doing things our way versus doing things His way. It was “dying to self” that motivated me to stop partying and stop smoking cigarettes some 37 years ago when I said yes to Jesus. I had no idea, however, how much marriage would uncover how much “self” still needed to be put to death.
Jill: I would agree. And I think parenting is a close second for providing that “refining fire” that reveals the places “self” reigns and needs to be put to death. Marriage, however, gets the number 1 spot because we’re having to navigate life so closely together that our “selves” just keep bumping into each other.
Mark: Have you ever found yourself mumbling under your breath about something your spouse did? Well that self-righteous mumbling is your “self” raising up.
Jill: Have you ever found yourself thinking that your way is the right way? That pride is your “self” raising up.
Mark: Have you found yourself thinking about someone outside of your marriage? That lust and temptation is your “self” raising it’s ugly head.
Jill: Do you more often think of what your spouse does wrong than what he/she does right? That critical spirit is your “self” that needs to experience a quick death.
Mark: Do you control situations with your anger? That’s a red flag that your uncontrolled “self” needs to die.
Jill: Do you disregard or minimize concerns your spouse expresses? It’s time to raise the white flag and surrender your “self”ishness that explains away the concerns and responds with defensiveness.
Mark: My affair was the epitome of “self.” Oh I wanted to make it all about Jill, but that was a smoke screen that kept me from looking at me. Sure Jill had some changes to make just like I did, but my “self” was most definitely leading my thoughts and decisions.
Jill: It seems that nearly everyday God shines a light on some way I need to die to myself. Sometimes it has to do with my thought life. Other days it has to do with my temptations. Sometimes it’s my attitudes or my actions. When we die to self it means we set aside what we want in any given moment in order to do what God wants me to do. It also means that we value others as much as we value ourselves.
Mark: When we die to self we’re no longer obsessed with having things our way. Our marriage improves because we no longer bring selfishness, control, and even addictions to the table. Conflict doesn’t go away because you’re still two very different people trying to live life together, but conflict does decrease because we’re no longer lobbying to get our own way or controlling to make sure things go the way we want them to.
So what do you need to die to? Where is your SELF causing pain in your marriage? Where do you need to stop pointing the finger at your spouse and start looking at what part of SELF you’re bringing to the party?
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