This week at the Institute, our focus was on relationships, marriage, and family. We had some incredible speakers come visit us who were very passionate about the subject. Not only did they talk about marriage, but they also gave us a broader view of relationships, our own personality, and how those are to fit together. We began the week by hearing from Lamar Trieschmann, who is a pastor in Arkansas. Part of his teaching included time to take a spiritual gifts profile and a personality assessment. I had taken a spiritual gifts test before. If I remember correctly, the results from that test showed that my strongest spiritual gifts were Pastoring/Shepherding and Showing Mercy. This week, the test did not include Pastoring/Shepherding, but my highest results were still in Showing Mercy. This basically means that I am sensitive towards suffering. I tend to be sympathetic or empathetic, and enjoy being there for others. I think that this described me very well!
After taking the spiritual gifts profile, we took a personality assessment. When answering the assessment, you were supposed to answer as if we were in a stressful situation. After taking this assessment, you recorded the results on two graphs. One showed the personality that you felt like others expected from you, and the other was the personality that was really you. On the former, my “golden retriever traits” came out. On the latter, I was equally golden retriever and beaver. Basically, I am a combination of a passive/people-oriented person and a passive/task-oriented person.
The rest of the week focused on marriage. Looking back on the week, there are five keys things that I learned about marriage that I didn’t necessarily realize before. On Thursday, we had some couples from the community come and talk to us about their relationships and what they have learned from them. It was neat to see the reality of marriage and not just the picture-perfect view that the media often portrays. The next day, Gary Smalley and Joe White came to share with us their wisdom about Biblical relationships and marriage.
1. If you are single and you have a desire to marry, you need to cover it in prayer. It takes the mystery out of it because God is in control. This was not necessarily a new idea, but just a statement that made me realize the importance of it more fully. I had heard before that it is important to pray for your future husband, but I had never thought of it as a way to give God control in that area. I loved this idea, because I feel like it’s something that I can turn around and directly apply to my life right now. So often when I learn about marriage, it’s hard for me to take the information and feel like I can directly apply it, since marriage seems like such a far-off idea at this point in my life.
2. If you’re constantly thinking about ways that you can safeguard your marriage, then it’s not going to be as hard in the long run. Provide accountability in your life, especially when interacting with members of the opposite sex. Keep no secrets: all passwords should be known and accessible by both the husband and wife. Bounce your eyes. Yes, there will still be attractive people, even when you’re married, but you can’t focus on that. Immediately move your attention away.
3. Being an independent woman isn’t everything. If you are constantly doing things for yourself and not allowing your husband to take care of you and your needs, then he won’t feel like he is doing his job as a man. Let him showcase the gifts that God has given him.
4. Marriage is not for your own good, purpose, pleasure, etc. The purpose is the sanctification of both of you as you seek to become more like Christ.
5. When a wife is being too dominant in a relationship, they are weakening their husband and his role. Instead, they should work to pull strengths out in their husband and encourage his as he leads the home.
Of the things that I learned this week, I want to apply them all to my future marriage. After seeing the way that the Lord has worked through Godly relationships that I admire, I want to model my relationship after theirs’. I also learned five things that I want to do personally as I walk through my singleness and prepare for my future, if that is what the Lord wills.
1. In my single state right now, I want to resist the temptation to obsess over marriage. I need to focus on what I’m doing at this point in my life right now, and not what is to come. Marriage is not a better state; it’s just a different state.
2. In my future marriage, I want there to be an open sense of communication. I want my husband to feel comfortable sharing with me anything that he needs to, good and bad, and I want to feel comfortable doing the same. I don’t want to sugar coat situations, but face them head-on together.
3. As I prepare for marriage, if that’s what the Lord wills, I want to learn what it means to be a strong woman who is not independent in an unhealthy way. I know that I can be too independent sometimes. I want to work on this not only for my relationship with my future husband, but also in my relationship with the Lord right now.
4. When approaching marriage, I want my husband and I to realize together that it’s not going to be a fairy tale and it’s not going to be perfect. Rather, it is a process of sanctification. The Lord will refine us through the relationship, through good and bad.
5. Ultimately, I want my husband and I to realize the reality and magnitude of marriage as a covenant. It is a binding agreement and divorce is not an option. We are making the covenant before God, each other, and our future children to stand firm, not matter the trials that come.