Choose to serve not to be served

February 23, 2019

YEARS ago, Lucy and I spent time with a couple in crisis. The husband lamented, “How can I continue living with my wife when I don’t feel I love her anymore. Isn’t that being a hypocrite?”

I said something like, “No, marriage is not dependent upon feelings. It is serving one another even when we don’t feel like it. When we continue to do this, the loving feeling will return.” I was amazed when the husband replied, “I have been part of our church for years but I never heard of this before. Where did you learn this?”

The reality is that many times we don’t feel like serving. If we are honest with ourselves, we would rather be the one served. Takes no effort.

What would happen if we don’t go to the office because we don’t feel like it? We would soon be unemployed. The same thing is true for marriage. What would happen if spouses don’t serve each other because “they lost that lovin’ feeling?” Then the fear of being loveless will be a self-fulfilled prophecy. The way to counteract that is to decide and choose to serve, regardless.

If you are having difficulty serving, start small. You don’t have to climb the highest mountain or cross the deepest oceans. As the adage goes, little things mean a lot.

Here’s one example. Many times we resort to nagging to fix an issue. But nagging a spouse has the subliminal message of “there’s something wrong with you” which discourages rather than encourages. Switch gears. Find one admirable trait in your spouse and commend him or her for it: “I appreciate the way you…” In so doing, you are serving him or her with kind words, which is more of an exception rather than the rule nowadays.

Think also of little, thoughtful gestures. I am amused at this scenario: While they were still courting, a man opens a door for his girlfriend. Then when they get married, bahala ka na sa buhay mo (roughly translated, you’re now on your own, baby)! Taking your spouse for granted kills servanthood. Familiarity truly breeds contempt.

A marriage falls on the rocks when both spouses seek to be the master. But it flourishes when both seek to be servants under the umbrella of the Master. To do this, we need to draw our utmost satisfaction from God, from which we are free to serve our spouse without constraint and regardless of how we feel at the moment.

Every day of waking up next to each other will no longer become a chore. It becomes a celebration.

For this Love Month, check out my relationship books Finding Comfort, How to Mend a Broken Heart, and The Honeymoon Never Ends, available in major bookstores nationwide. For more insights, check out my FB Author’s Page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/nelsondybooks/notes/