What’s Your Formation?
By Heather Riggleman
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:2
I used to be enamored with the idea of being a runner. I admired friends who posted daily about their morning run, accompanied by personal reflections, epiphanies, or beautiful views. So with encouragement from my husband, I signed up to run the Lincoln Marathon. I found out very quickly two things: I was in love with the goal, but I loathed the practice.
It was hard, heavy work.
I didn’t like to sweat.
It required commitment.
It was boring.
It took up a lot of time.
It did a number on my body, not just my feet.
When I confessed how I felt to a runner friend, she said something profound. “Heather, you don’t sign up to run a marathon because of the goal. You sign up to run because you love the practice. You sign up because you’re passionate about the process.”
After purchasing a pair of Brooks, wireless headphones and creating a playlist, I made the declaration, “I will run five days a week because I enjoy it.” Running then became a ritual, a practice, a process. The rising sun, the sound of my shoes hitting the pavement, and my music jam shifted my focus from a “must get it done” goal to a practice.
There’s a distinct difference between a practice and a goal:
One is linear and the other has an endpoint.
One focuses on the future, the other is about the present.
One is about doing and the other is about being.
One is about results and the other is about being formed through a process.
Here’s the thing friends: it’s the same for marriage. We don’t wake up one morning and set the goal to have the most successful marriage on the planet.
We wake up day after day, interacting with the person we’re in love with. We then decide we want to be together for the rest of our lives. We then get married and wake up next to them day after day because we loved being with our spouses, not the idea of marriage. We love the practice of being together. We love the formation of our oneness.
Just like becoming a runner, marriage needs some healthy practices too. But the key is to develop healthy habits together. Today’s passage from Romans 12:2 is a reminder to establish healthy habits. It’s little things, day after day, year after year. What are some healthy habits or practices that you could incorporate into your marriage? Look no further than the Bible.
1. Make a point to connect everyday
Jesus was often found alone because he went away from the people in order to be alone with God. In Mark 1:35, it depicts the first of many examples of Jesus getting away from the world.
Just as Jesus made a point to disconnect with the world in order to connect with the Father--we too must disconnect from the noise around us and connect with our husbands/wives. It’s a healthy habit to develop.
Couples who are in it for the long haul find little ways to stay physically and emotionally connected, even on the busy days. It might be a walk after dinner, or locking yourselves in the bedroom. It might also mean listening attentively while your partner is venting (not looking at your phone, in fact - put it down!) or offering words of affirmation and encouragement.
2. Find a way to continue the process of dating in marriage
Life gets busy, nothing new. Nothing indicates your priorities better than your schedule. Make sure your spouse is truly a priority by making time for them on your calendar. Find a way to keep the spark alive. For us that sometimes means, a trip to Walmart without children is a date. It’s true. Chris and I considered grocery shopping sacred time together. He loves seeing what’s on sale and finding new foods to sample. I love it because I’m mostly into the free samples and all the time I get to socialize with Chris. We learned early on in our marriage that doing errands, household chores and even grocery shopping is a chance to spend time together.
If your marriage is stuck in a rut or your goals are dead in the water, ask yourself what new habits or practices your marriage needs. While it may not involve a pair of Brooks, it will certainly spark more joy.
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (hey, it’s not for everyone) with her three kids and husband of 20 years. She writes to bring bold truths to marriage, career, mental health, faith, relationships, celebration and heartache. She is the co-host of the Moms Together Podcast and is a former national award-winning journalist. She is the author of Mama Needs a Time Out and Let’s Talk About Prayer. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com.
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