In college, I took copious notes, and studied them meticulously before every test. Each “A” was like a little gold star in my heart.
At work, those little gold stars took on the form of a promotion. Or a simple, “Good job.”
As a new parent, I beamed with pride when my daughter started speaking early. Potty trained before age 2? More little gold stars.
But when I tried to apply this aptitude to marriage, my efforts fell flat. Homemade meals meant to impress were burned. I lovingly washed his laundry only to shrink his shirts. Even the “helpful” advice I gave him turned out to be less-than-helpful. I missed my gold stars.
I’d like to say I was motivated by my profound love for my husband. But I’d be lying. Oh, I loved him alright, but my actions were motivated by something much more selfish: my need to succeed.
At an early age, I bought into the lie that success = value. That I was “less” if I failed, if someone didn’t like me, if I wasn’t the best. So I held on dearly to each little gold star, be it figurative or literal (God bless elementary teachers!). Each one a life buoy to hold me over until the next one. And in between? Lots of non-star-worthy moments.
Maybe this is why I didn’t accept Jesus until I was in my twenties. I just couldn’t fathom a world where, “the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16).
But can I share something I’m still learning? Marriage is no place for gold stars.
My husband needs a wife motivated by love, not one obsessed with achievement. And I want my husband to feel he can come to me when he falters a bit, not scared of whether or not I will hold him to some unrealistic standard. Our value in this marriage is not determined by our successes, but upon the love and forgiveness Christ has shown each of us.
No gold stars here. But love, hugs, apologies, and second chances? We have lots of those.
The good stuff: Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:4)
Action points: Motives can hide in unsuspecting places. Like in the desires we have for our marriage … and our spouses. What motivates your actions toward your spouse? Did you clean the dishes after dinner because you wanted to lighten their load? Or was it to prove a point—I do too help around the house! Today, attempt to examine your motives in each interaction with your spouse. Pray for God to reveal any that might not be driven by love.
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