Advent reminds you to expect great things in your marriage, but also to look for your spouse and for God to deliver in unexpected ways.
Contrary to the popular notion and the fact that stores have had their halls decked with red and green since October, we are not currently in the season of Christmas. Technically, until December 25th, we are in the season of Advent. The church calendar observed by many Christians tells us that Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas.
Advent comes from a Latin word that means arrival. The season of Advent is all about expectancy and preparing to celebrate the arrival of Jesus on Christmas.
Advent helps us pause amidst all the shopping and decorating and cookie making to remember what Christmas is really all about: Jesus. In Advent, we stir up our longing for Jesus and remember that he is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us.
Longing, Waiting Yet Completely Missing It
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had been waiting for more than 400 hundred years for the arrival of the Messiah. Yet because they had preconceived notions of the way in which he would come and how he would go about establishing his kingdom, they completely missed the fact that he was standing right before their eyes. Not only did they miss him, but they also went against him and killed the very one for whom they had been waiting.
Although Jesus came to Earth as a baby, his ultimate goal was to claim for himself an eternal bride. As is so often the case, there is a clear parallel between the spiritual and the marital as we think about Advent.
What are you longing and waiting for more of in your marriage? What preconceived ideas do you have of what that should look like when it comes?
I’ve written before about how expectations in marriage affect what we perceive (See my post Expectations: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly). Expectancy bias can cause you not to see something that’s right in front of you because you aren’t expecting it or are expecting it in a different form.
- Do you miss your spouse’s expressions of love because you are looking for them to express love the same way you do?
- Do you miss your spouse’s sexual initiatives because they aren’t as overt as you would like?
- Do you miss your spouse’s small acts of kindness because you expect them to be grander? Or worse, because you don’t expect him or her to be kind at all?
- Do you miss small incremental changes in your spouse for the better because you have given up hoping for change or because you want bigger changes?
- Do you discount efforts your spouse makes to help out with chores or errands because they don’t do it exactly how you would?
I’m not saying you should settle. I’m saying you should look for and be thankful for every step in the right direction. Thankfulness, appreciation, and recognition of the good things in your spouse and marriage will not only encourage your spouse in their efforts but will actually help you see them more easily.
Robyn of Up With Marriage has a great quote in her post this week, “Desire to Please.”
Whether you think positive or negative about your husband, either way you are right.
God Shows Up In Unexpected Ways
Advent and Christmas remind us of the lavish love, generosity, and goodness of God toward us. It also reminds us that sometimes God shows up in ways we don’t expect.
God is for you and for your marriage. But if he answers your prayers in ways you don’t expect, will you miss it?
- Maybe instead of changing your spouse, he may want to change you?
- Maybe instead of improving your spouse’s behavior to line up with your expectations, he may want you to grow in showing grace first?
- Maybe instead of getting your wife to submit, he may want you to get better at selfless love?
- Maybe instead of causing your husband to lead in the way you think he should, he may want you to acknowledge your husband as head and to honor and respect him just as he is today?
- Maybe instead of getting your spouse to apologize, he may want you to be the one to reach across the gap between you that was created by your last argument?
One thing Jesus clearly showed us is that the Kingdom of God is often upside down and backward from conventional or popular thinking (be the greatest by being a servant, the last shall be; first, foolish things confound the wise, love your enemies, etc.). So when it comes to your marriage, you might just need to be open to some unconventional and even counter-cultural answers from the Lord.
In fact, I’d expect it.
These last days of Advent, consider where you might need to adjust your expectations of your spouse and marriage in ways to allow you to celebrate all that is good in your relationship.
And as we wait to celebrate God showing up on Christmas, remember that God may also show up in your marriage in ways you don’t expect.