As I write this, I'm sitting in the bedroom I share with my husband, staring at our very posed and forced engagement photo taken 16 years ago. After laughing at the picture's lack of spontaneity, I remember how I felt while I sat there. I was in love with Markus on a high, ignorant level. Like big, fat crush, hormone-pumping love. He could do no wrong, and even if he did, I let it slide off of me like a pat of butter on warm toast.
If you asked me, pre-wedding, if I considered myself selfless, I would've proudly said, yes. However, a little while as Mrs. Lloyd, brought out my true colors because marriage unveiled the real me.
Engaged at 23, I had no idea how becoming a wife would change, challenge, break, shape and force me to die to myself if I wanted our marriage to last.
I refused to see the log in my own eye while pointing out the splinter in his. I tried to get Markus to think and act like me and have the same priorities I had. I also expected Markus to make me happy while hoping, in the meantime, he was happy too.
Years into our marriage, I was folding laundry, mad at Markus because he had said something that once again proved how opposite we were. But I was tired of being frustrated with him, and the Lord told me it was time to respond differently to my husband, to his face and in my heart.
I told the Lord I desperately wanted to become selfless toward Markus. I wanted to cheer him on and be his biggest fan, but I needed His help. I knew this would be hard, but I was ready to change.
I asked God to give me eyes to see Markus as He did and to appreciate how God had wired him. When I was tempted to choose me, I asked God to remind me to choose Him. To help me assume the best of Markus rather than the worst. And to reveal to me His heart for this man and melt my heart into His.
Slowly, oh so slowly, it happened. As God changed me, I saw Markus differently. I appreciated Markus and all the ways God wired him rather than praying He would change Markus to look more like a "mini-me". God showed me marriage is not about me and the happiness I receive from it, but about me looking more like Jesus.
I noticed I was no longer jealous of his success, but rather excited for his opportunities. I looked for ways to serve him instead of waiting for opportunities to stare me down. When my "self" rose to the surface, I pushed back the lies with Scripture and believed the truth the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart.
This took effort and time, but I saw myself transform into a more holy Lisa, rather than a trying-to-be-happy Lisa. Surprisingly, I was happier dying to myself and putting my husband ahead of me than living the way I had up until then.
And I reflected the image of God.
Dying to myself in marriage is something I will continue to work towards for the rest of my life, but I want to do it well.
You and I are not perfect and won't always care more for our spouse's happiness than our own. Our husbands won't always care more for our happiness than theirs, so we must not expect them to make us entirely happy. God must fill our happiness tank, and out of this filling, we can selflessly make God famous to our husband.
Imagine a marriage where spouses fight for the happiness of the other. Imagine a marriage where spouses try to out-serve the other. Tension between them would dissolve because these two wouldn't focus on themselves, but the glory of God through them.
Imagine how this kind of marriage would make God famous.
This is possible. Easy? Nope, but possible? Yes. It is worth it for our happiness, holiness and the fame of God's name.
Lisa Lloyd is a charismatic actress, speaker and writer, dedicated to helping women break free of the lies that convince us we don't have a purpose, when in fact God has created us to herald His fame. She is the author of the new book, Chasing Famous.
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