Spousal Appreciation Renewal

A couple may be dependable, faithful, and loving to one another, and yet it is within this context that Appreciation can still deteriorate to mere Expectation.

Appreciation is a positive feeling of gratitude that we experience when our spouse does something for us that we do not [secretly or openly] demand of them in our relationship. Even the smallest of things can result in a sizable positive feeling of gratitude.

Expectation is when we [secretly or openly] demand something to be done for us because of the relationship. Unfulfilled expectations are a bitter feeling that we experience when our spouse does not fulfill our [secret or open] demands. Completely fulfilled Expectations never produce the same feelings as Appreciation, at best they trigger a neutral bland feeling, which makes the relationship feel blah.

As for my use of the term “demand,” some would resist the thought that they demand anything in their relationship. Well, let them tell themselves that the next Valentines Day, Birthday, and Christmas when their spouse suggests that no “gifts” be given to each other on those occasions.

Some might say that gifts on those special days are tradition and not their “demand” of the relationship. Again, if they did not receive gifts on those special days, would their feelings be neutral, or that of bitterly unfulfilled and slighted?

My point here is simple, and it’s not to point the finger. It is however to shine a flashlight so that we can see ourselves in the dark mirror and be genuinely honest with what we see in ourselves. If we are feeling gratitude as a direct result of our relationship, we are likely people of Appreciation and our spouse is free of our [secret or open] demands called Expectations.

I have looked in the mirror and have seen a change within me that I want to make. I want to starve, uproot, and burn my tree of Expectation; I want to plant, nurture, and be blessed by a tree of Appreciation. If we are cultivating two trees in our heart at the same time, both Appreciation and Expectation, the Expectation tree will soon overpower the Appreciation tree. We must eradicate (with extreme prejudice!) our own trees of Expectations.

The Book of Proverbs speaks directly to many matters of the heart, including those of married couples. Here is a passage that speaks to us directly as couples; it isn’t only referring to physical intimacy, but to the big picture of keeping the relationship fresh throughout the years of living life together:

“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.”

~ Proverbs‬ ‭5:18-19‬

In nature, most trees absorb carbon dioxide and other potentially harmful gasses from the air and release oxygen. One large tree can supply a day’s supply of oxygen for four people.

In our analogy, the trees of Appreciation absorb potentially harmful feelings such as unfulfilled expectations, and release gratitude into the atmosphere of the marriage. If in nature one tree can provide oxygen for four people, think of how rich the atmosphere of a home will be if there are two trees of Appreciation for just two people!

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#PastorsTip #Proverbs5 #Appreciation #Expectation #Gratitude #Unfulfilled #Fulfilled #Marriage #Relationships

A Loving Desperation for God

When is the right time to become desperate for more–for all–of God?  While it certainly is the right time to seek Him with absolute diligence when we face a trial of enormous potential consequence (cancer, divorce, bankruptcy, etc.), the most critical time for becoming desperate for God–for all of God–is when we do not feel like it.

When we have become numb to the things of His Spirit and His Word, this is the most critical moment that requires a self-awakening and a self-discipline to stir up the fire within us before it goes out completely under the burdens of life.

The Psalmist describes for us a beautiful picture of being desperate for God:

“As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?”

( Psalm 42:1b-2 )

Picture with the Psalmist a deer that has spent its day in the heat and maybe even has run from a predator at one point, and nearing the end of the day it is more than ready for a deep drink of refreshing, cool, life-sustaining and life-restoring water from any of the number of brooks or streams available in its territory.  Imagine the joy and the refreshment that the deer enjoys even as it approaches a water source, smelling the aroma of the fresh water even while still a mile away.  Its anticipation begins to refresh it even before the first drink is taken in.

Our lives have their own challenges and predators.  Sometimes we become so engaged in the battles of life that we forget to drink and hydrate our lives frequently throughout the day with the living streams of God.  Without a steady inflow of the waters of His life our lives become parched, thirsty, and eventually even numb to the thirst that our souls so desperately need to have quenched.

In the second verse the Psalmist asks himself when will he “appear before God.”  This reference includes the idea of appearing before God’s Face, a face-to-face meeting which brings to mind the kind of relationship that Moses had with God.  Moses would meet with God face-to-face (so to speak) as a friend meets with a friend.  Their relationship was very special.  This is the kind of relational encounter the Psalmist is asking himself about, when will he drink deep of the waters of God and present himself before God with a loving desperation to know Him more, and for God to know him more in a relational way?

The bottom line is this: out of our love for God, let us all cultivate a loving desperation for God, not only a desperation to know about Him, but to know Him personally.  Through the Cross of Christ we may approach our Heavenly Father with utmost confidence (Hebrews 4:15-16).  As you anticipate approaching Him in the minutes or hours to come, can’t you already smell the aroma of the fresh streams of God’s living water that flows from His Presence?  Like the deer anticipating its water, let us anticipate our time of face-to-face with God.

See you at the altar, my friends.

#PastorsTip