Last night, my husband and I had a fight. It wasn’t our first fight, of course, and I’m sure it won’t be our last, but it was particularly interesting. I feel that we learned something really important as a result of our disagreement, and it turned out to be a positive thing for our relationship.
I won’t get into the details, but we were basically fighting about being honest with each other and communicating effectively. Through the course of our relationship, I’ve often unintentionally made my husband feel like he needs to be perfect. Because of this, he often holds back his true thoughts and feelings when we discuss things. He admitted last night that he does this because he doesn’t want to disappoint me by saying the wrong thing. When he told me that, I realized that there were multiple issues at play and that we needed to work through them one by one.
The driving force of the problem is that I have caused my husband to feel that he needs to be perfect. Part of fixing that involves me changing my behavior, which is something that I’ve been continuously working on. I need to make sure that I treat my husband with kindness, gentleness, respect, and understanding on a daily basis. This is something that I often pray about, since I know that on my own I have no hope of improvement.
Another part of fixing this issue was to dispel the idea that my husband should or even can be perfect. What we came down to was a simple fact; nobody is perfect or ever will be, except for Jesus. In fact, on our own, none of us is good enough for anything, let alone good enough to deserve the love of another person. As harsh as that may sound, in my twenty years of life so far I have found it to be undeniably the truth. Yes, I believe that there is good in all of us, some of us more than others. But at the same time, I also believe that there is evil in all of us. There is greed, selfishness, cruelty, and judgementality in all of us to some degree. And in comparison to the “good” we were created to be, we are all a far cry from okay. I think that we all feel this at some point, when we look around us at the world or when we look in the mirror. We realize that something has gone terribly wrong, that no matter how hard we try we just can’t seem to be good. It’s why after all these years of human civilization, our world is still a gigantic mess.
My husband and I talked about this a little bit last night. We came to the conclusion that on our own, neither of us is good enough to deserve the other. As depressing as that may seem, it actually took the pressure off of him. Instead of trying to be perfect, he realized that it makes much more sense to just surrender to the fact that we are what we are: flawed, human, imperfect. No amount of effort will ever make him a perfect version of himself, so instead of trying for that, he can focus on just trying to be the version of himself that he is. He can finally be honest and not have to hide.
We didn’t stop there, though. Even though being a truly good person (a perfect person) is not possible for us, giving up is not an option either. It wouldn’t lead to a healthier or happier marriage, that’s for sure. Luckily for us, there’s a third option. His name is Jesus.
When you throw Jesus into the mix, everything changes. We are still imperfect, but He wasn’t. He lived the only perfect human life that ever existed. And at the end of that perfect human life, He took the fall for all of us who have failed to live that way. He died the way an evil person deserves to die, even though not a shred of evil existed in Him. In other words, he served as a replacement for any and all humans who are willing to take Him up on His offer. I took the offer when I was very young, and have spent many years since then sorting out what it all means. My husband took Jesus up on His offer only a few short years ago. For both of us, that decision changed everything.
Because of Jesus, we are good enough. In God’s eyes, we are as flawless and good as Jesus was. God doesn’t see our selfishness or greed. He doesn’t see our cruelty or our mistakes. He doesn’t judge us the way that we self-righteously judge others. When He looks at us, He sees us through the filter of Jesus. He sees only our good because He chose to see only our good when He sent Jesus to die for us.
The beauty of this gift is that we have a reason to try now. We have hope, in fact a guarantee, that one day we will be perfect. The Bible says in Philippians 1:6 that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” The moment we surrendered ourselves to God, He began to work on us. Throughout our lives, He will continue His work (so long as we let Him) until the day that our human lives end and our eternal lives in Heaven begin. There, we will be perfect. Knowing that, I can eagerly face each day with the goal of taking one step closer to that perfection. Instead of striving and trying harder on my own, though, I can instead draw closer to God and simply allow Him to do His work.
Sometimes, I mess up. In truth, I often mess up. Because as you recall, I was never the one to be perfect; Jesus was. But every day, every time I mess up, every time I fail to be kind or loving or good, Jesus remakes me. He continuously bails me out with His perfect sacrifice, allowing me to go on with my day and my life with the goal of becoming more like Him. He frees me from my failures, cutting them loose so that I don’t have to drag them along as I continue on my journey.
For me and my husband, this means many things. It means that I will continue to work towards being a more loving wife. It means that I will still struggle and fail, probably many times each day, but that I will continue to be given new chances. One day, I may find that God’s work in this area is complete and it is time to see what other areas He needs to work on. It means that my husband does not need to be perfect, and that he can just be himself. It means that he can push forward every day to become a better person, not because it will earn him anything, but because he is lucky enough to have the opportunity to improve. For our marriage, it means that we will continue to love each other unconditionally, forgive each other always, and encourage each other to become the man and woman that God created us to be.
This Christmas, I hope that all of you, my readers, embrace the gift that God has for you. It is the gift of a new start, a perfect future, and freedom from the past. It is the ultimate gift of hope.