Friday, June 18, 2010

The Challenge of Encouragement

For the past 30 days I took up the challenge to be more encouraging to my husband and see what would happen. Here is the original post about the challenge. I was faithful to the challenge most days. Some days the best I could do was not to be negative. Other days I forgot about it completely and remembered 3 days later... Thank God I still learned a lot from this whole experience! I have an awesome marriage and thought I'd benefit from being more loving and encouraging to my wonderful husband. The wonderful man I love deserves the best wife I can be.

Here are the 3 key things I learned:
Encouraging my husband can be a skill learned. Words of Encouragement is not my first love language but the challenge reminded me to do it on purpose, be creative and practice often. Some people are more natural encouragers than others. It was good to know that I can grow as an encourager to my husband. 
I don't have to be verbally critical about everything I think is wrong in the relationship. God has the power to change things if I pray and remain respectful. This might have been my greatest lesson. When I noticed what I was getting into with this challenge, I thought 'what if we have problems? How am I supposed to address them?' There is a way to be respectful and loving even when facing challenging issues in my marriage. There is also the correct time to talk about issues. Great lesson!
My focus changed from his faults to his virtues. When you are praising your husband in a consistent basis, your focus changes from wrong to right. That alone makes your outlook in life as well as married life much sweeter.

The challenge asked thought provoking questions such as: "Do you promote an atmosphere of peace, or do critical words often flow from your mouth? Do you struggle with anger?" In my selfishness I often don't realize that criticism can change the atmosphere of the whole household for the worse. The saying 'when mama ain't happy nobody's happy' proves to be true but it doesn't have to be when we seek to be peacemakers in our own home. 

The challenge recognizes that not every marriage is in a good place. Some relationships are going through tough challenges. The writer of the challenge is very sensitive to that and I like it. It's fake to paint a picture of every marriage as being oh so perfect and sweet. Human behavior is not that predictable, especially when each person brings their own load of baggage with them. No matter where you are in your relationship, one quote I read this month proves to be true: "Criticism leaves scars; but encouragement can bring healing." I choose to think that this challenge came to me in the right time. I went through some changes (not hormonal) that would have been ugly if not for the commitment to be more encouraging to my husband. I learned a lot about him but most of the learning was about myself and how I can be a better wife.

I enjoy watching Marriage Today with Jimmy and Karen when I can. I think they are one of the top ministers when it comes to Christian marriage. I recently watched one of their shows online and learned that honor is the highest thing you can give any man. This is how to honor a man in a practical way (from The Most Important Need of a Man):








Allow him to fail (not talking about self-destructive behavior);




Confront him in love but let God be the enforcer;
Honor your husband where you want him to be. "A man will grow to the level of honor his wife will give him." 
Focus on his strength not on his faults. The devil is the accuser of the brethren. Praise is a weapon against the devil. Honoring is a discipline that reminds us of what's right with each other and why we fell in love with each other. 

My prayer is that I can take this challenge further and continue to remember to honor, respect and encourage Zeke daily. My hope is that he fells loved and encouraged on a daily basis. Te amo Zeke! 
Now, are YOU up to the challenge?

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