My most passionate topic over the years has been about the one thing that easily devastates any marriage – selfishness. It is also the biggest deterrent from a relationship with God.
Now, I thought I was great at unselfishness. I’ve always been a people person, willing to put others needs ahead of my own. God recently showed me, though, a different side that I never thought of as selfishness.
I may not be neglecting anyone or appearing selfish, but when I lose myself in a party of pity, self-pity at that, I’m selfishly ignoring God’s plan for my life. I’m blocking Him out and focusing on my desires that have not yet come to fruition or may have been temporarily interrupted by someone elses words or actions. This is selfishness towards God. He wants to be part of all we do in our lives, but when we close Him off by getting stuck in worldly ideas and thoughts, we miss out on whatever amazing plan He may have had for us that day. We are not trusting Him. When we allow the weight of the world to pull us into a pit of despair, we veer from the path of our destiny.
How does this type of selfishness affect our marriage relationship? Immediately we equate selfishness with not letting our spouse win in making decisions and not putting their needs ahead of our own. But what about the attitude we quietly ‘pout’ over when we are unable to have our own way? You may have outwardly done a selfless act towards your spouse, but if you inwardly hold a grudge for doing so, you are still behaving selfishly. What about the negative thoughts regarding our spouse that we dwell on and allow to affect our relationship? What about the invisible tally we keep of everything our spouse does that aggravates us? All selfishness – but in a subtle, unnoticed way that only God sees.
I suppose the obscure nature makes it difficult to acknowledge this behavior as selfishness. Your spouse may feel the adverse effects but not recognize them as selfishness. Only God sees the truth of the matter. The bottom line here is how much you care about what God thinks of you.
We have a choice whether to indulge in self-pity or not. Self-pity leads to depression which can cripple a marriage relationship. Harboring negative thoughts about your spouse and longing for them to be like someone else will eventually destroy your marriage. Dwelling on ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ will keep you from the healthy marriage that God intended for you. Call it what you want, but this is selfish behavior that devastates relationships.
So how do we turn from this subtle form of selfishness? We renew our minds daily. It is very important to spend time with God every day so as not to forget this. We need to work to stay focused on God’s plan for our lives. After all, we are here on this planet to reach out to others and to fulfill that plan. Believe it or not, we are not here for the big house, fancy car and amazing career as the world would have us believe.
Romans 12:2 “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
When the world gets you down, get rid of those thoughts and renew your mind on the things of God. Start by thinking of all you have to be grateful for and focus on the positive attributes of your spouse and your family. Thank God for yet another day that He has given you. There is no room for selfishness when you are praising God!