Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
God, in His infinite wisdom of how we struggle, has given us two ways we can lighten our load. He tells us to take His yoke upon us by responding to our burdens gently and humbly. Applying this instruction to our marriages can be challenging, so here’s a way to think about it: when our burden involves our spouses, we are to be gentle; when our burden is personal, we are to be humble.
Gentleness is defined as a sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior, founded on strength and prompted by love. So, when we are struggling with our spouse, our disposition should be one of kindness and love. We should be careful not to be overly rigorous in expressing our perspective, not to be unduly concerned with our rights in conflict, and not preoccupied with our own expectations. How often do you choose kindness when you’re deep in conflict with your spouse? Think about those difficult burdens you carry, the ones that are heavy and weighing you down. How many of them are the result of conflict with your spouse? How much of your burden is increased because you have not been gentle with your mate, because your demands or expectations were not met, because your tone was harsh, because yet another argument ensued? How much would change if we approached our husbands and wives with gentleness and kindness, even when they’re wrong, even when they’re having a bad day?
Perhaps your burden is that you are trapped in a loveless marriage, and you long to have a husband who treats you as the daughter of the King you are. You read in Scripture of the way He is supposed to love you, how he is supposed to lead your family, and your expectations for him increase. Or perhaps you have a friend with a loving, doting husband, and you wonder why your husband cannot manage the same care for you, so you grow frustrated or you begin to despair that you will never have the marriage you desire. The burden you carry, the trial you’re in, is a loveless marriage that does not have God in the center of it. You long and you pray for God to move in your husband, but you see no change. Yet how much of the burden you carry is because you are not gentle with your husband? How much of the burden you carry is because of your demands? I know that’s far easier to type those instructions than it is to live them out, but what would happen if you allowed the gentle Spirit of Jesus to reign in you—the same gentle Spirit that asked people to drop their rocks, the same gentle Spirit that comforted His disciples in the storm, the same gentle Spirt that asked God to forgive his abusers?
Far too often, when we’re in difficult relationships, we withdraw and nurse our wounds rather than stepping forward to be the difference we want to see in the relationship. Years of hurt cause us to turn away from the person rather than toward them. But how much of the hurt is caused by our unmet expectations? We want them to behave in a certain way, and when they don’t, we lash out in anger and then we withdraw. What if we were to completely change our expectations, and no longer look to that person to fulfill our need, but simply as an opportunity for us to show God’s love? How often do you ask yourself what is the most gentle and loving thing I can do for my spouse to show them how much I care for them and this marriage?
We are told in 1 Peter 3:1-2, Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Is your conduct respectful and pure toward your husband at all times? What would change if it was? I love the part of this verse that reminds us as wives that we are to win our husbands without a word. How many of us need to stop nagging our husbands with all our expectations of who they should be and what they should be doing, and simply find ways to gently love them more? The truth in Scripture is that women are powerful instruments in changing the lives of their husbands. We are called to be submissive to our husbands, or to willingly place ourselves under them, and we are called to be respectful and pure in our conduct—not judgmental, not self-righteous, just pure and respectful. Just a little further down in 1 Peter 3, we read this in verse, …but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. The beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit toward our husbands would go a long way toward breaking the struggle of living in a loveless marriage. A gentle woman is considerate and unassuming, they are not pushy or demanding, they are not combative or nagging. We have all been the wife that stirs the pot, choose to be the wife that stills the storm. Our burdens are heavier because of how we contribute to them.
If our burden is with our spouse, we can increase our ability to show gentleness by choosing to trust in the waiting. We carry these burdens with our loved ones and we want them lifted right now—we want to see our spouses changed. Don’t you know that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts more than anything, and he would love to be able to give it to us right now? But He has chosen not to for a very specific reason—perhaps their hearts are not ready, or perhaps your heart is not ready. He is at work getting our hearts ready to receive all that he has for us. Be patient. God held off the promised land from the Israelites for 40 years because they were not ready. Be patient in the waiting, and focus on how you can be more gentle—that will lift your burden.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗