I suppose I took it for granted.
After all, I had been a missionary in Africa. Graduated from seminary. He was heavily involved in Christian publishing. We were both serious about our faith.
A spiritual match made in heaven.
Yeah, I figured our spiritual connection would just fall into place. Naturally and easily. I somehow imagined we’d wake up from our honeymoon and start praying together. Studying the Bible. Memorizing verses and maybe entire chapters.
Our lives together would be one long spiritual retreat.
Um . . . not exactly.
As it turned out, I still had to make breakfast. And he had to rush off to work. And I got pregnant and woke up feeling more like throwing up than praying. We had diapers to change and meetings to attend. Bills to pay. Things that don’t generally happen on spiritual retreats.
Much to my disappointment, something called everyday life kept interfering with our spiritual connection.
If we wanted to enjoy a spiritual walk together, we were going to have to do something about it. It clearly wasn’t going to happen on it’s own.
So over the years, we’ve found these 5 ways to help us build a stronger spiritual connection:
1. Set realistic expectations. You don’t need to have daily devotions together to be “spiritual”. Sure, I love it when my husband and I pray together, but it doesn’t always work out for us. Thankfully, all-night prayer vigils and intensive Bible studies are not essential to enjoy a a spiritual walk with each other. So don’t set yourself up for disappointment by your own strict definition of what it means to be “spiritual”.
2. Let God into those little moments. Stop to praise the Lord when an unexpected check arrives in the mail. Cry out to Him when your family is sick or hurting. Sometimes I simply whisper into my husband’s ear that I thank God for him. It’s not a Bible study or a formal prayer, but these are truly spiritual moments. And I find our days – and years – are mostly made up of such holy times.
3. Pray for each other. Simply and sincerely. We’ve drawn closer to each other during those seasons when the only thing I could do was silently lift him up. Without fully realizing it, I was ministering to him in the midst of those difficult days. And I’ve had situations where I needed the same kind of care. Don’t fix it for me. Don’t preach to me. Just pray for me.
4. Don’t neglect your own spiritual life. You don’t want to wait for the other person to initiate something together and in the meanwhile leave off with your own spiritual growth. Focus on your own Bible-reading and prayer time. Ask God to do His work in you. The two of you are one flesh – so when one of you is growing? It’s a blessing to you both.
5. Encourage – rather than judge – the other person’s spiritual walk. It’s so easy for us to start to think of ourselves as “spiritually superior” to our spouse. His sin, his shortcomings, are so evident to us. But the Bible specifically warns us against this kind of thinking. Instead, decide to be the quiet encourager. Be someone who walks alongside your spouse, rather than one who presides over the other.
Slowly, surely, over the years, my husband and I have been able to build a solid, spiritual connection. Perhaps it’s not the “one long spiritual retreat” that I imagined, but a spiritual journey all the same.
And that might be even better.
Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women