How to Exercise Virtue (Marriage Challenge – 31 Days of Prayer)
I wanted to talk about virtue with you today. And so I’ve decided to share an excerpt from chapter 14 of my book, Messy Beautiful Love. It’s a little story, but it’s one of those lessons that always comes back to me when I want something but don’t feel like doing the grunt work it takes to get there.
Marriage takes grunt work. That’s not all that poetic, is it? But neither is putting your pride aside or your distractions for the good of your family. Sometimes we feel the pain that comes with growing–the sting that comes with self-sacrifice–but we’re maturing nonetheless and that’s a good thing.
virtue | noun
conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles;uprightness; rectitude.
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
– Proverbs 31:15
When we think of virtuous women we often picture them as being loving, generous and kind; women who reach their hand out to the poor, lead their children in faith, and provide food for their family. What I tend to overlook when examining the lives of virtuous women is that they also exhibit a high level of self-control.
I’m not a morning person, so I can’t begin to tell you just how impressed I am with this. I’m sure if I was sitting down to have tea with her I’d ask, “What? You get up at what time?!”
I practically said that exact thing today when I was chatting with one of my neighbors. She has the most obedient, fun loving dog I’ve ever seen. He’s a big teddy bear if I’ve ever seen one. The minute he sees you, Willis will flip over on his back and wait for a belly scratch. I love that guy!
So today I noticed that he doesn’t as much as flinch when another dog walks by. He’s always outside without a leash and never leaves her side unless it’s for a belly rub.
“How did you get so lucky?” I asked, as I bent down to scratch his tummy.
“Oh, it wasn’t luck,” she said. “We got him at six weeks old, and for the first month I got up every morning an hour earlier than the kids to train him. I’d take him outside and show him where his boundaries were and what we expected of him. I had to be on him 24/7.”
I had already thought this woman was pretty much perfect in every way, but this one cinched it. She cooks like Rachel Ray, decorates like Martha Stewart, and works out like Jillian Michaels. Now she’s got a dog that puts Lassie to shame. It’s no wonder her husband is always smiling.
She has three kids and looks like a teenager, but I still love her.
Getting up is one thing, but what we’re really talking about here is virtue. We’re all a work-in-progress as we strive to put will over want. Whether we’re talking about appetite, over-spending, laziness or losing our temper, we all benefit when we exercise virtue.
If you value a clean home, do the leg work it takes to get there. If you value your faith, then nurture that faith by opening your Bible more often and taking time out to pray. If you value your marriage, actively work on your relationship.
Whatever it is that you’re struggling with, make every effort to be self-controlled. That’s when you’ll notice results!
Excerpt from Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages. Used with permission by Thomas Nelson
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You are loved by an almighty God,
The Time-Warp Wife
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Thanks for this post. I needed it. Been wanting to shed a few pounds and has not gotten around to doing it. Need to watch my servings and run every morning before the children wake up. Seems an uphill task. Lord help me.
Yes. I know what you mean.
I never considered self-control as an aspect of virtue, but it makes sense. I recently prayed for self-control in my struggle with the mental obsessions associated with my eating disorder and so far, it’s been easier to not only stick to reasonable sizes portions and to healthier foods (which was more of an issue than the amount, truth be told) but to not obsess about every bite and that I could be getting rid of it.
But I digress, it never occurred to me to ask for the strength and discipline to take care of my daily obligations, like cleaning the house or getting dinner on the table, I just struggled with it every day. And it is a strain on my marriage, though my husband would never admit it. Since I also work from home, he’d never admit to wanting me to care for the house too, but I feel like a failure when the house isn’t clean and there’s no home cooked meal waiting. Funny how sometimes we just walk around God in our homes like he’s a fixture to step around, instead of someone (The One) to ask for help.
Thank you for this post, I feel both convicted and like my load is lightened.
Blessings to you! Lindsey
Thank you for sharing this Lindsey. You’re not alone in these struggles. I’m sure there are many women who will be encouraged by your words.
This post convicted me. I am sitting at my computer in my pajamas at 9:30 in the morning, my house is a wreck and my child is still asleep. Clearly I have to do the work in order to get the result. Right now, I’m getting the result of the work I do- not much. Thank you for this gentle reminder to exercise some self-discipline as well as the prayer to see that in so doing, we are giving an offering to God.
We all need a little kick in the jammies now and then. LOL
Thanks Darlene, I loved this in your book and you captured virtue so well for this post using this part! You are speaking to the “choir” here about not being an early riser (at least with joy) because my 4 pooches now have me trained to rise and shine so that they can greet the dawn and take care of their ‘business’ bright and early (today it was 5:30am) and as much as I tried, I could not fall back asleep… really wishing I could. And self[ control (don’t get me started) … all I can say is I need this prayer, this virtue and know that I am most definitely a “work” still in process and progress if I truly surrender each day to the Holy Spirit at work in me.
Bless you Darlene … have a wonderful day! 🙂 Peggy