It was a simple phone call that landed me in hot water. A phone call and an innocent mistake led to a tense few moments between my husband and myself. I ordered take out for a friend who was in need and made a mistake when ordering. The result was an extra $20 charge that I didn’t expect. I tried every which way to fix my mistake, but the restaurant wasn’t budging. I just had to suck it up, hope my friend really liked General Tso Chicken, and explain to my husband what had happened.
Unfortunately, the conversation went exactly as I expected: Joe was annoyed and I felt guilty. To top it all off, we both felt bad that a thoughtful gift for a friend turned into an argument. This wasn’t the first heated discussion he and I had had about a similar situation. I couldn’t understand why we kept butting heads about something I considered to be so important–being there for a friend–and he couldn’t figure out why I felt so lax about spending money.
A few days later, I took a Spiritual Gifts Inventory and discovered my top gift is Mercy. This revealed so much! According to the description for Mercy, those with this gift feel others’ emotions and have a deep compassion for people. I always wondered why I cry at the drop of a hat, why I can’t watch the news without bursting into tears, or hear a story about someone in distress without sobbing. I tend to seek out (and find!) those in need and I rush to meet that need in some way.
While this news explained so much about who I am as a person and why I respond in certain situations the way that I do, it also revealed to me why my husband and I are like oil and water in many ways.
Joe’s top spiritual gift is Administration. Administration is very black and white and involves organization, clarity, and details. Unlike the messiness of people’s emotions, those with the gift of Administration like things to be orderly and clean. Numbers, budgets, and spreadsheets put a twinkle in their eye the same way delivering a hot, home-cooked meal to a hurting friend does for those of us with a bleeding heart.
Once I realized that our top spiritual gifts could not be more opposite in a lot of ways, I understood why we struggled in certain aspects of our relationship. Often, my desire to rush to someone’s aid, spend hours in conversation with someone who is hurting, or send a meal to a loved one was met with exasperation by a husband who is watching the clock to make sure we aren’t late, over-extending ourselves, or cutting into our budget.
We’ve had many heated conversations about my frustration with his lack of compassion and his frustration with my over-exuberance to help others. The result was friction between the two of us that led to apologies across the table. Obviously, this is not glorifying to God nor is it healthy for our marriage. How can we both use our God-given gifts when we feel compelled without causing a battle in our home?
I have prayed and thought a great deal about how to reconcile these areas of our life. I have come up with a few suggestions for how we can feel secure in using our Spiritual Gifts while still honoring our spouse and maintaining harmony. Whether you share our Spiritual Gifts or you struggle with others that are mis-matched, hopefully some of these can work for you in your marriage.
- Discuss. Discuss. Discuss. Talk about everything in advance. I find when I get in trouble is when I don’t run things past my husband in advance like ordering delivery for a friend, setting a coffee date, or offering to let someone stay with us. The tables are turned when my husband places strict guidelines on our time or our budget without first consulting with me. Most of the time, when we hear each other out, we are able to reach a compromise where we both feel we’re honoring God with our Spiritual Gifts as well as each other and our marriage.
- Pray. I hope one day this will be a knee-jerk reaction, but for now, I have to remind myself to pray for God’s guidance. Often when I run ahead of God, I am meeting a need for someone, but that need was perhaps meant to be met by someone else or not in exactly the way I met it. And I am learning that when I go outside of God’s Will, I am not exercising my Spiritual Gift in a way that is glorifying to God or really edifying to the person I was trying to help.
- Be Aware of When I am Leading and God Is Not. I can easily get caught up in the idea of helping someone and the good emotions that go along with that. I have to be careful that my emotions and feelings are not leading the charge, but rather that God is clearly paving the way and opening a door for me. Sometimes my good intentions get the better of me and I find myself being led by my own desire to feel good.
- Put my perspective in the right order: God, Husband, Family, Friends. When I am seeking God’s guidance and direction, and really being in tune with Him, it will happen naturally that I am also honoring my husband as the head of our house. God will never lead me in a way that is contrary to His Word. His Word tells me that I am to love God above all else and next to love my husband. Honoring that order will ensure that I am in harmony with the way God is leading.
These are not full-proof by any means, and we are working this out as we go in many cases, but it’s a start to avoid the pitfalls that in the past have sent us into a tail-spin. The bottom line is that our Spiritual Gifts are given to us to glorify God. If we are not using them in that manner and along with His guidance, we are not glorifying Him or our honoring our spouse.
Mandy is a work-from-home wife and mom of 6 children ages 2-9 yrs. She and her husband Joe live in the Pittsburgh, PA area where they homeschool their 3 oldest. In addition, she acts as the coordinator for her local MOPS chapter and teaches preschoolers in Sunday School at her church. Mandy has felt a calling to the ministry of women– and moms in particular– since she started blogging in 2009 at www.SuburbanStereotype.com and later in 2012, with five other women, as the founder of www.DeliberateWomen.org, and she also contributes to www.FruitfulFamiles.com. The sense of community she discovered when joining the “mommy blogging” world was amazing and she envisions creating that same sense of community and acceptance in her writing and during speaking opportunities. Mandy feels that now is the time to step forward boldly in faith and demonstrate a life of love and purpose– and how that looks in everyday life as a wife and mom. It is her goal to be real and transparent–and break the cycle of Christians hiding their struggles so that they will look the part of ‘good Christians’– and allow others to see her imperfect life so that they will gain encouragement and acceptance for their own.
Find her on Pinterest HERE.