Run to Win
By: Amanda Idleman
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. - 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
In our marriages, we never get to a point where we have to stop working at loving each other. We are all called to keep running our race; living our lives together with the goal to win! It’s essential that we are disciplined in our love for one another. Not allowing complacency to steal the glory we are promised to receive in Heaven for being ones who loved each other well.
About a year ago, my husband and I ended a season of time in which we were seeing a marriage counselor together regularly. After our last session, I remember having this feeling like we did it, we arrived at a place where we could do marriage well! We learned new skills, talked through our hurt, and were ready to be awesome together.
While we’ve grown so much and our communication has improved tremendously, the work to keep a healthy marriage hasn’t ended. We have to keep running to win! It takes daily effort, reminders, so much forgiveness, and endless grace on each of our parts. To my surprise, we haven’t yet “arrived” as awesome married people, we still have to work hard at it and fail in our efforts to love each other too often.
Sometimes I find myself buying into the lie which says there will be a day we “arrive” as a couple. Believing that maybe we are defective as a pair because we struggle. I daydream about having a marriage where you are so in sync you finish each other's sentences, never getting on one another’s nerves, and always having unending patience. It’s easy to start thinking that if we’re having to work hard then we must be doing it wrong.
The danger of believing this lie is that it leads to me feeling “entitled” to a make-believe and only-real-on-TV sort of marriage. Consequently, I start giving up on my marriage and giving into my impatience, anger, and discontentment. I feel justified because no one should have to work this hard to love one another.
This train of thought is just so very wrong. Paul graciously reminds us that we all must work hard if we are going to love each other with the kind of love that Jesus calls us to. Paul knows that to live the Christian life, to not give into the “easy outs” that everyday sin presents to us, and to remain unified in a divided world we must treat our lives as one does when they seek to train and win a competition.
If you’ve ever trained for an athletic event you know that those who win don’t play around. I once completed a sprint-triathlon and when I finished my way slowly through the swimming portion, they announced the first person to finish the whole race! Those who won had a level of dedication, training, and grit at a completely different level than where I was.
Yet, that is the kind of dedication to our marriages we should strive for. As believers, if we hope to get to the end of this life and “win” the choices we make in our relationships should be baffling to our non-believing peers. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we have to keep loving each other with laser focus and boundless grace.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for the Daily Bible Devotions App, she has work published with Her View from Home, also for the MOPS Blog, she is contributing to a couples devotional for Crosswalk, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda at rvahouseofjoy.com or follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.
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