April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women's Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person - having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. ~Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life, 1859
Marriage was intended to be a relationship of intimacy and that means vulnerability. After God, your spouse is the one who sees nearly every flaw. How we respond to each other’s weaknesses and insecurities can make or break the trust so vital to the intimacy of marriage.
Responding to your spouse's struggles with compassion and understanding creates an atmosphere of comfort, safety and trust. Not only will your marriage be stronger, but as individuals you will be able to conquer more of those daunting tasks in life because you know you have a cheerleader right there beside you. As a husband or a wife, you have a place of influence that no one else has! We are wise to learn how to be our spouse’s safe place.
The following are some of the ways God prescribes we offer comfort and encouragement to our family in Christ:
2 Corinthians 1:3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
All of us feel overwhelmed or discouraged at times. When you see your spouse in that predicament instead of reminding him that he needs to work harder to climb the ladder of success or poking a finger at her struggle to juggle the demands of kids, the house and work, choose to comfort them with grace and love. God allows us to experience trials for many reasons, but one of them is because he wants us to reach out with compassion and understanding to others.
2 Corinthians 1:7: …knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.
The context of this verse describes a ministry partnership relationship, but doesn’t it also well describe how our marriages work? We ought to experience each others sufferings, but also share our comforts as we make this faith journey together.
2 Corinthians 2:7: …forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
This verse references the sin of one of the members of the church Paul is writing to. In our marriages we, will see each other fail. If your spouse is repentant, God’s heart is for you to respond with comfort and forgiveness. It is so easy to keep that long list of offenses and mistakes our spouse has made and use it as our trump card whenever we need a little leverage in a dispute. But what an opportunity we miss when we keep score!
Isaiah 35:3: Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
This verse isn’t hard to understand how to apply -- is your honey worn out? Find a way to tangibly come along side him or her to give encouragement and strength to them. Maybe it is some time away from the responsibilities of life, a shoulder rub, making and cleaning up dinner or just listening to them process life.
1 Thessalonians 5:11: Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Use words that build your spouse up in love and truth!
Hebrews 3:13: But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Keep encouraging your spouse! Don’t get weary of it because we all need it!
One of the other ways we can comfort our spouse (and my hubby thought of this) is through sexual intimacy. Now, just for fun, I want to share his thought process with you.
I asked him if he knew of any good comfort verses that applied directly to marriage, since the ones above pertained to the general Christian life.
He said, “God made Adam and Eve naked in the garden.”
“So, nakedness is comfort?” I responded with a little doubt because I was looking for a direct word correlation.
“Yes. They were comfortable being naked -- so comfortable, comfort -- that works!”
Not only were Adam and Eve partaking in physical intimacy, but there was no part of their physical, emotional, or spiritual union that held the slightest hint of uncomfortableness. They were free to be open and vulnerable with each other. Marriage was designed to be a completely safe relationship.
Think about how you can direct your relationship toward its design as you interact with your spouse. And enjoy God’s design for marital intimacy along the way! However the Lord moves your heart to apply these truths to your marriage, I am praying that God opens your eyes to new opportunities to proactively comfort, encourage and strengthen your sweetheart!
Just for fun here's a sweet way to encourage your spouse. (PS- sorry these photos are kinda lame... it wasn't a fun photo day, just a get 'er done photo day!)
|Here's my final product - It's an "I love you" board :) Fun way to tell your sweetheart that you love and appreciate them - and tell them often!|
If you like the idea, but don't feel all that crafty about it, then you can download a background here)
|These are the supplies you'll need: 1 8x10 frame, scrapbook paper of your choosing, scissors, pretty ribbon, fun letters and a dry erase marker (mine has an eraser at the end and a magnetic strip - kinda cool :) )|
|Cut your paper 4x10|
|I decided I wanted to say "I love you" on one side of the paper and "I'm thankful for you" on the other so I cut paper for the front and back to make the sign reversible|
|I glued the paper right onto the photo paper included in the frame|
|Next add your letters and ribbon|
|Ta-da! Well, almost! I couldn't decide where to put the buttons, so I ended up gluing them on the glass, three of them right along the ribbon|
|I put the guts of the sign in the frame upside down so that when I closed the back of the frame the folded (rather than open part of the picture opening) was at the top. I slipped my ribbon in the back and then closed it up. Tied a bow at the top and it was ready to go :)|