We had friends that were going to stay the night with us recently. A couple of days before they arrived, I asked my husband to pick up some of the clothes he had laying around in the guest room.
“You got it!” he replied.
He worked late that day, and the clothes didn’t get touched. As the day came to a close I thought, “Are you serious? I asked him to do ONE thing, while I’m cleaning the rest of the entire house!”
The anger, the pride, and the impatience began boiling over. You could basically hear the sizzle of the water hitting the surface of my hot heart.
Then, I recalled an idea from Bob Goff’s new book, Everybody Always:
“I’ve been trying to actually obey Jesus for thirty seconds at a time” … “I try to love the person in front of me the way Jesus did for the next thirty seconds.”
This may sound crazy, but just before I snapped at Ryan, I literally paused for thirty seconds and tried to recall what His word says about love and relationships.
The internal conversation went something like this…
“Okay, Caitlin. Love is patient (1 Cor. 13:4), and smarting off to Ryan right now would not be patient. What else does Jesus say about relationships? He says we should forgive each other as the Lord has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). He also says that it is to his glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11) and that we should rid our mouths of anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk (Col. 3:8).”
Before I knew it, thirty seconds had passed and my anger had cooled off. I let it slide for the evening, and I asked him very calmly the next morning… “Hey, I know you are super busy this week, but it would help me out a lot if you could pick up the guest room at some point today.”
The room was cleaned, an argument was avoided, and nothing got in the way of our love for each other that weekend like some silly tension over an uncleaned room.
While these little arguments may not destroy your marriage, they will, over time, harden your heart toward your spouse. Would you give thirty seconds to God for the sake of saving your future relationship with your husband or wife? I think so.
I’ve been trying this “30-second obedience to God’s Word” tactic for the last couple of weeks, and let me tell you, it is truly life-changing. It has not only sweetened my marriage, it has kept me from gossiping in conversations with girlfriends, and it has helped me make healthier decisions throughout my day. I’ve even shared this with a few friends, and they have since texted me, “It works!”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not necessarily a quick fix to disobedience. We still need to spend time meditating on God’s Word to actually know what it says and to store it in our hearts when temptations come. It’s also going to take repetition and practice. There have been plenty of missed moments where I looked back on a conversation or a decision and thought, “Man, should have counted to thirty.”
Many of us truly desire to obey God’s word, but when your spouse upsets you, when your co-worker offends you, when a friend is gossiping to you, or when your child continues to disobey you, those split decisions you make can quickly lead you into sin and disobedience.
Though, all of these tiny, seemingly insignificant decisions we are making become our life. And if we want to live a life marked by obedience to God’s Word, if we want our marriage to honor and glorify the Lord, and if we want to reflect the love of Jesus to our spouse and to others, we have to go against what our flesh desires at that moment and choose the way that ultimately leads to life.
We have to slow down before we respond. We have to assume that our initial reaction or response is not always right.
Give it a try and tell me how it goes. If you fail, try it again. If you need longer than thirty seconds, start counting again once you get to thirty. We are called to love, to forgive and to extend grace to our spouses. Keep doing all of that over and over again. If you do, I have a feeling others will notice your love and grace toward each other and wonder why your marriage looks so different than the rest of the relationships in the world.
God will be glorified in your marriage, thirty seconds at a time.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22
Caitlin Jordan is the assistant editor for TheCourage. She lives with her husband, Ryan, in Dallas, Texas. She is passionate about the importance of transparency and loving those that disagree with Christian beliefs. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.