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 So Much Yet To Learn

   Sometimes I feel very discouraged because I realize there is so much for me yet to learn. I complain, I feel irritated, and then the Holy Spirit gently reminds me that my attitude needs improving. I hear Him, because I so desire to improve, and I am listening.

   But I even feel impatient, that so many things need improving in my character, even after all these years! Why can't I be a wonderful, patient, sweet wife every day! I thought that loving my husband would be enough, and I do love him so very much, but it doesn't ensure my success. I try so hard, and have tried so long! How could I still have so far to go!

   However, this morning, a new insight encouraged me.

   People don't become skilled, specialized surgeons as soon as they walk in the Kindergarten doors with their mothers, and get registered as students! Certainly, they are now members of a school which will lead to other schools, which could eventually guide them to that place, but it would take decades of studying.

   Why then, would we think that as soon as we are led to the Lord by our mothers, or whoever God brings into our lives to lead us, and are saved, and accepted into the family of God, we would automatically know all that He has to teach us!

   No, learning is something that never ends. It is a positive thing, when a person desires to continue learning. Not only in human skills, but in spiritual knowledge. Particularly in spiritual issues, because they are issues that our Heavenly Father wants us to work on.

   For most of my life, I have worked on the spiritual issues regarding parenting. Patience, fairness, self control and others. But now I am faced with a new challenge. The spiritual issues regarding being a wife. Yes, I still need patience, fairness and self control, but oh, I need such a variety of other things now. Tolerance for the other person's differences; acceptance for the other person's attitudes; restraint from saying negative things when I disagree with the way the other person does things.

   People joke about being irritated as newlyweds, by the way their new spouse squeezes the toothpaste tube, leaves their dirty socks on the floor, or does not cook the things they wish for. But these, and many more, can sincerely be trials. It is like the pre-school of self control. A person has to choose either to gripe, or to quietly put up with the things which grate upon them.

   The biggest lesson is that one CAN NOT change the other person. They can only change themselves. It is possible that the other person may love or respect their spouse enough to change themselves in some areas. But no one can change another adult. When I married the first time, at seventeen, I was not aware of this at all. It was a difficult and frustrating lesson for me. At least I have now learned that one well. I should hope so, by fifty-three!

   The better a person learns to put up with the small things, the easier it will be to continue loving your spouse as bigger things come along with the years.

   Later, it might be a disagreement in how to raise a child; differences in the things you enjoy doing and places you enjoy going to; or changes in intimacy, and the needs of one growing apart from the needs of the other.

   But whether the subject is marriage, or any other under the sun, learning to cope gracefully is something that takes a lifetime to learn. At least for me.

   I was ungraciously thinking last night that if only I were a robot, I would never do anything that displeased my dear husband. I would never long for anything he didn't want to give. That was self pity talking, and I knew it. That was the enemy feeding me his diet of poisonous thoughts, which he tries so hard to make me eat.

   Ah, but God did not make me a robot, and of course, I would not want to be one. He blessed me with excellent skills in many areas, and created me with a clear lack of skills in other areas, sometimes really crucial emotional ones. Some of these gaps have been honest disabilities for me. They have also been opportunities for me to grow in grace, and to spend a lot of time on my knees, asking for help, guidance, and forgiveness.

   God gave me deep and passionate longings for some things, and a sincere patience to cheerfully do without others. Also He gave me the choice of whether to control, or not control my own behavior, though learning HOW to control it was a long lesson.

   Like the following verse explains, just as newborn babies hunger desperately for milk, so they may survive and grow; we hunger for Jesus to teach us the ability to lose our negative qualities, so that we may live a Christ-like life, and grow in Him. We are directed to desire the Word, in order to grow spiritually - it is not a suggestion, it is a command. It is, you see, the only way to grow. It is the best way that the Holy Spirit communicates with us.

    * As newborn babes, DESIRE the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. 1 Peter 2:2

   God also gave me a deep yearning to follow Him, and improve my character. The lessons started out small, and I learned little by little. Jesus knew exactly how much I was able to absorb, at each point in my life. And at first, it wasn't very much.

    * I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 1 Cor. 3:2

   But there comes a time for those who really want to please God, that He uses what we have learned so far, to prepare our spirits, and begins, through the Holy Spirit, to teach us some heavy duty lessons. The deeper we study, the more we realize that we do not know. Studying anything is this way, and spiritual learning is no exception. As the years pass, my comprehension grows, and my lessons become more complex. God is precise and direct when He begins to feed us spiritual "meat".

    * Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 1 Peter 2:1

   When I screech to a halt, and consider the magnitude of the words in this tiny verse, which guide us toward a closer walk with Christ, I am stunned. There is a lifetime of learning right there. But if we long to please the Lord, we will work on it all of our lives.

   Jesus Christ used such excellent analogies. He did that, of course, because we understand them. He used parables, probably because we learn better when we think we have figured something out ourselves. If someone tries to force something down our throats, or yell at us and bully us, we tend to reject it just as vehemently. Jesus knew our human qualities perfectly. He spoke gently, and wisely, through illustrations and reasonings. He spoke in love and compassion; and lived what He spoke.

   He continues today through His Word to speak to us, in the way we learn the best. He captured the hearts, and moved the spirits of countless thousands while He was on earth; and untold millions or trillions, by now, as He continues His work with His people.

   Therein lies our hope. My hope. Some day I want to believe that I am a good wife. I have to fight against the enemy's constant taunting, telling me that I am never good enough. It is not God's will that we despise ourselves. Nor, of course, should we think we are the greatest!

   My Heavenly Father will help me to fight against that insecurity and sense of failure. He will encourage me as I make my tiny advancements of growth in Him. Oh, how I praise Him, for all the time and care He uses, in continuing to teach me what He wants me to learn!

   I want to learn. I love to learn. My spirit especially loves to learn God's lessons. The enemy, on the other hand, hates it when we draw closer to God. It is a tremendous threat to him of course, because it moves us farther away from him, and his chances to injure us, influence us, and cause us to move away from God, which is his major goal in this world.

   Dear Heavenly Father, my own, my treasured Savour, how I praise You for your incomprehensible, immeasurable love for me, infinite patience for me, endless belief in me! How I thank You for seeing beyond my failures, my sins, and, forgiving them, move me onward, leaving them behind, and holding my hand in Yours. Oh, thank You! In Jesus' precious name, Amen.

2005 Rosemary Gwaltney