“I hear what you’re saying but do you hear what I’m saying?”
“Yes, but I don’t think you understand.”
“What don’t I understand? How can you say that? ... It’s you that doesn’t understand.”
“That’s not fair.”
“Oh, now I’m the one not being fair? I’ve told you so many times, I don’t want you to load the dishwasher.”
It’s funny when its someone else. And yes, the story above really is one of the milder disagreements I had with my wife. Unfortunately, that’s how it often goes. Two people discussing who is more right, or at least defending themselves to the death that they are not the one in the wrong. Like a bus, our marriages seem to stop at these familiar places on a regular basis. And all too often, when one of us is getting off the bus, the other is getting on.
There is always far more going on in any conversation between two people than just their opinions. All of it is intensified in marriage. Look at all the stuff a couple brings down the aisle with them on that special day, their wedding day. It is an extensive list of “his” and “hers” baggage. There is his personal history and her personal history; his parents’ marriage, and her parents’ marriage; where he finds his worth, value, and acceptance, and where she finds hers. Not to mention his views on intimacy and hers. Bringing these two Image Bearers into alignment? Good luck.
But what if the person you married is actually two persons? Let’s say a True Self and a False Self? The True Self is that part of us that is on the side of God, who is the Christ follower and who is on a journey of becoming more and more like Him. The false is more of an “it” than a “me.” And yet, it will impersonate me at every turn. The false self is that part of me that is self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-promoting and, above all else, self-protecting. That’s a lot of “self,” and that is exactly what the false self has to work with: a lot of false stuff. It has been formed over the years of both the masculine and feminine journeys. It takes notes on how to live, and implements strategies through a collection of false beliefs that have been accumulated over time. These false beliefs, lies, invite a person to live in the center of the story … and therefore they live in a very small story. In a word, the only good thing good about the false self is just that, it’s false!
When any two people meet, I would wager it is more a person’s True Self that has the wheel. In the early hours, days and weeks of a relationship we are patient and kind, caring and listening, wanting to understand and willing to make allowances for how the other person feels. Sure, some bad motives can get added to the mix but that is exactly where we are being invited to go with God.
The question is, just how much of that True Self is there six months in, twelve months, three years? Satan and his kingdom of darkness, the enemy of all relationships, and especially marriage, doesn’t mind giving way to the True Self for several months in the dating and engagement process. He knows he’ll eventually have his day. Darkness knows that at some point they can and will deploy their creatures, the false self, and, soon enough, be able to wreak havoc on love. The promises of “I do,” become threats and agreements of “I’ll never,” or “I’ll always.” Make no mistake, the false self is a very powerful force to be reckoned with … until it’s not. Both “always” and “never” are very helpful clues if you know what to do when they finally come up in the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom, or on vacation, holidays, or even just the routine of the day-to-day. There’s nothing routine about the day-to-day when you live in the greatest of love stories amidst the fiercest of battles. The false self creature is real, and everyone has one. It’s standard when you get a new nature in Christ. The old nature becomes this thing Paul called the flesh or “false self,” and now the rivalry is on between who we were and who we now are. Rivalry is actually a good thing. Like what Paul talks about in Romans 7, the things I want to do I don’t and the things I don’t want to do I do and the rest of all that. Being aware of this rivalry within is huge step to fighting a battle you have already won. Paul is talking about this creature at work in him but that isn’t him … the false self/flesh.
Through the wild love of God, a new man and woman, a true man or woman finally shows up and all the self ways are going to be invited to give way to who a man or a woman truly is in the Kingdom. But be warned, the false self won’t give up without a fight. Marriage is an incredible place. It’s supposed to be a safe place to see all of that transformation worked out. My wife is in my life to teach me how to love and to partner with God to help me become who I truly am. Just like I am to be in her life. Among two believers that are married there are four possible scenarios of engagement, of interaction, or of relating. All four scenarios are between two people’s false self (Fs) and True Self (Ts) …
HIS Fs Fs Ts Ts
HERS Fs Ts Fs Ts
Quick question, how many of these scenarios are bad and how many are good?
Another way to ask might be, three out of the four of these are what?
And so often there lies the problem. Most people say three out of four are bad. Why? Because we are trained to be focused on sin and false rather than focused on our good and true. We need to understand how the Kingdom of God works and how the kingdom of darkness is maneuvering. The false self is darkness’s ticket to using someone to steal, kill and destroy. Our enemy, the kingdom of darkness, is hell bent on constructing, maintaining, and deploying a person’s false self to do their bidding. So, someone’s false self will always attempt to provoke someone else’s false self! God has a better plan. A True Self can also summon and invite another’s True Self. Three out of four of the scenarios are good! The True Self always has a chance!
I wonder how many of us have slept on the couch or let the sun go down on our anger because of our own false self or our spouse’s. I’ve often wondered how many people ultimately divorce their spouse’s false self.
This is one reason we created The Rendezvous Project. If this thing called marriage was simple, we wouldn’t have the unhappiness, the pain, or the number of casualties that we do. If over half of marriages end in divorce, and of the half that remain, half of them aren’t doing well, then we aren’t learning from our mistakes and history … we’re repeating them.
There is a better way and you are invited to explore more at www.therendezvousproject.com or go to our podcast, The Exploring More podcast and listen in on some marriages sharing how their journey with God to becoming wholehearted has not only been the best gift they could give themselves but the best gift they could give to the person they promised to love.