Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lent, fingernails, and marriage

     I am a lifelong nail biter, but I'm giving it up for Lent.  Now, in my last post (which you can read here), I recommended that for Lent couples do something together, something for the benefit of their marriage and their joint participation in the Kingdom of God.  Giving up biting my nails is for my marriage and is for my participation with Lisa in the Kingdom of God, and here’s why.
     I’m a compulsive nail biter. I bite my nails without thinking.  I don’t do it out of nervousness, or anxiety.  I do it out of boredom; something to fill the time.  But I’ve done it out of boredom for so long that I do it without even thinking about it.  I normally don’t even realize I’m doing it, until someone points it out.
     So, if I bite my nails habitually, without even really realizing I’m doing it, what other things am I doing without a second thought?  Do I say things to Lisa without thinking about what I’m really saying?  Do I do things “just because,” and never realize the impact those actions (no matter how great or how small) are having on my wife, or on our pursuit of God in our relationship?  Do I allow myself to be content with what we do together in the Kingdom of God because it’s easier to do so than it is to challenge us to break out of our comfort zone and trust God?
     Not biting my nails is about intentionality.  Right now, it is actually harder for me to not bite my nails than it is to bite them.  I constantly catch myself moving my hand toward my mouth, and I have to stop myself from going through a rote action that really doesn’t help or bless me in any way.  I have to recognize I can’t bite my nails because, “that’s just what I do.”  I have to stop making excuses, justifying, and rationalizing why it’s easier to not worry about biting my nails.  There has to be more of a purpose to my thoughts and actions than that.  And I want that same sense of purpose, dedication to being intentional, and thoughtfulness to affect even the most miniscule areas of my marriage—no matter how seemingly inconsequential.
     If you’re a nail biter, I’m not getting on to you, or telling you that you have to quit.  This may not be your avenue to a better marriage and better service in the Kingdom of God.  But for me, over the 40 days of Lent, it’s a way to “take captive every thought” (2 Cor. 10:5) so that I can be more intentional in blessing my wife and more intentional to awakening myself to God’s call for our marriage.

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