Trading Negativity for Joy

Alexandra Arndt

God's Lesson for Me

We met in middle school. I was a talkative bookworm who didn't know the first thing about fashionable clothing, and he was a tall, gangly, classical music nerd who enjoyed doing homework. We were friends from the start. By high school, I knew he had a crush on me, and I spent the next few years waffling back and forth about my feelings for him. All our friends and even some of our teachers would make little jokes about us getting married someday, but that didn't change our friendship. He was a constant in my life throughout high school and even into college. We always had plenty to talk about, and I always enjoyed being around him.

It was no surprise to anyone when we started dating at age twenty and got engaged soon after. People would tell us they'd known all along, and that we were perfect together. And we were.

We've been married for four years, and I still think we're perfect together. But that doesn't mean everything in our relationship is perfect. Everyone has quirks and flaws, and it's easy to let those things get under our skin. I am often guilty of that. In fact, for quite a while I let those small annoyances build up until I was very easily frustrated with my husband. When he left his socks on the floor or didn't put his dishes in the sink, I'd think, "Seriously? He can't just put these away?" Or "Why doesn't he ever do anything to help me out?" I was focusing on the things about him that bothered me, and soon those were the only things I thought about him. Small things that shouldn't have been a big deal became giant frustrations for me. I quickly found that this is not an enjoyable way to live, let alone the way to a genuine, loving relationship.

At some point along the way, Philippians 4:8 stood out to me.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

I was focusing on the wrong things. I started asking, "Does he do anything worthy of praise? Anything lovely? What are the good things about my husband that I should be thinking about?" When I shifted my perspective this way, I was amazed by what I noticed. I saw my husband playing with our kids- building block towers, starting tickle fights, and introducing them to his favorite cartoons. I saw his passion for defending his faith, and his desire to learn more about apologetics by reading books and going to conferences. I saw how hard he works at his job, even taking his own free time to research and discover ways to be better at what he does. I saw how gracious, understanding, and faithful he is with me. He listens to me, counsels me, and is there for me, whatever I need.

Changing Perspectives: A Lesson for All of Us

God has blessed me with an amazing husband, and once I started looking, I noticed!

Changing how I look at things has been such an encouragement to me and a help to my marriage. Every area of life has flaws and frustrations, but God asks us to notice the good and focus on it. When I started paying attention to the good qualities in my husband, I began to praise God for him more often. This has led to more joy in my relationship, but also more joy in the One who gave me this relationship. Intentionally meditating on the good things in our lives should bring us more joy in our Savior!

Look around! Are there any good things in your life? Notice them and praise God, the Giver of those good gifts!

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Alexandra is married to her high school sweetheart Tim and mama to MaryKate and Oliver. She earned her Bachelors in Music from Cornerstone University and enjoys teaching piano lessons and leading worship at ABC. When she's not wrangling her active littles, she's probably drinking a latte or rearranging her living room. Again.

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