While studying for my Master degree at the University of Dallas I really enjoyed the subjects I was studying because they were intellectual candy for me. But, I knew, as every theology student should, that if it didn't transform my life, then it was of no value to me personally. It was at this time that I first encountered the Theology of the Body, and I loved it, at least intellectually. It provided me with insights into God, humanity, my own destiny, and more that I hadn't had previously. To sum it up - I am made to be a gift of self to others - just as God is an infinite gift of self to all of us. This was a wake up call for me. It lead me to examine many areas of my life and question many aspects of my relationships, one in particular:
**Was I really living my life as a gift for my wife or was it all about me?**
This resulted in my first 30-day challenge. I decided to love my wife as she wanted me to love her, which wasn't the way I wanted to love her. She wanted me to do little acts of service for her (e.g. wash the dishes, help bath the kids, clean up messes, etc.). I, on the other hand, wanted to love her by being affectionate and telling her nice things. Of course, this is the way I want to be loved, not necessarily the way she wants to be loved. So, while my intent was decent, I was going about loving my wife in the wrong ways.
For 30 days I challenged myself to love Kristy as she wanted me to. At the end of the 30 days, and ever since, our marriage was transformed. We stopped arguing over house work. I started to appreciate how much she did for me. She knew more deeply that I loved her because I was willing to change for her sake and love her as she wanted me to.
This leads me to my second 30-day challenge.
I have noticed recently that with 5 little kids it is easy to get upset and raise my voice, this (of course) teaches my kids that to solve a problem you need to raise your voice and have an angry tone. While it is sometimes quicker to stop a misbehavior or an argument by raising my voice, it isn't better. Thus, my second 30-day challenge is not to raise my voice at my kids. This doesn't mean I am not still strict or that I don't punish them. It does mean I have to think and not just react. I have to be intentional in how I approach my kids.
I am only about a week in, and haven't been perfect at it, but I have noticed that I am much more aware of when I start to get agitated or frustrated.
If it is anything like the first 30-day challenge, I hope it transforms the way I parent.
DISCLAIMER - my 30-day challenge came way before the Fireproof 40-day challenge, which I will grant is a much more Biblical number.
DISCLAIMER #2 - The extended version of my first challenge appears in my new book, which will be released in late September.
Please pray for me as I continue to try and work with God's grace at changing my bad habits and growing in being a gift of self to my family and others. I sure do need as much prayer as I can get.