After God, there remains a person competing for my attention that is not my wife.
This person and I would spend a lot of time together.
I found myself thinking of this person before I thought of anyone else.
Basically, I had a love affair…
What I mean is… I loved myself, and I thought only about myself.
I worshiped the unholy trinity: Me, Myself, and I.
THE LOW TIMES
Looking back on it now, I marvel at the irony.
As self-centered as I was, I still felt unloved. What I understood to be love while growing up was a perversion of the truth. I thought I was valuable only when other people told me so.
I had to impress people. I had to be famous. If all eyes were on me, only then would I feel loved. Only then, when I could be happy. It was all about me.
I cared too much about what other people thought of me. When people complimented me, I would turn down their gesture with a false flash of humility. “Hey, look at me, rejecting your praise. Am I not the bomb?”
In college, my college roommate and friends kept this running joke with me. Whenever my roommate received an honor in academics, for instance, he would tell me, “Hey, guess what the university president’s claim to fame is?… She just shook the hand of Kevin Kukla’s roommate!”
I felt so bad about myself that we made it a game. We found excuses to make a big deal out of me. It was a funny attempt to try to make me feel better. I needed the help, because I was depressed.
LEARNING MY TRUE IDENTITY HELPED
I am a child of God (Rom 8:16). I am forgiven (Eph 1:7). I am a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).
These verses and others I memorized while in college. Christ finally got through to me to show me I belonged to Him. He died for me and He wanted me to live for Him.
This surely helped. But it was not enough.
WHEN MY EGO WAS SENTENCED TO DIE
Then the impossible happened.
A woman fell in love with me for who I am. She loved me unconditionally. She taught me about Christ’s love.
It was flattering, to say the least. She put up with me and was patient with me. She went out of her way to do things to make me happy. A concept I never really understood until then.
She would cook me wonderful meals. She would patiently listen to me ramble on—I can be a talker! This woman accepted me for who I was.
I wasn’t going to let her go. I chose to marry her. Over six years later, I remain happily married to my wonderful bride, Milissa.
My ego was sweating now. My self-worship was on high alert. Alarms were going on in my head.
I had to die to self. I had to move aside. This woman was now under my headship and I was put in charge of getting her to Heaven.
THE LOVE AFFAIR WOULD TEMPT ME
She asked me to put the toilet seat down. She wanted me to make the bed. I wasn’t enjoying being told what to do.
Then she wanted me to tell her sweet things and she asked me to pay close attention to her moods. If she felt sad, she wanted me to express empathy. When she was happy she wanted me to be happy for her and smile with her.
It may sound so simple, but this did not come easy to me. Why was I expected to pay attention to her? It was so much work to guess what she needed.
Figuring out what she needed me to do in order to be happy—like an occasional shoulder rub, or a certain dessert after dinner, or flowers—meant I didn’t have as much time to spend thinking about my unholy trinity.
I rebelled at times. I resisted what was happening. She was teaching me what love was, and I was slow to catch on.
THE DEATH KNELL
Having kids sure changes you. It forces you to become a better person.
It’s 3 a.m. and the little one needs a diaper change. It’s dinner time and your food has gone cold, because the child needs consoling. It’s 8 p.m., so it’s already time to leave the friends’ house, because it’s already past the baby’s bedtime.
And so it goes as a parent.
But then you see your baby smile at you, and you melt. You see her laugh and you want to capture that moment for all eternity. You realize it is all worth it.
You become so preoccupied with the child, you lose most your free time. When you add more children, the demands on your time grow little by little.
Then one day, I remember pouring a drink of milk for one of my children, without her even asking for it. When I gave it to her, her face lit up. She thanked me for it and slurped it down.
Something clicked in my head. I just made an act of love that had been so foreign to me before having my wife and kids. Something I did for one of them, purely out of my desire to please them, made them happy.
Forget what I wanted or needed. It didn’t matter what I had time for or didn’t. She would be happy with a cup of milk, and I gave it to her.
As I soon learned by having children, I am not left with much time to pay homage to me. My unholy trinity has been neglected.
This is how I can say my wife and children make me a better person. They taught me what love is.
Love is sacrifice. Love is self-denial. Love is thinking of yourself less often. Love is putting others’ needs ahead of your own.
As a husband and father, I am forced to do this. It is not always easy, but I do my best.
I want no part of my love affair… with myself.
Can anyone else relate?
How has your marriage made you a better person?
Please sound off below!
This all reminds me of a song by MercyMe, called “So Long Self.” Enjoy!