Blinded by Boundaries

I want to show grace to my husband.

Really, I do.
But it’s not that simple. You know … what if, let’s say, I come upon my husband’s abandoned shoes and jacket in a heap on the floor!?*
What? … Am I supposed to just pick them up and “enable” him to continue to treat me as his personal maid service? When will he ever learn how to pick up after himself, if I’m always doing it for him?
Oh yeah, and then there’s my husband’s perfect timing on asking me to get him a drink or snack after I’ve just sat down to relax, all the while he sits perched like a king atop his throne.*
Does he really think that I should just … serve him like some bubble-gum popping waitress? So, would you like some fries with that shake?
I don’t think so!!!!
Well, for many years I’ve thought of this as just plain, good “boundary-setting.” But lately, God has challenged me to not look at these kinds of situations through the microscope of boundaries and justice, but through the kaleidoscope of grace.
Remember how Jesus responded to his disciples at the Last Supper?* It was the custom in that day for the guest to have his feet washed by the host, since their sandled feet would be dry and dusty from the arid, sandy roads they traveled.
But none of Jesus’ disciples thought about doing that gracious act of service for their Lord and Savior. Instead, he was the one who took off his outer clothing, wrapping himself in a towel like that of a humble house servant. Then going around to each disciple, he tenderly, lovingly washed their feet.
Jesus the King of Kings, the Savior of the World, the Almighty One served.
He wasn’t concerned about what his disciples’ role really was or should be. He wasn’t concerned that he would be “enabling” them to rely on others to wash their feet next time.
He simply wanted to serve out of the grace and love that he had for his disciples.
And instead of condemning them for their thoughtlessness, or instead of trying to make them do as he did, he inspired them with His gracious and humble heart.
I want to learn to serve my husband with the same grace and forgiveness that my Savior showed and still shows to you and me today.
And maybe, just maybe, it won’t matter how messy the house is or who does what, because I’ll have a new view of my husband and he of me. God’s grace will reveal a kaleidoscope of colors that I had missed—we had missed—for much too long in our marriage.
And the kaleidoscope of God’s grace can make your messy marriage beautiful too.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:5-7 (NIV)
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Ephesians 2:3-4 (NIV)
* Please know that I’ve taken artistic license and exaggerated my husband’s foibles for humorous effect. But even if he was the worst husband in the world, he’d still need me to show God’s grace to him. One more thing, he has read this post and graciously signed off, so that you, our messy marriage audience, can see the very real challenges we all face in marriage.

*John 13:1-10

Today’s Post is Linked to – 


  1. Justice vs Grace kicks me in the teeth sometimes. In the olden days before we had an Ice Maker, we used trays, and I got so irritated when ONE cube would be left so SOMEONE didn’t have to fill them up. I used to get so irritated. Then God punched me with the fact that it took three seconds to fill up an ice tray. As it turns out, exchanging those 3 seconds to fill it up for letting go of this little, but significant resentment was a TOTAL BARGAIN. Thanks Beth

  2. messymarriage says:

    I don’t think I’ve minded “doing” things for Gary as much as, fearing that he’ll take advantage of me, or worse, never take responsibility in the future. Clearly, I have some “trust” issues that I’ve hidden behind “boundaries” to conceal. I’m excited to not have that noose around our necks from now on.

  3. Thanks for this post and for linking up with NOBH. I’ve found so much in life that if we are serving others we have to die to ourselves and our wants. But we are laying up treasure in heaven when we do!

  4. Lisa Maria says:

    Oh Beth, I laughed at this one.. I can SO relate and yes.. I agree wholeheartedly with you. I struggle daily to see my husband (and his messy ways and quirks) through the kaleidoscope of God’s grace.. love that metaphor.

    Thanks for a great reminder!

    God bless

  5. messymarriage says:

    It so good to know I’m not the only one who struggles in this way. Thanks so much for stopping by and “laughing!” 🙂

  6. lindseyfoj says:

    Oh…I love this challenge! How often I have felt this way myself!!

    And this line……kaleidoscope of grace…..breathtaking!

  7. I love…love…love this…oh the microscope of boundaries and justice… I have lived this one…not so much with my husband but others around me….how that has been by lens….I too am seeing through the kaleidoscope of grace…the world around me looks so different…so thankful for the Grace I have been shown….I want to share that Grace with others…
    Blessings and may we enjoy the colors of grace today….

  8. wellllll, Gary is a slacker. (J/K). Looking forward to his message this weekend! Love you Guys!

  9. messymarriage says:

    Yes, I like that – “enjoying the colors of grace!” I will certainly join you in that pursuit! Thanks for all of your kind words and for stopping by!

  10. messymarriage says:

    So sweet of you to day. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only one! Thanks so much for stopping by and encouraging me!

  11. messymarriage says:

    Thanks, Stefanie! You’re right about “dying to ourselves” – but when I die to Christ, it’s a beautiful death. Oh, how I need to do it more!

  12. messymarriage says:

    We love you and your whole family too. And we’re so blessed that you let us peak into your most intimate moments!

  13. I love this line: “And the kaleidoscope of God’s grace can make your messy marriage beautiful too.”

    And this: “And instead of condemning them for their thoughtlessness, or instead of trying to make them do as he did, he inspired them with His gracious and humble heart.” Romans 8:1 comes to mind!

  14. Angela_Mackey says:

    Oh that we would serve others out of our love for God…Thanks for this reminder.

  15. this really struck a chord with me friend. i am not the most gracious of wives. thank you for challenging me, as you always do. and with such gentleness too 🙂 xo

  16. messymarriage says:

    I’m so glad that it struck a chord, Emily. That’s so good because I know I’m not alone in this struggle AND your real and authentic sharing makes me love you all the more! Thanks again for your constant encouragement!

  17. messymarriage says:

    You’re very welcome.

  18. messymarriage says:

    Your sweet words are so encouraging to me Caroline! And you’re right, Romans 8:1 would work perfectly there too! Thanks for saying.