“It’s through perseverance that we produce a crop.”
Gary Thomas reminds us that in order to grow in maturity, build intimacy in marriage, or overcome an addiction, we need to add perseverance to our faith.
“We can have a relationship that has grown distant or that is growing frustrating. But it is as we persevere in doing the right things that we slowly grow back together.”
This is exactly what science is now telling us. Gary uses the term neuroplasticity to describe it.
“Our brains are literally shaped by our decisions. We physiologically shape our brains; it’s the power behind addictions. It’s the power behind muscle memory when we’re learning to play an instrument.”
Suppose you’re leaving work or church and pull into your driveway. Suddenly, you realize you didn’t make a single conscious decision during the whole drive home. That process is an example of neuroplasticity. It’s become so familiar that your brain shuts off and goes on “auto-pilot.” The habit of driving the same road each day has created a groove in your brain that your mind automatically follows. The same is true of marriage.
“We have to learn how to do the right habits that lead to intimacy. We create those grooves in our brain that lead us toward each other instead of away from each other.”
We can create grooves in our brain to retreat from relationships instead of moving toward them. If we read the newspaper instead of processing something stressful, we’re creating a groove. If a woman calls her mom in the midst of a conflict with her husband, that will set her up to pull away from him in more difficult times.
Perseverance naturally strengthens both our faith and our marriage. Gary explains why,
“I just found in Scripture that what I need to grow as a believer is also what I need to grow as a husband. So the more I grow in perseverance, I become more like Christ as a believer and I become closer to my wife as a husband. The two realities lift each other up in a way that only God can design.”
Key Scriptures: 2 Peter 1:5