One of my favorite things to do is exercise. In fact those who know me well know that as I don’t joke with my spiritual walk, I also don’t joke with my physical fitness. But as much as I enjoy challenging my body, one part that I didn’t used to enjoy was stretching! I actually used to dread it so much. Then I began to learn about the benefits of stretching and what it does to the body, and since then I have never looked back. I take it as seriously as my workouts and I enjoy it a whole lot more. So much so that I stretch even when I am not working out! I have learnt however that it’s not just our bodies that need to be stretched. We can be stretched in every area of our lives, even in our relationships and marriages. I got this light one day, while engaging in a post workout stretch; I thought to myself that I will like to know the proper definition of stretching so once I could, I looked it up in various ways and one definition that stuck to me was this – being capable of lengthening without tearing or breaking! Once I read it, one thought came to my mind – MARRIAGE! I thought to myself ‘it’s true, marriage stretches us’! Why? Well because we have to be patient (even when we would rather not be). We have to have self-control (even when we would rather speak our minds as we please). We have to love unconditionally (hhhmm). We have to compromise (even when we would prefer that the marriage revolves around us). The list is endless. We have to be willing to stretch, to lengthen, to grow; and we must do them all – without breaking! Just like with the physical stretch, it may not be enjoyable BUT I have learnt that if I want to build the type of marriage that God has in mind, I have to lay my will down a lot and take up God’s will – I have to stretch myself! To many, doing all that is much too stressful and doesn’t sound appealing; they would rather not do it, but I believe it is because they don’t really know or understand the benefits of doing so. Physically, stretching can be so rewarding; some of the benefits include flexibility, increased blood flow to the muscles, and increased range of motion in the joints. One of the greatest benefits of stretching in marriage is the opportunity to grow in our Christian walk. It is also very exciting and rewarding to go through life with another person even if it means having to learn how to be less self-centered!! As I continue to take stretching as serious as my workouts, I have not stopped seeing great improvements, and I keep reminding myself that anything that stretches me will always bring out the best in me. We can either whine and groan about it, or use it as an opportunity to become better. The same way we allow our careers, our academics, etc. to challenge us and we are determined to give it our best to get the best, let’s do the same with our marriages. Single or married? Male or female? Imagine how our marriages would be if we decide to give it our very best, if we decide to stretch just a little bit more? Don’t be conformed to this world, renew your mind concerning the type of family life you are entitled to as a Christian (Romans 12:2), walk in that light and do all you can to make it a reality with the grace and the tools God has made available to you! Be willing to S-T-R-E-T-C-H – Spirit. Soul. And Body. And be ready to do so without breaking!