Monday, November 23, 2015

Truth About Marriage

Some days it is just oh so clear why serial divorce is a thing.

It's easier to fall in love than it is to stay in love.

The rewards of falling in love are like fizzy beverages... tingling and fresh. They go down smooth and leave you heady and breathless.

The rewards of staying in love are different. A bit heavy. They're the matching scars you bear from healing side by side. Tinged with salt and grit and bound up wounds and the rust stains of iron wills that say, "I'm here. I'm not leaving." Less glamorous. More gracious.

Falling in love is full of possibility and bravery and chance and newness. No one has yet been disappointed. No one has failed for the 100th time. Faith may have been dashed once, but it hasn't yet been dashed into oblivion over and over against the rocks of unchangeable human nature and stubbornness. He hasn't been beaten by cruel life. She hasn't been soured by frustrated aspirations. All is hope.

Oh, but staying in love... Staying in love is a long, slow road where possibility often disappoints, and hope often tarnishes under trials. Where life's brutality molds hopers into something they never planned to be. Where we become so accustomed to the things we love about each other that we take them for granted, and only the things that drive us bonkers seem to shine above the monotony of daily living... in a tiny house with two babies... and only one microscopic bathroom.

I'm tired of newly married people saying, "Oh, marriage isn't hard! We're different. We're better matched. We beat the odds." (I said it myself even just a few years ago.) Shut up. In the scheme of a 60 year relationship, you practically just glanced at each other. You're making those who have been on this road much longer than you feel sick. What loss have you overcome? What sleepless nights? What broken hearts? What frustrated careers? What abysmal loss of identity? What loss of life or health or dreams? Of course your marriage isn't hard. You barely know each other. Suffer together, and then talk. Feel yourself changed from the fresh dreamer into the weary parent. Apologize and promise for the 1000th time.

I'm so tired. Tired of trying and never being enough. Tired of reaching for love. Tired of giving. Tired of receiving. Tired of things getting lost in translation. I'm tired of being myself. I don't want to be the messy, complicated, creative, wild-spirited person that I am. I'd rather be clean-lined, simple, smooth. That's what my husband says he wants. He wants meat and potatoes on the table and no drama.

Why did he marry me? I didn't hide my true nature. I was honest. I pulled no punches. I've always been a roiling, wind-whipped sea. If his heart's desire is a glassy lake, why me?

Marriage is not ours. We think that we create it. We think that we sustain it. No. Marriage is God's mission. He brings us together. Sometimes we sail, wing to wing and oar to oar. Sometimes we chafe like iron sharpening iron.

My husband does not need a glassy sea. He needs me.

I do not need a rushing river. I need the heavy oaken roots of the anchored tree, slowing the churning water of my soul into slower pools and eddies.

I can never sweep him away.
He can never stop me.
There will always be friction there.

We hurt each other often. It is natural that sometimes we would both wish to walk away. We are very different, he and I. As we pull against each other, we create a certain balance in the middle. God has given us to each other. His wisdom is clear. But oh how the pulling aches me today.

Here's the grace:  It isn't about being the perfect wife or husband. Perfect was never part of the equation. Our wobbling souls are exactly what our spouse needs. Their pitching decks are exactly where our feet should be planted. This is the way we grow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Where's Christ in Your Kvetching Christmas?

I know, I know... we haven't had Thanksgiving yet, but the Christmas Kvetching has already begun... so... this post is happening.

We're entering the season of grumpy Christians fighting tooth and nail to keep the Christ in a long-ago-commercialized Christmas. My head is there with you, Grumpy Christians, but my heart isn't in it. And here's why: Christ came to establish a kingdom in our hearts, not on our Starbucks cups.

The people who are campaigning to overturn the secularization of Christmas are operating from a good-hearted place. They're fighting for Jesus. They're holding him up. Loud and proud. These people love their Lord. They see people editing him out of history and they get riled. I would hazard to guess that Jesus does not scorn this love and fidelity, but I would also hazard to guess that he would rather to see their love lived out in a different way.... because his heart is always for the lost sheep. His word tells us that when the 99 are in the fold, and he is running out into the night for that one lamb still wandering in the dark.

Dear Christians, I want to challenge you to pick your battles by a new rubric: Does this help a lost and watching world see Jesus the way he wants to be seen?

If all you want is for the world to see Jesus, then your grousing is, technically, accomplishing that. Congratulations. But does the Jesus you're holding up really reflect the way he represented himself to the world?

It's not that hard to see Jesus in the world today, but are we understanding his heart?

Dear Christians, I repeat... Help a lost and watching world to see Jesus the way he would show himself to them.

The holidays are a great time for that. So get on it. But it's not going to look like the contentious, media-driven, embattled thing that it often becomes. That's too easy. It's easy to dig trenches and throw hand grenades. It's harder to walk across the field and understand your opponent. This doesn't have to mean compromise in your own heart. It doesn't mean surrender. But it does mean service. It does mean sacrifice. It does mean submitting yourself to one another, trying not to be a stumbling block for the weak, choosing the high road.

Put Christ in your Christmas, Church, by understanding and living out Christ in your hearts.