the marriage

I wrote this over three years ago when I was working on a book. I just happened to stumble across it today and thought I’d share it because I think that it still rings true, and is so convicting (at least it was for me).

There is a rumor going around about women.
I don’t mean a little story that doesn’t affect our lives, like Betty-Sue doesn’t use cream of tartar in her sugar cookies, but a huge story that should make us stop in our tracks and suck in our breath. It’s a stereotype that says women are gossips. Uncaring twits that really only concern themselves with the next best story about so and so, who did such and such.
It’s odd, because although this stereotype is pasted over the image of every woman, there is a particular group of females that this stereotype is directed to more than others. Women of the church. The sad thing is that the rumor seems to ring true when its defendants are scrutinized under the microscope.
It’s these women that we find ourselves, more often than not, trying to steer clear of.  It’s these women that tend to give all women a bad name. And it’s this name, that at some point in our lives, we all seem to live up to…even if it’s just for a minute. The gossipy, whiny, unpleasant, busy-bodies that you just smile at and ask how they’re doing, but you don’t ever dare become vulnerable or intimate with, because you know your life would be broadcast across the whole town like the 7 o’clock news.
Thanks ladies, you’ve ruined the rest of our reps.
You have heard, I’m sure, that the Church is the bride of Christ. Well, it wasn’t until I started reading Organic Church, by Neil Cole, that an idea struck me. He said that the Church is Christ’s wife. You’d think that I would get that idea on my own seeing as I already know that we are his bride. But when I read “Christ’s wife”, my breath held inside of me and I immediately thought, “Oh no.” This image of the busy-body came to my mind, because this is the image that we portray to the world: a past middle-aged woman, who doesn’t actually give a lick about you as a person, but just wants information. Or she wants to corner you so that you can listen to her complain about so and so and this and that.
Who wants to be around her? What’s so attractive about her?
One of my greatest desires is to be a wife and a mother and to care tenderly for my family. But another thing that I would love, although it would terrify me at times, is to be married to someone of influence, like, for example, a pastor, so that other women could see our relationship or how I interact with others and think, “Oh, it really can be like that?” or “You can be gracious in conflict?” So when I read that we are Christ’s wife, this picture flooded into my brain and I screamed inside, “We’re ruining it!” Of course no one wants to get close to you or think that you can heal their wounds, all you want to do it rub their mess in their face and point fingers. You don’t really care. ‘Cause they would know if we cared.
Wouldn’t they?
Wouldn’t the world look at us a little bit differently if we shut up and listened? If we put our arm around the single mother who is crying that her son got mixed up with drugs, instead of smirking with our eyebrows raised thinking (or even saying), “That’s what you get when the father is out of the picture.” What if we used our fingers to bind the wounds of our sisters, instead of pressing into them to cause more pain. What if we took our eyes off of our comfort, and looked at the horizon that is chock full of people staggering with pain beyond our comprehension? And what if once we noticed that pain, we acted on it, instead of quickly putting our heads back down and pretended as if it didn’t exist.
It reminds me of when I did an internship with an organization that helped women who were trafficked. I was at a conference raising awareness about the issue and while I was talking to one woman I recommended a book that is short and to the point, but tells the plight of these women unbelievably well.  She picked up the booked and furrowed her brow as she flipped from the front to the back, looking slightly put off. Then she placed it down and said more to the book than to me, “I don’t think I could do that.” Then she simply walked away.
I was appalled to say the least, but the truth is that we all do this. I think that there are legitimate times when we need to be careful about what we put into our brains, because sometimes it’s just downright stupid. But here we are talking about a serious issue that affects women all over the world, and we feel the need to put on the brakes, because maybe we’d feel guilty. Maybe we would feel her pain. Maybe our hearts would break. Maybe we would be moved to act.
We don’t want the responsibility of knowing about someone else’s pain, we don’t want to identify with it, because then we would have to do something about it. I mean, can you really know and do nothing about how baby girls are being sold by their families and the younger they are the higher the price men will pay to use their bodies? I surely hope not. If you can, I seriously suggest you look into why you are so consumed with your own comfort. Why doesn’t your heart-break for the sin of the world?
Okay, now back to the point. I’m not sure if you realize this, if you are a person who proclaims to be a Christ follower, you are actually proclaiming a lot more than “I’m going to heaven someday.” You are telling the world that you are married.
I hope that if you are married to a man on this earth that you actually live life with them. I’m not sure if that makes sense, let’s see if I can flesh it out a bit more. I hope that after you say, “I do” and vow to spend your life with this person, that you actually will. You’ll learn about your husband and compromise and fight and grow together. You won’t go on with your daily business and just talk to him like he’s your roommate, but he’s your mate. To be cliché—he’s your other half! That’s what it should look like with Christ. When I tell people that I’m a Christian I’m telling them about my husband, who is so mysterious and wonderful that I can’t wait to continue life with him so that I can learn more about him tomorrow than I did today. And as each new day comes I become more like him, because he is so breathtaking in every imaginable way.
Even as I write these words I am so convicted, because I know that I would prefer to forget that I’m a wife and live without him. I would rather be selfish and put myself first. In reality, I’m a crappy wife.
So I hope you know that I’m not yelling at you, ladies, telling you that you’re screwing it up for the rest of us, but I’m yelling at myself. Because daily I forget that I’m in love. Maybe that sounds silly, but for me it’s so true. I forget that there is a story outside of myself and that the storyteller is the one I am promised to. I hope that tomorrow when I wake up I remember that I am in love and when I do, I choose to put him first and I choose to actually live life with him by my side, instead of keeping him as an afterthought.
If we actually live that way tomorrow, maybe the world will look at us and they’ll stop and do a double take and they’ll realize that the rumor is wrong. They must have misheard it, because those women they see are the most compassionate and truth-filled people they have ever met. So then they start a new rumor, one that wonders about the change and why we are all glowing like a girl on her wedding day.

 

 

I read this differently now that I actually am married.  I hope that I can do what I say. I hope every day that I’m a better wife that I was yesterday, but do I care if I’m a better lover of God? Sadly, I find myself more consumed with what’s in front of my face than what is beyond me.  I understand now why Paul says that it’s better to be single. I was so much more devoted and enamored with Jesus. I’m so thankful for the blessing that Ty is in my life and I wouldn’t trade my marriage for anything! But I do wish that I still carried my old flame (if that makes any sense?). Do you ever find yourself in a similar situation?  Do you worry that you’re an uncaring busy-body who isn’t actually concerned with people’s heart?  What do you do to “keep the flame alive” in your relationship with Christ?

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