Monday, October 13, 2008

Walk it and talk it

I have been asked to expand on the things mentioned in my last blog, so I will try without revealing private confidences and someone else's story. First let me say that even though I don't believe that divorce is ever a good thing, I do understand that there are times when it is or seems almost inevitable. I don't believe that a person that has another lover is owed the comfort and protection of marriage, though I know healing and restoration happens at times. There are certain circumstances that put a whole family at risk, however and I understand that. Unrepentant drug and alcohol abuse, habitual affairs, physical abuse, spouse's homosexuality (although I would place that under the category of unfaithfulness), are all things that can break a marriage. I don't believe divorce is prescribed in those circumstances, but I certainly understand. It is the unrepentant part that sets things apart.

What stands out for me are those who see divorce as an option for extreme unhappiness. Unhappiness is a temporary condition, until we allow it to become a habitual one. I know what I'm talking about here. I was so unhappy at one point that I wasn't sure I could live through it. I considered divorce, but the fact is that it was not justified. "For better or worse" I had promised. What good is my promise if it only means as long as I'm happy. As long as I'm happy.

I was expecting my husband to be things for me that he can never be. I was expecting him to heal painful places in me that only God can heal, to be to me what God should be. I was so focused on my own misery that I wasn't taking care of my husband. I wasn't caring for him. I truly believe love is action that brings about emotion, not an emotion that brings action. The action must be loving even when the heart is not.

Thinking through I Corinthians 13, I am struck by the actions in the so-called Love chapter. What does love do? It bears, believes, it is patient, is kind, it protects, hopes, perseveres. Love keeps no record of wrongs, is not rude, is not easily angered, is not self-seeking, does not envy, is not proud. What does that mean? Is there one word about what love feels? We have it so wrong in our feeling driven society. I was raised on the whole fantasy of a Prince Charming who showed up, fell in love with me at first sight and then lived happily ever after. Stupid romance novels showed me men who anticipated wants and needs, brought flowers, made grand romantic gestures and swept a woman off her feet. What a load to put on a man! He is supposed to be strong, silent, except that when he speaks it is to say the right thing; he is supposed to romance me without ever messing up the budget, is supposed to have oddles of money to spend on get-aways and grand gestures while providing a fabulous house, wonderful car and an extravagent lifestyle, and yet isn't to be too involved in his career.

What happens when we find a good man who isn't very ambitious? We are impractical about what that will mean for our financial future. What about a man who is a great provider? We don't appreciate all his hard work and time away, but complain about that instead. We show so little mercy and forgiveness for the flaws and humanity of these men! We want a girlfriend with a six-figure income in a rugged handsome body. Truth be told, there was a time when I was embarrassed by my husband. I had it in my head that there was something disgraceful in the fact that he was in construction. I wanted a guy who put on a suit and had the respect of everyone he sees.

I'm ashamed of that today. I look at the men I admire, and many of them are godly men who work with their hands to provide for their families. They are hard-working, honorable men who should be respected by their community, but often their community looks at them as less-than. Some of the finest men of God I know aren't guys who sit in their studies all day searching the scriptures, but are men who study before heading off to swing a hammer or turn a wrench all day, striving to live out their faith in a world which despises what they stand for. They speak truth when their churches are ready to fall for the latest fad Christian philosophy of stupidity.

Some men that I respect have the respect of their families, and others, I'm not so sure. All I can say is that while some of us may think the man is in charge of the home, it is my belief that the woman sets the tone. If I have a bad attitude, I can set the whole household on its ear within minutes. If I am angry, I can bring about a fight. I can accept that my husband's idea of romance is to bring me a cup of coffee, or I can lament that he isn't a chocolates, flowers and nights spent dancing beneath the stars kind of guy.

What I choose is to put chocolate in my coffee, plant flowers in my garden and dance beneath the stars if I feel like it, and to appreciate the cup of coffee. This has not been easy, and my husband had to live through a lot of years where I acted like a petulant child.

I hate seeing my friends in pain, but I hate even more that someone is ready to call it quits because they are unhappy.

Anyway, that's part of the picture. The other part of the picture is that a friend was telling me about praying for God to show her what she needed to work on, to show her what area in her life he wants to concentrate on, to show her what lesson he wants to teach her. I won't say what she told me, that is her personal story, but I related to what God had revealed to her and how she had envisioned what God was doing in that area of her life. It is a beautiful thing when God takes our ugliness and washes it in the blood of Jesus and brings us through spotless. It isn't that we are without sin, but to begin to see our sins as he does and to be aware of the pain and suffering I cost him is humbling and makes me want to turn from my sin. It also makes me so grateful that he paid the price in his own body on the tree.

Have a blessed day.

No comments: