I felt something bubbling up today.
At first I thought it was indigestion. But it turned out to be a speech! Here’s what I wrote on Facebook:
When a Christian wants to be “honest” about relationships on Facebook, they often say something like:
“Let’s be honest… Sometimes it’s hard work and you want to quit… But it’s always worth it. ❤ “
Wait, “Sometimes it’s hard work?”
That’s the biggest understatement on the planet!
How about this:
“It’s USUALLY so hard that you assume there must be something wrong because it couldn’t possibly be this hard for everyone.”
In the words of a wise man I know, “If marriage were easy, you wouldn’t have to take a vow to keep doing it.”
There’s nothing quite like marriage to reveal our weaknesses and remind us how much we prefer BEING SERVED to doing the serving. Every day, as both a wife and mother, I’m shocked by how much I’m tempted to become an ugly, shriveled, self-obsessed monster.
I have to struggle every, single day to remember that my husband is not my Need-Fulfillment Vending Machine. He does not exist solely to dispense what I call “love” and “joy,” whenever I think it’s owed.
I have to cling to Jesus every, single day , lest I view my husband and kids like smartphones built for my convenience.
Do you know how annoying that is?
Do you know how HARD IT IS to forgive my husband for coming home late on the nights he said he’d be home early, and the kids have been unholy terrors, and I’m convinced that I’m putting way more into this family than I’m getting back out of it…
…but then, on top of all that, I get slapped with the realization that I’m mad at my husband FOR WORKING TO PROVIDE FOR OUR FAMILY, which makes me not only tired and overworked, but also ungrateful. So, then, I have to grapple with the fact that I owe everybody an apology, which I will only be able to conjure up by the grace of God.
Love and marriage feel like conviction and frustration and Repetition more often than they feel like Infatuation.
And if that’s not scandalizing enough, let me just say that I consider the “boring” days some of the best ones…
Forget “passion” and “keeping the flame burning.” Just give us a nice, ordinary stretch of days where we’re too busy thinking of others to be concerned with whether our marriage is sufficiently “thrilling,” for once.
I’ll take boring!…when we get a break from our foolish, wandering lusts for a little while. Our restless hearts are able just to BE STILL with each other, free of unfair expectations, for a day or a week or (Praise God) an even longer intermission of “boring” serenity, when all the fires of our idolatry have been put out.
I shake my head thinking how so many promises made by Christian Counselors encourage a Vending Machine Mentality. “You should LOVE your spouse”…like you love a bag of chips. Or “You should enjoy your spouse”…like you enjoy scrolling on your phone.
“Don’t let your excitement for this product die!”
They insist The Manufacturer (God) wants you to keep burning with excitement, so if you don’t, you know it’s time for a repair or an upgrade.
(Enter: the Marriage Enrichment Class.)
Yikes. There’s no better way to bring out the ugly, shriveled, self-obsessed monsters.
Treating people like commodities only seems like it will feel good, until you actually put it into practice.
Anyway, I’m saying all of this with a smile on my face. (I say this because I’ve been accused before of enjoying pain.)
I’m not miserable, and I’m certainly not anti-marriage.
I just think it’s a shame when people destroy their relationships because they expect refinement and growth and sanctification to feel a certain way all the time… and then they’re surprised when it feels like work.