Monthly Archives: February 2020

My Marriage Feels Like Work

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?”   

LOL!

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.

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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. 

Trump, Loving Our Enemies, and Fighting for Our Rights

I read this article today from the Washington Post: Trump’s Politicization of the National Prayer Breakfast is Unholy and Immoral.

Here are the first couple of paragraphs:

At the 68th, and perhaps last, National Prayer Breakfast…Arthur C. Brooks…spoke on the themes of his wonderful 2019 book “Love Your Enemies.” President Trump then prefaced his speech by saying: “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you…  I don’t know if Arthur’s going to like what I’m going to say.”

It was a strange moment in U.S. religious history. The command to love your enemies, of course, came from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. “Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to them that hate you.” It might be expected for a president to express how difficult obeying such a mandate can be. Trump decided to dispute the command itself.

Of course, the opinion piece went on to say how wrong it was of Trump to turn the Prayer Breakfast into a political speech and to “take shots at” his enemies rather than loving them.   (To clarify, that’s what Trump was doing, when he said, “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ when I know that is not so.”  Those were the examples used in the Washington Post piece of Trump failing to love his enemies. )

What excites me is that we can once again thank President Trump for helping Liberals understand a simple Bible truth which they have found complicated and even problematic for decades before. 

What is “love”? And who are our “enemies?” And how do our answers to these questions affect the Progressives in their Quest for Social Justice?

Back when Obama was using the National Prayer Breakfast to talk about Islam and Christians who do evil, was he loving his enemies? When Mother Teresa condemned abortion at the Prayer Breakfast in 1994, was she loving hers?

I’ve noticed it’s much, much easier for people to answer these questions when they hear that The Orange Man said unflattering things about his enemies, in an apparent contradiction of Jesus’ clear words about love and forgiveness and humility, etc. etc.

But when it’s a gay teenager or a Stay-at-Home mother or a black businessman who feels that he or she has been mistreated, we suddenly want to argue that quoting Jesus’ words is tantamount to “biblical abuse.”  (Here’s an entire book that was written about the history of quoting Scripture to cover up injustice.)

“Loving our enemies” is complicated for everyone in America–except for Donald Trump, who should just do the obvious thing and be more like Jesus.

For the record, I agree that Donald Trump is extremely arrogant and self-focused. I can’t stand listening to him speak for more than a few minutes, because he seems to think he’s the most important and interesting person in the world.  And when something unfair happens to him?… oh, my goodness, we will hear about it forever after.  It’s as if he believes that no one has ever been more strong, smart, and powerful while also taking the role of the most lowly, abused victim in the world.

Sound familiar, America?

It should.

This President represents us perfectly.

We know exactly what the Bible says about loving our enemies, but when someone lies about us…gas-lights us… asks us to use a nursing cover in public… what do we do?

We encourage each other to fight.

Fight injustice!

Stand up for your rights!

Stop letting those Bible Thumpers use their cherry-picked Scripture to silence your story!

Thank you, Donald Trump, for once again helping us embrace a concept that isn’t nearly as “grey” as we’ve been pretending for decades.

Thank you for revealing our hypocrisy and giving us the chance to practice what we preach.

God, help us.