Questions couples should ask each other if they are considering marriage:
*Does the toilet paper dispense from over the roll or under the roll?
*Do you squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube or from the middle?
*Do you roll socks before folding them together, making a tight ball, or do you just fold them over into a loose tube?
*What kind of emotions does the "E" on your car's gas tank trigger in you?
*Do you consider an iron an essential household appliance?
*Do you prefer having all of the lights in the house On or Off?
*Is the opening day of deer season a significant day on your calendar, trumping any other family or church-related event?
*Do you consider vegetables an essential part of a healthy diet? Do you like vegetables?
*Red wine - room temperature, or slightly chilled?
*Do you sleep better in a dark, quiet room, or do you prefer some kind of soft light and a radio playing in the background?
When Steve and I first married, I thought we were so much alike. Two peas in a pod. We could never possibly disagree on anything, because we had the same likes and dislikes, the same values, the same quirks and preferences. A marriage made in heaven.
Boy, was I wrong! We both had a lot to learn from each other!
Nowadays, Steve always puts the toilet seat down after using the restroom. Me, I've learned to scrape the butter from the top of the stick instead of slicing a pat from the end. Nowadays, Steve turns his socks right-side-out before putting them in the laundry, and I don't get majorly freaked out by laundry piled in the floor.
How long did this learning to live together take us? Well, we're still working on it. And that's at 27 years and counting.
Yes, we get frustrated with each other. Sometimes, downright angry. We sometimes hurt each other's feelings, neglect each other's needs, disregard each other's concerns or preferences. But we are committed to this relationship and believe that, even with all of life's annoyances and trials, this marriage has real value, both now and for eternity. The value of the work that God is doing in each of us through the vehicle of marriage is huge compared against the bumps and scrapes and bruises of life together.
I do not always love my husband like I should. I do not love my children perfectly, either. My church family - do I always get it right there? Nope. And you know what? None of these people love me perfectly, either. But by God's grace, we are learning what it means - a little at a time, day by day - to have and to extend and to live the love of Christ.
I did not know 27 years ago that Steve's tendency to stack papers here and there would get on my nerves. (Me, I'm a "Don't pile it - file it" girl. Well, I used to be!) I did not know that closet doors left slightly ajar could be so offensive. But I did know that I loved that red-headed man. And I still do. My learning to live with the piles and cracked doors has been part of my learning to live with and to appreciate a unique individual.
My kids...this one has guns and hunting gear crammed in every nook and cranny. That one plays his music louder than I prefer. Another tapes things all over the walls. One writes notes all over her arms, like a grocery-list tattoo. One takes waaaay too long in the bathroom on Sunday morning. They are not like me - but they are beautiful, and I am learning to love and enjoy them. Because I'm their Mom, and I'm in this for the long-haul.
What about my church family? Am I committed to the local body of believers? Susie talks too much, and I think Sally dresses immodestly. Sam turns every single conversation into something heavy and theologically challenging - Lighten up, buddy! I don't think Stuart and Sarah control their kids very well - Can't you get them to sit still and be quiet? Shane sings too loudly and too slowly and drags the music down. Sharon always has way too many prayer requests. And Sandra, her life is all one great huge drama after another - exhausting!
It would be tempting to think, "I want to find a church where people are more like me. Where people look and act and think like I think they should...like I want them to act." But that's not what this faith is about. Christ didn't save me so that I could be a member of a family that would make me comfortable, that would meet my expectations, that would conform to my preferences. He made me a member of His family, where I can learn from and teach my brothers and sisters - not because we are exactly alike, but because we are unique individuals, with unique perspectives, experiences, and personalities. I've learned over the years: if I'm too comfortable at church/with my church family, I am probably not growing.
So what holds this messy, mixed-up family of faith together? Christ. He's in it for the long haul. He knows - and He is teaching me - that this body of believers, the church, has value way beyond my personal comfort, my likes and dislikes. Am I committed to my local church even through change and growth, through bumps and bruises? By God's grace (Help me, Jesus!), Yes. Because this truly is a marriage made in heaven.
3 days ago