Friday, May 21, 2010

No man is an island......

Except, well, we kind of are.

Just making a random observation here, based on personal experiences and those of good friends and family.

We're all little islands.

Or maybe it would be more accurate to say we're all little countries. We all have distinct languages, culture, customs, rituals, exports (things we give or contribute to others) and imports (things we draw from, or need from others). We've got our own politics too, and rules for war.

I've been thinking of this little analogy lately as it applies to marriage.

Two countries, allied, united as one. They benefit from each others exports and imports, they're enriched by their culture, customs, and rituals, and enamored by each others languages, even trying to become fluent themselves so as to better communicate with one another, but, what about those politics? What about the rules for engagement?

That's where it gets tricky. It's hard to learn the intricacies of your spouses politics. Especially when you're not fluent in their language. And little misunderstandings lead to unintentional insults and offenses, and sometimes even bigger understandings that lead to all out war.

I don't think it matters who you are, or how in love you are with your spouse. You ARE an island. You are a unique little world, so is your spouse, and at some point, you're going to come face to face with your differences. Be it in how you communicate, celebrate, relax, show love, or argue, you're going to war over something.

And all though I seem to have my analogy all wrapped up nice and pretty, I don't have an actual solution to how we can avoid this. I think it's inevitable. You can love your spouse, deeply and with devotion, and still find yourself totally perplexed by them. What used to be adorable, charming, or even just tolerable will one day annoy you beyond belief. They will change, so will you. And you will fight.

You might fight a lot.

You might fight HUGE big fights.

And this is where we buckle.

This is where we want to cut our losses and run.

They've changed, we've changed. Maybe you don't feel like you know your spouse anymore.

Maybe you don't even like them anymore.

And I have a theory on this one.

It's because we think we're the center of our own little universe, not just one country among many. And I don't mean this harshly, it's true, it's part of the human condition (and again, I'm just making an observation here), isn't it true that we all feel entitled to something more then we have? We feel like we are entitled to whatever makes us happy, and that our spouses owe us something? Honestly, don't you think so?

I did, well, honestly, I sometimes still do, and then I have to check myself.

This is where I bring in God, so if you're not particularly interested in matters concerning God and Christianity, you've been forewarned.

When we see ourselves as the center of a universe, with a bunch of people including our spouse gravitating around us, it's easy to feel entitled. It's easy to feel important. But, when you see yourself as a floater in God's universe, one of billions and billions of floaters, that sense of entitlement diminishes, and you begin to realize how little you are. When you see yourself lined up side by side with all the other people living this life alongside you, you begin to feel humbled. And in marriage, I think we should all be humbled.

You are who you are. Your spouse is who they are. You have needs. They have needs. If we can revisit that "country" analogy again for a minute, we get used to having those needs fulfilled by our spouses exports, that we get frustrated, angry or depressed when those resources dry up. When we start to see our spouse as the only resource to fulfill our needs, eventually, we tap them out. No one person can completely sustain another, emotionally or physically or spiritually. It can't be done. But, if we partner with God, and make him a part of our marriage, and draw from him along with our spouse, and maybe more often then our spouse, well, we will never experience the frustration of a well running try. His resources don't tap out. His love is ever ready. He is always there to listen. You can cast your burdens on him 24 hours a day. He is always willing to give out grace and forgiveness, and He is prepared to be a mediator between you and your spouse.

Got a beef with your spouse? Stupid question! I know you do, I do! But, what happens when you go to your husband or wife with that beef? What happens if you bring your concern/complaint to them and they don't change whatever it was that was bothering you? Frustration? Anger? Arguing? More arguing? You got it.

But, what happens if you bring that concern to God? What happens if you lay out your problem with your spouse to Him? What happens when you pray for your spouse? When you pray for change, in them and in you? When you pray that God comes into the problem and offers a solution? Don't know? Try it!

Now I can only speak from personal experience here. If you don't pray, or you don't consider yourself religious, or you don't know what it means to have God in your marriage, this will sound quite unusual to you I am sure, I've been there too. I know how backwards it can sound, I know how completely ineffective you are imagining it would be. And if you don't consider yourself a Christ follower and you're not interested in what the Bible says about marriage, then none of what I've said will bear any relevance to you, and for that I am sorry, this must be a terrible bore.

But I see marriages so differently now.

Since my own marriage buckled and broke under the pressure of trying to satisfy my spouses every needing and expecting him to do the same. We disappointed and let each other down for years and years, allowing resentment to fester and grow until we just fell to pieces.

In our brokenness, we somehow found something to hold on to, our faith in God and his ability to make good from any bad, make right from any wrong. And I implored Him to fix what we had broken, and He did.

Piece by piece God has helped us rebuild our marriage, and I am learning how prayer can help me cope with fears, concerns, expectations and feelings of entitlement I have. Not that I never bring those to Elvis, but there's a discernment that needs to happen, and I've learned it's best to bring them to God first, and let Him guide me on what to do. He does.

He changes hearts.

He changes attitudes.

He changes marriages.

Now, I'm not a marriage expert, nor am I a counselor. What I am is a baby Christian, brand new and completely in awe of what God has done in my life, of what he has carried me through. And perhaps this is my testimony, that God can grow flowers from dirt, I know this to be true.

I've seen it.

He changed my life, and gave me new eyes to see the world with.

And I see struggling, sadness, discontent, loneliness, anger and despair in so many relationships, and even still in my own marriage (which is not perfect and never will be). And I can't fix anything for anyone.

I'm just a floater in God's universe. I'm a speck. I can't make anyone a better marriage. I can't change anyone or their spouse. I am on the grand scheme of things, insignificant (except in my own little family where I am quite significant). But I've got this one insight. Just one testimony to convey.

If you've tried it all and nothing's worked.

If you're tired of struggling.

If you want to jump ship.

If you don't know what to do next.

Try Him.

Just try.

And see what springs up from the dirt.



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