Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Are We REALLY Ready for Marriage?

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Are we really ready for marriage?

Whether you’re single, engaged, newly married or seasoned in the exciting journey of matrimony, this question is posed to you - and me. Despite the simplicity of the question and the natural impulse to answer yes, there’s an urgent matter that needs to be addressed - perception vs. reality. To put it another way - happiness vs. holiness. To be clear, marriage is very good, because God said so. Marriage is serious, sacrificial, selfless and painful. Although these adjectives may read negative, they are some of the deepest areas of growth for each and every one of us - it’s where we choose to lay down our lives for someone else. The Bible tells us that these are some of the very things Jesus endured for all of us.

Too often, guided by the prospects we believe marriage to hold, we jump into marriage. Yes, literally jump into HOLY MATRIMONY praying, hoping and dreaming for some sort of perfection to manifest. We may deny it, because perfection is completely unattainable, but we’ve all gone through the fairytale stage. The wedding was perfect, the proposal was perfect, our spouse was once perfect and now there’s a desire to have a perfect marriage. Were we prepared for the reality, that even the most perfect spouse will fail us and the desire for a perfect marriage will NEVER hold a glimmer of perfection (complete) until God has total lordship over us and it?

However, as I said above, there’s an urgency in marriage and it becomes apparent when we face anything serious, uncomfortable, hurtful, tragic - anything that steals our happiness. Either we will use this as a time to hide and avoid or we will allow God to magnify His Holiness, not only in us but for us in EVERY situation. This all starts with understanding our need and desperation for God - for a Savior. Our acknowledgement of our lack can intensify His excellence. Are we willing to accept His role in our marriages?

We must be willing to admit that our Savior will use our spouse as an instrument to point out our shortcomings, the masks we wear, our awful habits and failures during the lifetime of our marriages. They will be the reflection we choose to believe as brutally honest and true or perceived. Can we handle that from another imperfect human?

There will be times of testing when our spouse will serve as the alter at which we must go to for compassion, forgiveness, and even repentance. We will find it difficult to apologize, ask forgiveness and repent for the wrongs we commit against them, yet our relationship with our life long partner is going to force humility out of us and point to the most authentic relationship we have with God and our mate.

For some reason we find it relatively easy to accept our spouse as our equal lifelong partner, yet we find it equally difficult to accept them as our primary accountability partner. We don’t want our spouses telling us who they truly see when they look at us, what they see when they see through us or what they experience when they interact with us. What will that feel like?

Marriage must be recognized for what it really it… a perpetual surgical process. At various times in the marriage, someone is undergoing a sterilization, a cutting open, a stitching and a healing. We will endure a refining process that God mercifully puts us through in order to develop a shiny new creation - continually.

Are we REALLY ready for MARRIAGE? Do you want happiness or holiness; perception or reality?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Salsa Dancing and Some Foundational Truths of a Covenant Marriage

Well Covenant Groupies,

Yes, I know it’s been a long time since my last post, but it has been extremely busy on my end. I do apologize.

I must fill you I on what happened last night with Kevin and me. We are core members of our churches’ marriage ministry, (M.O.R.E. - Ministry on Relationship Enrichment) and as we’re gearing up for our couple’s retreat in June, we planned a pre-retreat event. We decided to go Salsa dancing. Who woulda thunk the lessons learned from this historical and sexy dance would have been sincerely apropos for Christian marriages?

Our instructor was an amazing and fun woman named Meeka. Intentionally and carefully, she began to explain how we, men and women, are supposed hold, stand, look and move together. Obviously, that’s expected, right? However, you would have thought we were in church.

Meeka’s lesson had many nuggets in it, however, these are the one’s that stood out to me:

1) She began by teaching us the basic steps by ourselves. Obviously, we had to learn some things alone in order to then combine them with omeone else.
It made me think of who we were when we were single - we know our basics; what we like, what our expectations are, how we define life and relationships etc. In a nutshell, we do believe we know who we are and that's what we demand be accepted in a relationship.

2) Then she brought us together and showed us how to incorporate our basic steps so there’s fluidity with another person.
Far too often we bring individual/independent “Stuff” into our relationships and expect them to work - we miss the fluidity. We miss mny opportunities to relinquish that independent spirit.

3) Meeka then showed us how the man - “the leader” needs to lead and how the women - “the follower” needs to follow. (She specified, emphatically, that the leader CANNOT be the follower nor can the follower be the leader). It just won’t work and anyone watching you dance this way will immediately see the awkwardness.
We often learn in the Bible, in the church, in small groups etc. that each person in the marriage has a particular ole to play in order to live out the call that God has on the Covenant of marriage - otherwise it’s out of order - awkward.

4) We then learned how to properly hold one another. The man has to be, simultaneously, delicate and aggressive. He supports her and she holds on. He has to lead with authority in order that the women feels protected and able to move properly and freely. His movements are her guide. Although he cannot demand it or force her, he has to offer it because with his body and his eyes they communicate on the floor.
This becomes the problem for most of use women. We want to call the shots too. Not that we can’t share the proverbial load, but we can’t take our roles from our husbands and expect them to want to lead. We want to be able to guide, delegate and control some things in the relationship. We often feel that our husbands are supposed to hold on to us and only us.

5) We learned that a lot can and will be determined about the couple’s relationship by their successful or unsuccessful communication on the dance floor.
In order for a vision to have a successful outcome it begins with mutual agreement of all parties involved, a commitment to leadership and those who have partnered with their necessary abilities for the success of the vision and follow through from everyone. Without those ingredients, a lot can be determined about many marriages. Just look at the divorce rate of Christian marriages.

Needless to say, Salsa Date Night was so much fun and AMAZING!!!!!!!

Pictures to follow