A marriage in our church has just fallen apart…it probably was getting emptier and emptier for a long time and the masks just couldn’t stay pasted anymore.
This is tragic, not just for the family but for our church. How can this amount of pain come together every Sunday and during the week without being addressed by someone? One answer; they are good fakers. (My thought on that; faking happiness is no substitute for the real thing and a dangerous game that brings agony.) Another answer; they thought that pretending things were ok would make them ok. That’s like ignoring a malignant tumor, hoping it will go away. Sadly, a third reason would be that when people like me say, “how are you?” we are so programmed into hearing, “I’m fine” that we don’t actually pay attention.
A common criticism of Christianity is the hypocrisy people see…but I see hypocrisy in all of us. I do not think it’s a religious thing but a human thing. I think it bothers people more in “church” settings because each of us genuinely needs there to be a place where we are accepted & even loved despite who we really are….and each of us genuinely needs that sense of belonging in a bigger sphere than our homes. If we have it at home we usually don’t appreciate it at all or even think of it any more than we think about plumbing.
A recurring problem in my own marriage is my feeling like I’m just “part of the plumbing” in Dave’s life; that he takes me for granted & doesn’t appreciate me. The problem comes, not from being taken for granted, but from my attitude about being taken for granted. If I am playing the wrong tape in my head, having conversations with Dave that only exist in my brain, I set us up for problems because he wasn’t actually part of the conversation in my head…and I start reacting to the “head-Dave” instead of my real human husband.
Solomon (in his Song) has some good ideas on this: he talks about the little foxes that run through a vineyard taking bites off the grapes–a little here, a little there. If you don’t catch the little foxes, you end up with a devastated vineyard after time from something that did not seem important at the time.
In another part of his Song, he paints a word-picture of a lover coming to his love, “open to me, open to me, my love” “I have just washed my feet, how can I get them dirty again? I have just put off my dress, how can I put it on again?” So the lover leaves, and the bride wakes up & starts looking for her lover & gets hurt.
A recent advice columnist asked for input from men in why they cheated on their wives. The main theme I saw in their answers was this… “my wife doesn’t respond to me”. Not a physical response, an emotional one, in most letters. I’m not in any way excusing a cheating husband; I am pointing out a human trait we all share.
Forgiveness is a theological thing…I think of theology as God (theo) logic; that which only makes sense because of God. The more I understand His forgiveness for me, the more I am able to open to my mate when I am hurt by his human shortcomings. My ability to respond to anyone is based on my current selfishness. If I am focused on how I feel I am NOT being “dead to self and alive to Christ” and am blind to what He is asking me to do in His strength.
Real Christianity is lived moment by moment in the battlefield of my mind and revealed in the actions & words I choose. The victories I have over the little foxes and leaky pipes in my life don’t seem important or worth the cost but looking back I can see the damage I have allowed by ignoring His prompting to deal with something I thought trivial.