Monday, February 18, 2008

On Marriage, Relationships & Compost

There's been a few things that I've either read or listened to today that I thought might be of some use to someone thinking about marriage & relationships. Lydia at The Purple Cellar shared Four C's (in order of priority) that are vital for a biblical relationship that will lead to a godly and healthy marriage.

1. Christianity - Christianity is certainly the first and most important "C." Has the man you like given his heart to Christ and is he living out that commitment? If not, that's all you have to know; you needn't take time to consider the the remaining three "Cs."

2. Character - The second "C" is character. Discerning someone's character takes time, and uncovering what you need to know about the character of the man you like is best done, initially at least, in a group or family setting.

3. Compatibility - Next to be considered is compatibility. Discovering whether you are compatible with another at a deep level also takes time. The bottom line is this: if you don't enjoy each other while you are dating, you won't enjoy each other in marriage either.4) Chemistry

4. Chemistry - That physical wow factor, is the "C" to consider after the first three "Cs" are all in place. All too often this is the driving "C," the one we put first. The most healthy relationships prioritize it here, in fourth place.

Colin and I also spent sometime listening to a couple of downloads while driving through to visit family today. One of the sermons was from John Piper's series Marriage, Christ & Covenant: One Flesh for the Glory of God. His sermon, God's Showcase of Covenant-Keeping Grace, had it's usual gems worth sharing. Here are a few things we took on board:

1. Marriage is the doing of God and marriage is for the display of God.

2. Marriage exists most ultimately to display the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church.

3. You cannot say too often that marriage is a model of Christ and the church. Why?
  • It lifts marriage out of the sordid sitcom images and gives it the magnificent meaning God meant it to have;
  • It gives marriage a solid basis in grace, since Christ obtained and sustains his bride by grace alone;
  • It shows that the husband’s headship and the wife’s submission are crucial and crucified. That is, they are woven into the very meaning of marriage as a display of Christ and the church, but they are both defined by Christ’s self-denying work
Also in this series, Marriage: Forgiving & Forbearing concludes with a helpful image:
Picture your marriage as a grassy field. You enter it at the beginning full of hope and joy. You look out into the future and you see beautiful flowers and trees and rolling hills. And that beauty is what you see in each other. Your relationship is the field and flowers and the rolling hills. But before long, you begin to step in cow pies. Some seasons of your marriage they may seem to be everywhere. Late at night they are especially prevalent. These are the sins and flaws and idiosyncrasies and weaknesses and annoying habits in you and your spouse. You try to forgive them and endure them with grace.

But they have a way of dominating the relationship. It may not even be true, but it feels like that’s all there is—cow pies. I think the combination of forbearance and forgiveness leads to the creation of a compost pile. And here you begin to shovel the cow pies. You both look at each other and simply admit that there are a lot of cow pies. But you say to each other: You know, there is more to this relationship than cow pies. And we are losing sight of that because we keep focusing on these cow pies. Let’s throw them all in the compost pile. When we have to, we will go there and smell it and feel bad and deal with it the best we can. And then, we are going to walk away from that pile and set our eyes on the rest of field. We will pick some favorite paths and hills that we know are not strewn with cow pies. And we will be thankful for the part of field that is sweet.

Our hands may be dirty. And our backs make ache from all the shoveling. But one thing we know: We will not pitch our tent by the compost pile. We will only go there when we must. This is the gift of grace that we will give each other again and again and again—because we are chosen and holy and loved.


Janet said...

How today's post just minitered to my heart and mind. Thank you. My husband and I will be celebrating our 23rd Anniversary next month. I am more in love with him than ever but lately it seems those "cow pies" are smelling thing up! What a godly reminder that we do not need to pitch our tent there. I am reminded on Jesus at the Transfiguration when Peter says let's pitch our tents here Lord...that is where I need to "pitch my Tent" at the beauty of the transfigured Christ not the stinky "cow pies"!!!
May your day continue to bless others...Janet

Joyce said...

I loved this exhortation. The imagery of tossing all of the "cowpies" in one's marriage into a figurative compost heap, to be dealt with only at appropriate times, and not allowing those cowpies to dominate one's marriage was SO HELPFUL. These words were fitly spoken, apples of gold in a frame of silver. :)