Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, who recently celebrated 70 years of marriage, once said, “If a man opens the car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.” There’s a nugget of truth in this joke: novelty fades in marriage as much as anything else.
On Saturday, May 14, 2016, a cloudy, blustery, and unseasonably cold day, I married the woman of my dreams. As my wife and I prepare to celebrate our first anniversary, I have found myself reflecting on how we’ve grown and what has changed in our relationship.
I don’t think Jesus was humble. I really don’t. If I met him today, humble is probably not something I would take away as a first impression. Now, before you start quoting Philippians 2:6-8 or Romans 15:3 to me, let me explain. I believe that our understanding of humility is so skewed that, were we to meet Jesus, many of us would come away saying that he was arrogant and presumptuous. Why do I think that? I’m glad you asked!
How do I know if the person I’m with is the one I’m supposed to marry? Or, to Christianize it, how do I know if this person is God’s pick for me? What if I make a mistake? What happens if I miss the person that God is preparing for me? How do I know?
In a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, Raj struggles with this same question. He has been dating Emily for a while, but another girl walks into his life that he is drawn and attracted to. Should he break up with his girlfriend and pursue a new relationship?
“Anytime the world sees you as just one thing, it’s exhausting, because you aren’t just one thing, and it’s very difficult to have to constantly meet someone’s expectations. Someone’s simplistic, less than complexly-human definition of personhood, is exhausting to have to live inside.”
– John Green
There’s an unavoidable, honest, deep-felt sigh that follows when someone finally says, “You look tired.” It’s as if your soul, delighting in being finally uncovered, joyously betrays the ‘I’m good’ lie you just spoke in obligatory reply to the ‘Hello’ with which you were greeted. Our personal rat-races are built on such deceptions – meant to convey sincerity and care, but mostly just regulated to the realm of polite, social etiquette.
Productivity, my Stockholm lover;
Verily, your name is weariness.
As a kid, I loved getting the Saturday comics. Like most kids, I didn’t read them in order; the Magic Eye (a stereogram) was one of the first I looked at. I was one of those lucky kids who figured out how to see the 3D image or text buried inside. It’s a little tricky and counterintuitive if you’ve never been able to do it. Essentially, you need to look past what’s right in front of you. The image is there; it’s just not visible when we look at in the “normal” way.
So much of truth and life is buried right before us, hidden in plain sight. What if our understanding of spiritual things is hindering us from seeing the truth?
When checking out at the grocery store the other day, I realized the cashier hadn’t given me the one plastic bag I’d asked for (at this store, you have to purchase each bag). I’d filled my two cloth bags and so I turned to the cashier to to ask for one, and what came out of my mouth was, “Uh, one bag?” She told me I hadn’t paid for one, to which I sarcastically snapped, “Well, I asked for one.”
I could tell the cashier wasn’t impressed. To clarify, I hadn’t meant to sound sarcastic or rude. I wasn’t having a bad day; in fact, it was a good morning. So why was my ad hoc response to a simple miscommunication delivered with such a rude tone?
We all live with this fundamental principle underscoring our entire worldview: I am the most important person in my life.
I saw this image come through my news feed this morning. And it angered me (if you posted it, this isn’t an attack against you; this picture just started a morning-long conversation in my head). It’s a cute picture, and it’s a cute sentiment. The idea is that ‘she’ makes everything better. ‘She’ cancels out the negative thoughts and self-talk in his mind. Essentially, she saves him.
Just like that terrible movie, A Walk To Remember. Again, a cute movie, but like so many movies, idealizes a view of relationships that is actually quite destructive (I realize I’ve scandalized a lot of you by now). That movie, like this image, sets my blood on fire. And here’s why:
It is extremely selfish and a terrible burden to lay on someone you love to expect them to save you.