New Understandings

29 11 2014

I am a very grateful person.  I am very grateful that a little less than a year ago, my heart was broken.  I am very grateful that this person left me, and I’m grateful for the heartache.  I am grateful for this year.

I have learned a lot.  I honestly have.

But one of the greatest lessons I’ve received from life, is a deeper understanding of how real and significant of a commitment marriage is.

A year ago, I was seriously pondering marriage to another person.  (Or so, I thought)  I was waiting for a sign or an indication that I should use the money I had saved up to put towards an engagement something.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do or give.  But I had the money saved, and I wanted it to go towards that.  Well, I got a sign.  Irony of all ironies, I found myself single.  God always has a sense of humor, because this was a clear sign that I was not supposed to get married to this person.  I am very grateful for that, because now, I realize, I wouldn’t have been a wonderful partner to be married to.  I wasn’t ready yet to be married.

I have discovered that marriage is more than just the wedding or the wedding night.  I’m sure both will be extremely special.  But marriage is about living life, day in, and day out, with another person.  It sounds easy, right?  It is really the easiest thing in the world that’s so hard.  On the surface, living with a person sounds good, right?  Someone to help take care of chores and someone to vacuum the floors because I hate doing so.  But what I didn’t realize is that it’s more than that.

Marriage is about giving of all of yourself to another person.  You trust them with not a whole lot, but with everything.  And that trust is mutual, you are the bearer of their secrets and embarrassments.  And, because you live with this someone, you become more honest with them than you’ve ever before experienced.  That means that I’m going to annoy them when my clothes don’t make it into the hamper, when I leave things out on the counter, or don’t wash my dishes for a few days.  They’re going to annoy me with hair in the shower, or on the floor, toothpaste gunk in the sink, morning breath in my face when I wake up.

Sure, the waking up to someone, and not being alone all the time will be nice….but if my friends are any indication, I’ll probably annoy the heck out of them more than give them delight over being married to me.

There’s also a new calling of love.  You have to learn to love someone more than yourself, and want the best for them.  You’re their harshest critic when they need it, and the kindest comfort when they don’t deserve it.  You have to let go of times they’ve hurt you in the past, and you have to help them navigate this life and all of its stresses.

All of this, I did not know before when I was considering marriage.  But now I do.  Now I know more of what I will be experiencing when I do approach marriage.  May I not ever be so quick to jump into that commitment without the cost of intimacy.

Martha and Mary

23 11 2014

I have been MIA in this blog lately, but I wanted to share with you something that I’ve been taught very recently.  I don’t think I have many words to say on this subject, but I digress.

I don’t have the scripture references, so forgive me for that.

I am currently working through a chronological study of the life and ministry of Jesus.  The first time that we encounter Martha and Mary, they were opening up their home to Jesus, hosting him as he was teaching.  Mary sat at his feet, listening to his teachings.  Martha busied herself with the chores that needed to be done, so that she could be a good hostess.  Martha got exasperated with Mary, and tried to get the Lord to tell Mary to get up and get things done.  And Jesus essentially told Martha to leave Mary alone, she was doing some important stuff.

Then, we fast-forward to the death of Lazarus.  Jesus hears Lazarus is sick, and instead of leaving immediately, he waits around for a few days.  And then begins the journey.  Well, Lazarus dies.  When Martha realizes that Jesus is coming, she immediately gets up, and goes out to meet with Jesus.  And she tells him that she believes that Jesus is the Christ.  A little while later, Mary leaves the house to go meet Jesus, followed by all of the other mourners. And you know the rest of the story from there…Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and he goes and walks out…yada yada yada.

I mean no disrespect for the miracle, but that is not the focus I want to make on this post.  But I’d rather focus on the two women.  First, the fact that these women are mentioned in the scriptures, and respected by Jesus, tells us a significant amount about how much Jesus loved and respected these women, and thus, so did the disciples and the writers of these gospels.  Feminism and all that jazz.

But really, Mary and Martha have been the focus of several discussions and books.  And so often, I’ve heard the preachers use the first story to encourage us to take the time to listen to God and not be so busy with the rest of the activities of the world.  I get that, I do.  I’m not saying that activity is not useful or appropriate.  We are so busy to condemn Martha for not taking the time out, but we forget the second part of the story, the follow-up to that story in their lives.

If we look at these two stories, we see that there is more to Martha than just that initial story.  When she hears about Jesus, she runs and meets him, immediately, no questions asked.  Maybe the reason that she’s so impatient with Mary in story #1 is because she knows who he is and what he is and wants everything to be perfect for Jesus.  Maybe she wants to provide an opportunity for other people to hear Jesus’ message, that she busies herself for those people and is concentrating on being a good hostess.  She already knows who Jesus is, she demonstrates that later in story #2.  She knows the value of Jesus and his power already, she demonstrates that in story 2.  She follows Jesus with her head, logically and rationally.

Just as we see there is more to Mary than just story 1, and we love to paint her as the better Christian.  We see the trend of her being emotionally pulled and tied to Jesus.  It is her emotions, and not her head, that tie her to pursue Jesus.  She’s kneeling at his feet.  She’s mourning, and when she hears Jesus is coming near, she does not go to him immediately.  She probably wants him to come to her…but when he doesn’t do so fast enough, (I suppose!) she goes to meet him.  She allows her emotions to control her approach to Jesus.

The problem of being Martha to the extreme, is that your heart is never touched.  But being Mary to the extreme, and you always chase after emotional experiences, and the routine is not enough.  I think we are so easy to put Mary on a pedestal, but recognize that Jesus does not devalue Martha in story 1.  He simply tells her that her value is misplaced.  At that moment, he tells her that her efforts to please him and be perfect for him, it doesn’t matter anymore.  Later, he talks to her privately and comforts her.  When we put Mary on a pedestal, we neglect to recognize that she hesitates before heading to Jesus, and those emotions hold her back from experiencing Jesus’ comfort over the death of her brother.

We learn a lesson from both of these women.  Both approaches are valued, and both have their flaws.