Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Eternal Love

I read through the complete Twilight series in five days.  It was a sacrifice for my family since I can be completely swept away by the world I enter through the written word.  It is easy for me to lose desire for anything except the knowledge of the fate of the characters I am reading about.  But I travailed, as did my family.

I am not a bandwagon Twilight enthusiast.  I enjoy a good book, and had the opportunity to read these books due to the generosity of my sister-in-law.  I had seen the first two movies and knew the plot line was developed well enough that the books were probably worth the read.  But to be considered a 'good read' I have to be able to draw something from them besides mere entertainment.  Spending precious time reading for the sake of entertainment, is not a high priority for me at this juncture in my life.  Between motherhood, being a wife, city-leauge basketball coach, home-schooling and normal household duties I did not want to waste time for personal gratification.

I was 3/4 of the way through the fourth book when it was laid out for me why these books appeal to the female gender.  My sister-in-law had shared with me that she felt the reason women and young girls were drawn to the books was because of the 'perfect' love Edward held for Bella.  He would go to the ends of earth and time to provide for her every need and want.  He would sacrifice himself and his own personal desires for her happiness.  He wanted nothing more than to be with her and share in her joy and comfort her in her sorrow.  But if he could withhold the sorrow from her life, then he would go to any extreme, including befriending his worst enemy, to keep Bella happy.  He was the embodiment of the 'perfect' man.

There were other parallels to 'perfect' love as well;  as with Jacob and the other werewolves.  When they 'imprinted' or saw their mate for the first time, it was as if the sun had never really shone for them.   For Jacob in Breaking Dawn he said, "It was as if a million steel cables were all tying me to the very center of the universe."  He had found 'the one' for him.

The main reason these books appeal to so many women, is the exact reason I did not want to read them.  I did not want to take my focus off my true love, my passion, the one who has a perfect love for me, the one who has been seeking me (a part of His bride) from eternity.  I am part of the bride of Christ and He is the perfect groom.  He is not a fictional character to be twisted with words and imagination.  He is the creator of the universe and He wants a bride to share it with.

My fear was that I would give into the enemies ever so slight ploy of taking my focus off of my true love and focus on one that was not obtainable, but very appealing to my flesh.  It is easy to get caught up in the rush and excitement of these books, and months later realize how many nights were lost dreaming about someone or something that is not real.  Spending days fantasizing what it would be like to have a man love me so incredibly unselfishly that other women would envy me.

My other apprehension was directed more towards the other reality of now; that I am married, and all of the false pretenses that could/would be placed upon my husband by me based off a fictional character.   We all desire more.  But would I place undo expectations on my mate?   I have heard many women swoon over Edward and wish that their husbands could be a little more like him.  It is easy to deny that I would never be such a wife, but the truth is, if it was not something of a desire within me, then the books would hold no appeal.

So why is it that the desire burns within our hearts, so much so, that we have countless stories throughout time that bend our hearts toward a perfect love?  Why do books such as Twilight hold such an appeal over mankind?  I believe Frank Viola sums it up best in his book From Eternity To Here.

                         Every love story that the minds of mortal men and women construct, every 
                         love story that has made an appearance in the pages of human history-whether
                         fiction or nonfiction-is but a reflection, a pale image, a faint portrait, a scrambled 
                        version of the sacred romance of the ages.
                        God has authored the most incredible love story ever written.  It is a story that has 
                        set the standard for all romantic literature to follow.  Every great saga follows the 
                        story line of the hidden romance contained in scripture.  But none can trump it.

The greatest part of this, the part that gives hope instead of dread, that leaves you knowing there is a romance out there more significant than Twilight, more timeless than Romeo and Juliet, is that you and I were born into such a romance, the romance of the ages.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Scorecard vs Grace

I was in my bedroom earlier this afternoon, folding laundry and putting clothes away. My husband came into the room to do a few things and a comment was made which drew this response from me; "Well, I have done 3 loads of laundry, washed dishes, unloaded the dishwasher, fed the animals, swept the floors, (we have wooden floors throughout most of our home and I have a slight case of O.C.D.; meaning I can not let dirt lie) vacuumed the rugs, made lunch, dusted the furniture and the day isn't half over yet. What have you done?" He immediately stopped what he was doing, grabbed my attention with his silence and lack of movement, and responded, "Are we keeping score again?"

I have a competitive nature and score keeping is in my blood. This is okay, and actually perceived as a desirable trait, in sports and business, but it is detrimental to a successful marriage. What do I consider to be a successful marriage? First, you need to be married. Second, you have to like being married to your spouse.

This has not always been the case for my husband and I. We have been married for a little over ten years. We are blessed with two children. Our oldest is not my husbands natural born child, but he is the only father our son knows. We have faced many obstacles; including 7 months of separation during our 7th year of marriage.

I speak from experience and with confidence when I say that score keeping is not healthy! It promotes death where there should be life. It is the poison that so many of us cling to as the cure for our pain. It is how we justify our actions and responses. "You have/have not done this for me, so therefore I am only being fair to myself by responding in this manner." What we fail to realize, or choose not to care about, is that death inevitably puts up another stone on the wall of division; making restoration much more difficult. You begin to shut down and the only thing that matters is how many points you have racked up and how many strikes your spouse has accrued.

Enter Grace.

Grace extended. Grace received. Grace given freely. Grace that has no end. Pure Grace.

My husband and I were having 'one of those talks' months ago. We were frustrated and desperately trying to understand one another. My husband looked pleadingly at me and said, "All I expect from you, the only thing I desire, is grace. And in return, you should expect the same of me."

I have thought long and hard about this. Of all the expectations I could place upon him, this one ultimately serves us both. It is freedom to love and be loved. For in my weakness he will be strong. In his weakness I will be strong. We choose, I'll say it again, we choose to love the other above our self. It goes against every vibe of our sinful nature; to choose someone else above our self. It is the premiere sacrifice.

If you are struggling with extending grace, believe me I understand. But I challenge you to try. For I have also lived this side of marriage, and might I say, I like being married to my spouse.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

When you Ask for it

Learned a lesson today about being a bride. When you ask your husband for advice and he then offers you some... Don't "bite his head off" for sharing it with you. It may not be what you want to hear, but it might be what you need to hear.

It can be difficult to hear critiques about yourself, (especially if you are like me and are your own worst critic) but it says something about your character if you take the time to truly listen to what your spouse is trying to share with you. (Especially if you have asked for the help.) That means no rolling your eyes, no huffing and puffing, or giving the blank stare out into space or folding your arms and saying "What!?" in the manner of a 13 year old.

It does mean using calm voices and respecting one another. It does mean laughing whenever possible and giving grace to one another. You might wind up having a very good conversation and learn a little bit more about each other and how to interact.

- Being a Bride

Monday, December 14, 2009

Choosing Love

Being a bride is not merely holding a certificate of marriage and proclaiming to the world, 'I am a bride.' It is a daily sacrifice. Not of things or activities, (although those may play a part) but of self.

This simple yet profound revelation, is something I am learning. How to die to myself so that my marriage may live.

I am willing to share my struggles and triumphs with you, in hopes that we can encourage one another on this journey. The life of a bride is so much more than titles and chores! If you open yourself up and allow yourself to be loved, then it becomes a freedom beyond all others. Freedom to love and be loved; for that is what we were created for.

I have two different pictures hanging on my bedroom wall. One is the scripture from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 which says, 'Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.'

Every time my husband and I have a disagreement or argue I read those words. I will be honest with you, at times I am reminded of who I need to be and how I need to respond in these moments of wanting to rip his head off and beat my logic into his being. (A little graphic I know, but I said I was going to be honest.) At other times, I say 'Whatever! Aint happening today brother.' When I choose the latter, it always takes us down an even rougher road to recovery. Giving forgiveness is hard and being gracious, is well, gruesome at times to our selfish nature. But it is the perfect dose of medicine needed to counteract the virus of separation that begins to take hold in my heart.

The other picture states, 'Dance as if no one is watching. Sing as if no one is listening. Love as if no one will get hurt.'

How difficult love is. It has been proven, by our sin nature, that love, unfortunately, is often coupled with hurt. But we have no power to change the other person. We can only change ourselves. We only have control over how we respond and how we react.

So I am purposing to choose love, but beyond that, I am purposing to allow myself to be loved. Sometimes allowing ourselves to be loved is the greater task.