I often refer to myself as perfectly inflexible. Dare I say, even rigid on occasion? I am a creature of habit and a routine follower to the max. I am not the type to “go with the flow”. So when things change on short notice . . . don’t even get me started on last minute . . . I can, at times, get a bit bent.
But . . . I married someone who is somewhat opposite in that regard. Where I am all about planning and details, my husband is a “figure it out as you go” person. And while we have two seemingly contradictory personalities and perspectives on how to deal with life, they actually complement one another quite well.
This is where the “perfectly” qualifier to my “inflexible” comes in.
It’s taken years for us to master this dance . . . me allowing him the freedom to make decisions on the fly. To be more adventurous and not follow an itinerary to a tee. And him understanding that doing that within a plan and timeline of some sort . . . just the security of knowing that I have some idea of what’s to come allows for a sense of freedom to not plan every single second of our lives . . . that I trust him and his judgment in those unplanned, unstructured, and maybe even risky moments. That’s not to say that I never let anxiety get in the way and steer the ship . . . that I always act super nice or “flexible” . . . because I still freak out from time to time. And sometimes, he no doubt, gets frustrated with me when I can’t just let the day or our lives play out without every minute accounted for. But those moments are fewer and further between, and what’s important is that we push one another out of our comfort zones, we support one another, and we have fun together.
2020 has been a year of challenges, a year of heartache, and a year from which most us would really like to erase large portions, if we’re totally honest. But it has also brought with it unique gifts and opportunities for growth. And at the tail end of this Thanksgiving week, when I look back over this year, I can’t help but be thankful. Thankful, that things have not gone exactly according to plan. Thankful, that God allowed something that helped me see clearly how blessed I really am (no, I do not think God caused COVID . . . I’ve explained that before . . . we live in a fallen and broken world . . . but also, He didn’t exactly stop it, and I do believe He can and will use it for good).
My marriage and family life have been no exception to the effects of a worldwide pandemic. When COVID took my plans for 2020 and threw them all out the window, I had a choice, I could get completely upset and annoyed as I’m prone to do when things don’t go according to plan, or I could embrace and take advantage of the opportunity afforded me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not sad that school is back in session (please, never close schools again . . . ever as long as my children are of school age . . . thank you and amen), and I’m very grateful that our real estate business is up and running, but I won’t deny the blessings we were given and the lessons learned, through this pandemic, as both a family and a couple.
And all of this has been running through my head because of news headlines that have flashed across my computer screen over the past 24 hours. More than one has read “Divorce Rates Skyrocket . . . “, and that, coupled with yet another story of infidelity and heartbreak amongst Christian leaders, made me immensely sad but also made me stop and ponder. I can’t help but wonder, what’s the difference? Because I’ve seen two extremes in the midst of this pandemic. It seems it’s either pushed people closer to one another or torn them apart, and I have to wonder what’s the dividing line? Not just in the middle of a pandemic, but throughout life in general. Because we see it time and again, people seem to have it all, huge ministries, thriving businesses, financial stability, a seemingly perfect life, and yet, behind the scenes it’s an utter disaster. But the the difference, the dividing line, both within the church and out of it, is God and doing it God’s way which isn’t always the popular way.
Here’s the thing, I’m not particularly a romantic in the sense that I believe that God has one and only one person for everyone, and if you miss that person you’ve pretty much ruined your chances for life. If you’re married to someone they are that person. Of course, as always, barring adultery, emotional or physical abuse, and/or abandonment, and if you are divorced, whether that be very recently or many years ago, there’s always forgiveness and redemption and the hope of second . . . and third . . . and fourth chances in Jesus so don’t let your past determine the course of your future. I do believe, hopefully with God’s guidance and wisdom, that we have the free will to choose who we want to be with for life, whom it is we marry, and whether or not we’re going to see that relationship through. And y’all if God says “no” there’s always a good reason, but also, I believe He will help us find a spouse that will be very good for us if we allow that. Love and being “in love” is a choice. It’s a choice we make each morning from the second we open our eyes and our feet hit the floor. It’s not an emotion that ebbs and flows, that comes and goes. Because the honeymoon will end, and real life is just that . . . real life . . . with bills, and work, and laundry, and kids to raise . . . all those not so exciting, somewhat boring, mundane things. And ultimately, it takes two people, choosing that they’re both going to put forth the effort to make a marriage really work.
As we round the corner into 2021, which for the record, I’m sure will hold a whole new unique and special set of challenges, I’m very grateful for my husband and kids, and that even when things aren’t good, they are very good. Even when the storms of life rage, we have a solid and firm foundation in Christ. I don’t think we’re special or lucky or the experts on marriage or family. Not even close because we are far from perfect, but I do believe God gives us pretty clear guidelines for both married and family life. You either choose to follow them, or you’re going to have a pretty rough time. You choose to make a conscious decision to do the work, with God leading, that it takes to be successful, and when you do mess up, you apologize and let the Holy Spirit show you how to do better. Frankly, all of that also takes a level of flexibility that only God can give a person like me. And fyi: I have to apologize, to both my husband and my kids, more than I care to admit . . . because as I pointed out earlier . . . I’m not perfect, but I am determined to do things God’s way even if it means trying again and again and again . . . until, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I get it right.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, Love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:18-21
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-33
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