Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Lonely Trek to the Narrow Gate - Part Two - Choosing your path

"Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow,
So a curse without cause shall not alight."--Proverbs 26:2 (NKJV)

After months, maybe years, without intimacy from your spouse, you eventually come to a crossroads.  At first you wonder why you are here, then wonder why it took so long for you to see what was happening to your life, then despair as you contemplate the rest of your life in this hopeless, pathetic, humiliating and heart-broken state.

This is definitely not what I signed up for at the wedding!

To speed up things, I am not going to try and examine how we reached this state, because we all have our own unique stories, regardless of how many similarities we may share. And, to put it simply,

It is irrelevant.

Good news is, since you're here reading this, you have at least taken that first step to restoring your life.  You have chosen to do something.  What will you choose to do, though?  Personally, I only see two choices available to a Christian (hence the cute illustration): Bail out (the quick route) or hunker down for the long haul (i.e., take the scenic drive.)

Whichever path you take, in the first part of this series I put down some thoughts that will apply to either journey.  I will not judge, or even think less of you for that matter, should you decide the quick route is best for you.  How could I, seeing as my own trials have only lasted 4 years, while some of you have agonized 10 years, 20 years or even more?  But my hopes and prayers are you will take the scenic route as I did, because you can always bail out at some later date--but once you do, you're off the road, pretty much for good.  My aim is to help those wanting to take the scenic journey to a happy, intimate marriage, to take in full the joy our God wants us to enjoy with our spouse.

Your mission, dear reader, should you decide to accept it, is. . .

Probably not what you think. But if you take the time to ponder with an open, clear mind on what is most truly lacking in your life right now, you will probably arrive at the same conclusion:

Can you see how this might work for the good? Well, if not, I'll get to that, but right now I need to let you know that I am making a few assumptions.  I need to do this because, without these, this journey will probably get you nowhere really slow. They are (in order of importance):
  1. You love God.
  2. You love your spouse.
  3. You want a happy marriage (with aforementioned spouse, of course.)
1. You love God.

This is always important, even more so for Christians. When Jesus, the Greatest Teacher was asked:

“Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment."

Matthew 22:36-38 (CEB)

Seems reasonable; after all, he created us and all this marvelous universe around us. But do you truly understand the meaning of this passage?  And why it is so important?  Put simply,

Your relationship with Jehovah is the most important relationship you can or will ever have.  More important even than your spouse, your children, parents, etc.

Seems kind of demanding, uh?  But this is what our baptism demands (emphasis mine):

"I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me."--Deut 5:6-7 (ASV)

"I demand your complete loyalty—you must not worship any other god!"--Exodus 34:14 (CEV)

That was basically Adam's sin.  He idolized his wife by making her more important than God, obeying her instead of God when he accepted the forbidden fruit from her hand--and we still pay the price for that.  And why is loving God so important?

"If we love and obey God, we know that we will love his children. We show our love for God by obeying his commandments, and they are not hard to follow."--1 John 5:2-3 (CEV)

Simply stated, by truly loving God, we will love our fellow man and obey God's commandments, which are really not that difficult (although easy to stray from every now and then.) And this hooks into number 2.

2. You love your spouse.

If you didn't, you probably would not have married them (OK, I admit this is not always the case, but I think I speak for the majority of cases.)  The important thing is, even after all your tribulations to this point, you still have some spark left, however small, for your spouse.  Or you think you might, buried deep in the cesspool of bitterness, anger and loneliness.  Or you want to re-ignite that otherwise dead flame all over again.

Remember that as a Christian, you should still love your spouse as a person even if not as a spouse anymore. As a Christian, you should not have any place for hatred of your fellow man in your heart:

"The one who claims to be in the light while hating a brother or sister is in the darkness even now. The person loving a brother and sister stays in the light, and there is nothing in the light that causes a person to stumble. But the person who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and lives in the darkness, and doesn't know where to go because the darkness blinds the eyes."--1 John 2:9-11 (CEB)

So if you find yourself harboring some hate in there--let it go.  Open your eyes and come back into the light.  It is OK to hate someone's actions, but you should not hate the person doing them. Always remember Proverbs 26:2--there is reason for their actions.  It's just that you--and maybe even they--do not know what it is.

3. You want a happy marriage (with aforementioned spouse, of course.)

Which is, of course, the goal of this series.  There is one critical fact you must always keep in mind to make this goal a reality:

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."--Genesis 2:24 (ESV)

We have all heard it. But, again, do you truly understand the implications of this passage? And why it is so important? This might sound familiar:

Your relationship with your spouse is the most important human relationship you can or will ever have.  More important even than your children, parents, etc.

At the end of the day, your kids will leave you to start their own families, your parents are finally free from the burden of caring for you, your siblings are busy with their own families as well.  The one who will be at your side then, cleaning up after you when you're sick or enjoying a stroll in the park with you when you're hale, is your spouse.  And that, my friend, deserves the status of most important human relationship, don't you think?

"Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun."--Ecclesiastes 9:9 (KJV)

Until the World To Come arrives, your spouse is supposed to be your reward, your incentive, your companion and partner down the cramped road to the narrow gate. I know it seems, is, a lonely trek right now, but that is why we started down this path.  To make what is supposed to be a reality.

I will get into "why peace" next post.  In the meantime, think about it.

My prayers go with you.

Image courtesy of tongdang at Freeut

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