“Your obsession is no longer staying alive, your obsession is getting closer to the one you encountered in the place of devotion, so you’re able to look at what you were not willing to confront… More
Today Micah and I celebrate our third anniversary, and in honor of that, I wanted to share a reflection on marriage I wrote a year and a half ago. It speaks a truth and a reminder that I need just as much now as I ever did.
Micah and I have been married for a year and half, and if we’re being honest it has been a pretty crazy journey. Going into marriage, we had a handful of expectations (don’t we all?), a lot of questions, and an understanding that we really couldn’t know what we were getting into until we were actually in it. That proved to be truer than true, in some very real (and some very painful ways).
One of the things I couldn’t have anticipated was what it would really be like to live with my husband. <– Husband is the key word there. I have lived with other people before. Actually I’ve always lived with people; sometimes 2, sometimes 4, sometimes 10 (on a bus, traveling the country)…I know what it is to share space.
The difference that I’ve noticed in marriage is that there is this odd tension between wanting to spend time and also desperately needing to claim my own time and personal space. Living with family or roommates, if I needed time to myself or was trying to focus on something particular, I could just go to my room or leave the apartment or put on some headphones and zone out. Living with Micah, I can do all those things but often I am choosing to do them while feeling the tug of my own heart that wants to draw near to him. To invest in him. To ensure that he is okay, that he is cared for, that he is loved.
Micah and I try to prioritize time together and time apart. We have worked hard to attempt the fine balance between healthy time together and unhealthy dependence; and anyone who’s married knows that it’s not always so easy or so perfect. I feel that there are so many times that we have an opportunity for closeness, and for whatever reason, we miss it.
And in this missing it, we throw everything out of order.
One of the simplest, and also seemingly most common, ways this happens in our marriage, happens almost every day. I am reminded of the way Micah enters the kitchen almost every morning to find me at the stove making breakfast. That each time I can know that he’ll get in a little too close beside me, that he’ll lean over my shoulder in curiosity, not realizing it makes me feel crowded. That he’ll probably choose to playfully pull me into a hug or an impromptu dance a second after I put the butter in the pan, the moment I turn the temperature on the burner up, or right before I have to flip “that egg that’s about to burn”.
In this moment I have an opportunity.
If I’m being honest, I often choose to get frustrated, to push him away, to choose my present task over our much more important relationship. Micah gives me an almost daily opportunity to draw close and I am not proud to admit that I often choose to miss it. I sometimes wonder what would happen if more often than not, I simply chose to move the pan off the burner and draw near to my husband for a short but sacred moment.
In the long run, I probably won’t regret having to cook a second egg, but I can guarantee you that if these morning moments ceased…
…I would desperately miss them.
It makes me wonder how many times an unwelcome interruption could be transformed into a moment of joy? What would happen if we chose to help wash those dishes instead of feeling “entitled” to our usual after-dinner date with our phones or televisions? What would it look like to put down our book or our project for 5 extra minutes and really listen to the person at the other end of the couch.
What would it look like to simply enter those moments.
Sure, living with another person can be annoying at times, but it can also be sanctifying. Marriage is a unique creation of God, an opportunity to draw close to another person in a way you wouldn’t with any other. And in that closeness, you are faced with opportunities to love, and serve, and forgive, and sacrifice, and step out of your experience long enough to see the other side. It presents us with an opportunity to learn about and grow with someone in an incredibly meaningful way.
You have an opportunity.
Are you going to get distant, distracted and impatient over an occasional burnt egg…
… are you going to dance in the kitchen, grateful for an opportunity to draw near?
“I just feel like I can’t keep up,” I muttered as I sat on the kitchen floor, back to the pile of dishes sitting on the counter for the third day in a row, defeated. Not just by the dishes, but by all the things of life. The commitments, the to-dos, the disappointments, even the good things in life seemed to be too much. Have you ever felt that way before?
That feeling of having so much filling your life that you can’t stop long enough to remember that some of it is good? I sat there feeling as though I was staring out the passenger window of a car driving too fast, wondering how many good things I’d failed to notice in the rush.
I remember reading a quote a few years back that runs through my mind often; especially when I catch myself answering the question, “How’ve you been?”
“Stop the glorification of busy.”
When someone asks me how I’m doing, it’s so easy for me to quickly answer, “Good… Busy”, as if it’s an automatic extension of my well being. The thing is, those friends aren’t asking about the status of my calendar, about how full my days are…they are asking how full my life is, how fulfilled my heart is.
There are times when I catch myself saying that, and realize that if I look back at my calendar I’m not so much busy as creating “busywork” for myself, and that’s where I really have to stop and take stock of where I’m at.
Why do I feel the need to fill my life with tasks? Why do I feel the need to “appear” busy?
If I’m honest, it comes down to an identity issue. On the surface, it’s comparison. At the root, it’s selfish idolatry. I have created an idol out of the person I think I should be, and placed my own value in this broken version of “busy”. To be busy is not wrong, but to seek busyness as a way to feel important is running after the wrong thing.
The question comes down to where our hearts are; what do our actions, in times of busy and times of rest, say about who (or what) rules our lives?
That quote, “Stop the glorification of busy,” has so much more meaning when you dig into the meanings of glory and glorification.
Glory is defined as high renown or honor won by notable achievements, magnificence, great beauty, to take great pride or pleasure in.
I’m not sure that my “busywork” is anything notable, and I rarely “take pleasure in” it, although I seem to carry a fair amount of silent pride around over my projected importance.
Glorification is defined as the practice of acknowledging and revealing the glory of God by one’s actions, praise and worship of God, praise, honor or distinction extended by common consent, describing something as admirable.
I’m not sure how running myself ragged is praiseworthy or admirable, and it certainly isn’t an action that naturally reveals the glory of God .
If we are glorifying busyness, or the title we are hoping to achieve, if we are glorifying our work, or our family, or our bank accounts and status symbols…who is the god of our lives?
Our tasks and full calendars and the identities that they create for us are not innately wrong, but they in themselves are not worthy of praise, or honor. They are simply symptoms of our place in life, they are examples of where we place priority, they are circumstance. Placing any amount of value, importance or our precious identities in them creates an empty idolatry that leaves us sitting on floors wondering why we just don’t have the strength or focus to keep up.
There is only One who is worthy of that praise, and He has filled each of us to the brim with purpose and value and our identity is most true when it’s rooted deep in His truth. Out of this place of value, out of this knowing of our Savior and how He sees His creation flows all of those skills and gifts and good things we are striving for in the first place. The Bible declares all glory to God in all things and shows us how to do the same…
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
1 Peter 4:10-11
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen
Our God, the creator of heaven and earth, the very definition of love, is magnificent. He is worthy of honor and praise, and our actions in all seasons of life should point to His glory.
With our eyes on Him, we still might not be able to get to those dishes and we still may feel like our lives are full to the top, but by His grace, strength and guidance we can see the beauty in the mess, we can prioritize and forgive ourselves, and at the end of the day we can rest knowing that our value does not rest in expectations and opinions and our life does not depend on completing that never ending to-do list.
1 Timothy 1:17
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen