On June 10th Brenda and I celebrated forty-two years of marriage and along the way we have learned some things. Maybe the most sobering thing we have learned is that marriage isn’t all fun and games. Once the gala wedding and the romantic honeymoon is over the real work of marriage begins. No matter how much you love each other there will be times when you can’t stand each other, times when it’s hard to imagine spending the rest of your life with this person.
I tend to agree with the man who told me that there are only two kinds of marriages: bad marriages and hard marriages. At first I was offended. I wanted to tell him that Brenda and I had been married more than forty years and that we have a good marriage. Some days I would even call it a great marriage. But then I thought about it and decided he was right. We do have a good marriage but it has been hard work. God gives us each other, the gift of love, and the covenant of marriage, but it up to us to work the soil of our relationship all the days of our lives.
And no matter how hard you work there will be the inevitable conflicts, little hurts and not so little hurts, bitter quarrels and haunting fears. Pressures too, which pull at you, causing you to drift apart. Silence beneath your words, and loneliness which only those who have known the blessed oneness can imagine. But that’s not the end of the story. With God’s help there will be holy moments too when forgiveness gives birth to intimacy, when the silences and the separation are put behind you, and once again you know who you are and where you belong. She is your only wife. You are her only husband.Category: June 2008
The biggest challenge in my spiritual walk has been pride; or to put it more bluntly – arrogance. Considering how modest have been my achievements you may find that a bit of a stretch. Experience, however, has taught me that success has only a small part to play in a person’s susceptibility to this particular temptation. Even underachievers can find themselves beset with a disproportionate sense of self-importance. What makes pride so deadly is the fact that the arrogant person is usually unaware of his arrogance. He can spot it in a heartbeat in others but he’s blind to it in himself – at least that’s the way it was for me.
Two experiences from my past serve as a case in point. When I served as the senior pastor of Christian Chapel the congregation honored Brenda and me each year on Pastor Appreciation Day. Parishioners sent us cards and letters and some even gave us small gifts. One year a lady brought me a small casting of a man washing another man’s feet. To this day I treasure this gift and it sits in a prominent place in my study but I never bothered to learn that woman’s name. I didn’t give it a thought at the time but now my thoughtlessness reeks of arrogance. I can only shake my head when I realize that I was so full of myself that I didn’t have time to learn her name. Even worse is the fact that I didn’t recognize the sad state of my soul.
The second experience is even more telling. One night Brenda and I were driving out of the church parking lot following the evening service when we spotted Ray and Patsy standing on the sidewalk in front of the church. Everyone else had gone so I stopped and rolled down my window. In response to my questions they informed me that they had ridden a bus to church but had no way to get back home as the buses had stopped running at this late hour. I offered to drive them and they gratefully accepted.Category: June 2008