Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Love & War

   The words Love & War conjure a myriad of images in most minds.  They certainly do in mine.  So, when I saw that John and Staci Eldredge had written a book by that name, my interest peaked.  Then, I’ll admit, when I saw that it was about marriage, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to venture in to read it.  I mean, I’ve been married a long time and have read a lot of books and articles on the topic over the years.  Not that I  believe my marriage is perfect or couldn’t use some occasional encouragement – but really – after awhile – I figured I had heard it all.  However, something just kept nudging me to just give it a shot.  If I didn’t like it – it could go into the bin of ½ read books I gave up on.
     So, the book arrived in the mail and I was semi-excited about reading it.  The biggest selling point to me was that it was written by the Eldredges.  John’s book Waking the Dead had been extremely impacting so I was open to seeing what insight they might have to offer.
     On our 26th anniversary, just one month &; one day before our son was getting married, I began reading.  I don’t believe the timing was coincidental.  Especially when I read that they had been married 26 years when the book was written. 
     Transparency is a trait that always draws me into a book.  When the proclamation that marriage is hard and how it is embarrassing to admit that – I totally understood and opened myself up to pay attention to what was on the pages.  I was appreciative that this book solidified what those us who have been married longer than a nano-second know - marriage isn’t just about the romantic warm fuzzies that too many weddings and predictably sappy movies are made out of.   Marriage is indeed war.  Not a war with each other – but a war that we have to agree at the outset that we are willing to enter into with and for each other.  It is ordained by God and therefore disliked by satan.  Far too often, this realization doesn’t hit until well after the ceremony of bliss and the euphoria of the honeymoon has worn off and all the little annoyances you thought you could put up are larger than life.  We too often forget that each person enters into the marriage bond, not just with all their glorious – can’t live without – qualities – but with all their brokenness, too.  It is as one of the chapter subtitles stated “Romance meets Reality”.
     Yes, this book dealt with the blatant honesty of issues in hearts and marriages, it also offered some tremendous reminders:
    “We are entrusted with their hopes and dreams, their wounds, and their fears.”
    “Being married costs you everything.”
And, it offered wise counsel, from the heart of two people who admittedly went to the brink of divorce more than once.
   “  “Jesus said, “ Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).  This is a love story, after all.  And what does learning to love look like?  Well, for one thing, it looks like compassion for your spouses’ brokenness while choosing to turn from your own self-protective style of relating.”
    I especially appreciated this small line, tucked somewhere mid-way through the book, “The secret of happiness is this: God is the love you are longing for.”  Well said.   Marriage – another person - was never intended to fill the places only God can.  The truth is, if we have that place filled by God, then he can lead us into a very exciting adventure with our spouse and with the family that God has ordained.
The writers admitted that if they were pressed to choose their “top three things that would help your marriage,” they would come down to the following list:
1.         Find life in God
2.         Deal with your brokenness.
3.         Learn to shut down the spiritual attacks that come against your marriage.
Wise counsel indeed.
   This book is great.  If your marriage is struggling and you are walking through hard times or know someone who is - its worth reading.  It solidified in me things I already knew and showed me somethings I hadn't seen before.  Bottom line is this -  the enemy of our souls would love to destroy the marriage that God ordained – but greater than that God is FOR us!  It is war, but it is a war worth fighting with God’s love.  After 26+ years of marriage – I am glad Cameron is the one with me on this adventure!  
   For my son, Grant and his lovely bride Nichole - with God's help this can be a tremendous and beautiful adventure through good and bad.  Know that we are there alongside you, but most important God is FOR you.
   For my daughter, Amanda and my young friends who have yet to embark on this marriage journey – I want to encourage them to truly hear God before they go down this lifelong path.  No compromise.  If there are red flags in a relationship – don’t assume they will ‘work themselves out.’ Have the courage to heed the warning signs and get out before you say  “I Do”.  You know what those checks in your spirit feel like –this is not the time to ignore them!   By the same token, when God’s mate for you comes into your life – you will both know and be willing to love unconditionally, grow a family with, be in community with, help each other reach the God-given potential inside, and fight for each other in the natural and especially in the spiritual...Just Sayin….