Have you ever learned or taught a spiritual truth, only to then be challenged by it and fail? Just this weekend, I was deeply moved as I was typing these words for something else I am working on, “Sanctification is not about becoming a so-called better Christian; it is about knowing Christ better.”
I typed those words early Saturday morning in Floyd, Virginia, a small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My mom had taken my sister and me for a weekend getaway. She spoiled us. I’m sure my sister agrees that it felt good to be the daughter for the weekend instead of the mom.
As I woke up early on Monday morning in my own bed, refreshed from a great time away, I wrote an article before the rest of the family started to move. It was kind of a humorous piece about how you would never guess what I did on Friday night. My step dad calls Floyd the place where the hippies and the hillbillies hang out together. I discovered the gloriousness of this truth when my mom took Brooke and I clogging in the country store. I filled the article with the indulgent details of a town that truly supports local business from the farmer’s organic food in the restaurants to the beautiful artwork and woodwork in our hotel room. The diversity of the people–old, young, black, white, hillbilly, hippie, visiting Bobo’s, European, and even tourists from the Philippines–dancing with one another to the banjo and violin on Friday night was like a picture of heaven.
But then Monday happened. I didn’t realize it, but my scheming brain was working against those very words that I just wrote on Saturday morning. I deceivingly returned home rejuvenated to be a better wife, a better mom, and a better Christian. And I had a whole list of how I was going to pull that off this week. Thankfully, my gracious God decided to show me I’m not all that better.
I finished my article just in time to pull off my task of making breakfast and packing lunches at the same time. All I had to do was some editing and posting. But the internet wasn’t working right. With kids to get off to school, a husband to send off to work, laundry, grocery shopping, a house to shine, a dinner to make, a much-needed workout, and a softball game ahead of me, I put that on pause with the intentions of returning to it after the groceries were hunted. Let’s just make that long story short by saying my battle with the internet seemed to reflect the battle I had with my other “mom” duties. (I think the resolution to my internet problems may be in a new modem that is being shipped.) In a strange twist, I lost my article—the kind of lost that can’t be “recovered.” I thought about all the things that can’t be recovered in life.
But I refused to waste anymore time on the computer. I sucked up my loss, and took it out on my workout. But festering inside were all the obstacles that are getting in my way of being the wonderful wife and mom I could be. I thought about how disrespectful my family is when they litter my house with all their crap. I thought about how no one cares about all the trouble I go through in making healthy homemade meals, even when we have softball and baseball games every night. Do they know how hard that is to pull off? I thought about how what I really wanted to do was read my Bible but I had no time because of the responsibilities in front of me. I thought about the wasted time from the morning that could have been spent in God’s word. As I was rushing to get my daughter’s uniform clean and folded, the resentment grew. I still had a lot to pull of to get the house ready for my father-in-law’s overnight visit to see the kids play. Running way behind, the obstacles kept piling up, and I was getting uptight.
When I did pick up the kids, those sweet faces that I missed over the weekend began to irritate me. Their goofiness was only annoying me as I was giving them the lecture about how things need to change in this house. They weren’t doing their homework quick enough, they were talking way too much, and they really didn’t appreciate my awesomeness. I complained to my overworked husband on the phone as he was busting his butt to get home to help coach the game.
I thought about the price a mom pays when she does have a get away. I felt guilty for taking the trip. I was ashamed of my attitude toward my family. I had left Floyd thinking about the love that town had for all types of people, how they served one another so well with their giftedness, and I came home finding my own husband and children hard to love.
It hit me when my husband and I were reading together before bed. Here is what he read from Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas:
I think marriage is designed to call us out of ourselves and learn to love the “different.” Put together in the closest situation imaginable—living side by side, sleeping in the same room, even, on occasion, sharing our bodies with each other—we are forced to respect and appreciate someone who is radically different.
We need to be called out of ourselves because, in truth, we are incomplete. God made us to find our fulfillment in him—the Totally Other. Marriage shows us that we are not all there is; it calls us to give way to another, but also to find joy, happiness, and even ecstasy in another (50).
Thomas connected some dots about the relationship between loving your spouse and loving God. Serving my husband is pleasing to God and I learn a lot about Christ’s love for the church when I am learning to love my husband. I may not have had the time yesterday to drink deeply from God’s word, but I had every opportunity to learn more about Christ through my marriage. Which brings me back to my own quote that I had already forgotten. I was working so hard to be a so-called better Christian in all that I was accomplishing that day. My focus was on all that I was doing instead of all that Christ has already done for me.
Yes, God’s word, not my experiences and feelings are authoritative. Thankfully, I have much of his word saturated in my soul, and the work of his Spirit applying it to me. And thankfully, I have a husband who spent some time last night helping me to know Christ a little better as he read aloud to me in bed.