today two of my ichthus pals are getting married. childhood playmates, high school sweethearts and after a reprieve, they chose to become lovers for life. i am thrilled for these two and the journey they are beginning, but this one among many wedding occasions is stirring something within.
i think my idea of marriage is skewed and scarred by an irreverent culture, controlling religion and plain old fear. i know in my heart of hearts it is a fantastic gift. yet lately there has been a bittersweetness to it all. i thought at first that i was just jealous, just selfishly unable to rejoice with those who rejoice. but it persisted, this nagging sadness, and this morning as i ran, i began to peruse it.
sure, there are all the issues of my being single/leaving the country and everything i know for two years that color this. but underneath it all is this sense of loss. i have heard friends say, "oh i lost my friend to a girl" when this friend gets a new girlfriend. or this sense of finality as the ring slips on the finger, as if all the friends are saying farewell. what i know about marriage tells me that this is ok, that this is part of it. the man and woman shall leave and become one...the union of two becoming one front. obviously, friendships will change. the best friend is now the husband, not the roommate from college. this is the logical order of things and proper. right?
this is my issue. i feel like a chasm opens up between single and married friends. i have watched best friends stop talking to each other. i have heard and been a part of the cynicism on the single side, and experienced a sense of arrogance from some married friends. "oh, until you're married, you just can't understand..." but again, there's a part of me that says, this is ok, this is how it should be. it's just how it is. even from the point of living missionally, it makes "sense." married people have the mission of their marriage and thus this creates a bond. single people have time/room for other missions, so they can bond through this.
but below all of it, there is this ache that says absolutely not. with the divorce rate at 50% and raising, both Christian and non-Christian, something tells me that something is not as it should be. if we are all part of the body, i don't think that there should be this split between married and non-married. i don't agree that marriage should be your greatest mission in life. i think that marriage should empower the two united to live out their mission better...not leaving it behind to make your union itself the mission. if marriage is meant to reflect the relationship between Christ and His church, shouldn't marriage then be inviting, drawing people into their experience? shouldn't it reflect the pouring out and serving that flows out of the relationship between Jesus and His people?
i'm not saying i know how any of that plays out. obviously. i'm not married. but i definitely think that the way we approach marriage is not accurate these days.
i know that marriage in a lot of ways has to be between the two married. i also know that there has to be time and energy and intention placed on loving each other well. i just feel like in some ways we have swung to the extreme, encouraging ingrown, closed off relationships that stifle and wither. and when they do, we don't want to see it or say anything. so people suffer and wither within themselves. i just feel like the church should be different. i feel like we need to wake up...to get some perspective. i'm not saying don't get married...i hope to be married one day myself. all i'm saying is, does your union reflect the union Christ created with His people? does it invite people in or shut them out? does it resemble two people facing forward together, or facing each other? is it your ultimate mission, or does it enable a greater one?
i know a couple that i feel represent this. dean and jenny lead my pastorate, and i adore them. they are both uniquely themselves and yet totally "married". their love is simple yet clearly spoken. and it invites. never once have i felt uncomfortable in their presence, like i was imposing upon their relationship. it's their marriage that has created a foundation of love that pours out into our group and individuals. and all this i can see simply from interacting with them at group. i don't know the ins and outs of their marriage, how he folds his laundry or how she cooks spaghetti. the point is i don't need to know. you can spot a healthy marriage, a life-giving one, from miles away.
this is my prayer for zach and kristen today, and all my newly engaged friends. that they would be able walk through this next part of their journey facing forward, embracing each other yet inviting others into the joy they are experiencing. that this union brings more life than could be found separate.
*stepping off soapbox and begging for mercy from the indignant crowd*