We are planning a wedding this year. Our youngest daughter will be getting married in June and preparations are being made for the big event. My husband and I will be celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary in just a few days and sometimes it seems like just yesterday we were Sarah and Nat, getting to know each other, just learning to live with each other, living out the two become one flesh life.
I've contemplated often about marriage and the many ways in which God uses marriage as a visual for the church. I've also often thought about how different my husband and I are from each other. The biggest difference being, he's a boy and I'm a girl. We have spent many years recognizing that fact alone in our getting along with each other.
My husband, Tim, sees life through a male view. I see life through a female view. There is nothing in all the world I can do to change those two facts. On top of that major difference, then we have our personalities to further challenge our union. Tim is an introvert, I am an extrovert. Another quirk that neither of us can change about the other.
There are times when our differences come in handy and times that our differences drive the other one crazy. We can look at the same color of a flower, for example, and what I see as yellow, he may see as orange. (This may be a bad example, but I think you get my point). There are so many differences in us that will never, can never be changed. But, through God's miraculous design, our differences can complement each other in some very cool ways.
Even after 27 years of marriage we still find new things that we think differently about, we analyze differently, we are bothered by more than others. It's the way things are. But I don't love Tim any less for not being able to think like me. Nor do I think he's an idiot for not thinking like me.
So when I think about marriage, I think about the Body of Christ that way, and I think about our country that way too.
We are a country made up of differences. We can't change where people were born, what their family life was like, what their struggles were, where their parents took them to church or didn't take them. We can't change some inborn beliefs they have that were passed down via their parents, their culture, their circumstances. We can't change their skin color, their eye color, their shoe size.
But we sure spend a lot of time trying to change the unchangeable don't we? I'm guilty of it.
One of the things that I love about Jesus is the ability he had to cross cultural barriers and care about the ones that were so "different" than he was. He stepped through his parents religion, his culture, his upbringing, his "church", and reached out to the world. And the coolest thing about him being able to do this is that he never once had to compromise who he was. Not once. He could step into a Samaritan's woman's life and never feel the need to apologize to his fellow Jews. He just crossed over to her life and to so many other lives.
The other cool thing is that we know that he was tempted in every way we are...yet did not sin. He was tempted to not talk to the Samaritans, to the Gentiles. He was tempted. I am tempted so many times to not talk to those who don't think like I do, don't look like me, who live lifestyles so very different than mine. It is a temptation everyday. And Jesus was tempted too.
Where would I be today if he hadn't stepped across the Jewish culture into the Gentile world in which I'm a part?
What does this mean today in this chaotic world of in-between? We have a culture war going on in our country that is flamed by media. We have so many groups now, don't we? It used to be just the basics. Black, white, democrat, republican. I remember those being the most used words growing up. Now we have Latino, left wing, right wing, conservative, liberal, bleeding heart liberal, conservative republican, independent, gay, straight, divorced, blended family. So many new titles that we all try to find the banner to stand under.
Sometimes I just want to do a Charlie Brown thing and yell, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
But we all have so many more things in common than we realize. To borrow a phrase from a bestselling book - "Everybody poops."
Everybody needs oxygen.
Everybody needs blood.
Everybody has purpose.
Everybody has hurt.
Everybody has dreams.
Everybody has regrets.
Everybody has a brain that thinks.
Everybody has a mother.
Everybody has a father.
Everybody has a history.
So many misunderstandings, misjudgments of others. So many assumptions made when all it would take is for us to slow the mudslinging down and say, "why do you believe that?" or "How personally did you come to believe this?"
We have so much media to use. Facebook, Twitter, email, 24 hour news, a constant plethora of people voicing their opinions. But what we don't have is anyone listening. I am guilty of this too. We don't have conversations where one person talks while the other one listens. And really listens. Not just thinking of what they're going to say when the other one stops talking.
Just because you don't see things they way I do and I don't see things the way you do, doesn't mean that we don't have value and our beliefs don't matter.
It just means that we are different.
I want to listen more and talk less. I want to know why your political views matter to you. Why your belief system is your belief system. I want to know what matters to you and why it matters to you. And, I want to know my convictions matter to you. I'm not asking you to agree with my convictions, I just want to know, and I think we all want to know, is that it matters to you where I'm coming from.
See, I don't have to compromise my beliefs by listening. I just have to listen.
I don't have to try to change the way you think, I just want to know why you think the way you think.
What would happen if our little corners of the world started listening. Keeping the emotion, the judgment, the assumption, in the background. What would happen if we started listening to each other instead of what the media tells us we should be listening to or how we should think about something?
I know my bleeding heart liberal friends are not the way they are because they just decided to become one. They have had a journey, a path that has led them to their beliefs as I have had a path that has led me to a more conservative worldview. I don't think we have to assume that we'll talk and then we'll "agree to disagree", but I think that we can try and understand where the other is coming from more than we can just avoid talking to those who think differently.
It would be so boring if Tim were just like me. For one thing, we'd be poor. We'd be jumping from one project to another and never get any done. We'd have a house of animals. We'd always have a head in a book and not outside enjoying the outdoors. Boring!
Tim loves me and puts up with the things about me that drive him crazy. We don't always agree. But we respect each other's opinions, even when we don't agree, we respect each other. Marriage is the opportunity we have to practice getting along with the rest of the world. But it seems like what is going on today is everyone is still in the sandbox and throwing sand at each other.