“These are my life’s achievements”
“These experiences I have cherished”
Poetry got me married. My sophomore year of college I was in a social club, which was essentially a fraternity without the beer, and even some of them disregarded even that stipulation. I was a member of the group called Novus Dux, and our greek letters were Alpha Upsilon Omega. We were a group of guys dedicated to service and various other things. We had a sister group entitled L’Amifidel. Their letters were Alpha Pi Epsilon.
There were a lot of things we did together with L’Ami (as they were affectionately called). The connection between Novus Dux and L’Amifidel was pretty strong. As a result, we would periodically have days set aside in Novus Dux that would be dedicated to serving the L’Ami girls. We’d ask that all of the girls would wear their T-shirts as there were more than 50 of them, and we didn’t know ALL of them.
The goal throughout the day, whenever you saw a L’Ami girl, was that you would do something to serve them in that moment. Most of the guys would resort to the easy way out by doing things like opening the door for them or taking up their bright orange lunch tray. I chose a more interesting path…more creative…more….???...tenacious.
I went to the library and checked out a few books of sonnets and various other poetry and went out to The Valley. The Valley was an area about the size of a football field with rolling hills and green green grass and converging sidewalk pathways that generally got you to anywhere on campus. I would sit in a patch grass with my books at hand, and whenever at first glance of a L’Amifidel T-shirt, even if it were the length of the valley, I would recite poetry from the books in my most dramatic fashion.
At one point, I looked up and saw a stunning blond girl walking toward me in a blue T-shirt with the yellow greek letters Alpha Pi Epsilon on it. I saw her from a distance, and I flipped quickly to “a good one”, and knelt down and screamed as loudly and dramatically as I could. I didn’t even know her name. She gave a wry smile and eventually a hearty laugh at my idiocy that was both ridiculous AND charming.
Years later, that stunning blond would be my best friend until my 5th year of college where we started a dating relationship for a year before getting engaged to be married. Our friendship and relationship in college was included candlelit taco bell dinners and driving until we were purposefully lost. After I was married to her, we would be asked frequently the common question, “Where did you meet?” It wasn’t on a road trip with friends. She would be sure to let you know it was on a day when he read me poetry loudly and inanely in The Valley at Anderson University. Poetry got me married!
Another memory is sitting over coffee with my hero, Brennan Manning, and sitting over hotdogs a few years later. We can say we know someone by reading all their words, but there is something different that sets more concretely when you sit across a table from one another. Brennan would not have remembered our conversations, or me but those are two experiences I will not soon release. I can remember asking him what books he recommends, as I was accustomed to recommending his books to everyone. It was before I had a phone in my pocket to write down all the recommendations, which meant it was left to shitty memory, which means I’ll never know what he told me that day.
The most cherished moments in life are the ones, which set a person (or group of people) in your heart forever like drying concrete. My entire life has been so full of hard-drying moments like this I cannot help but leave very important moments and highly cherished people out of the list.
As I have been reading through Bryleigh's Bible, it has brought me to the Song of Songs. I have been very interested to see what this time and entanglement will bring for my heart as I address her in writing regarding a book that Jewish boys were not allowed to read until they became men. Today, I read chapter 2 and came across verse 15. The bride says to her lover, "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards while our vineyards are in blossom."
As The Song can be applied to both our relationship as a bride to our bridegroom, Jesus Christ, it can also be applied to the true love relationship we have with our spouse.
These foxes are any of those things which keep us from Jesus and the life He intends for us. Catch the foxes! Remove the foxes! They must be caught and removed from your relationship with God.
But they ALSO must be caught and removed from your relationship with your spouse. This is an address to husbands! Catch the foxes! Remove the foxes. They must be caught and removed. The good marriage relationship will be one in which you both, but especially the man, DOES the work of catching any foxes which hinder your relationship and your marriage.
I wrote this in the margin of Bryleigh's Bible, and it has stuck with me all day: "If your husband is unwilling to do this sort of work, I doubt his love for you."
So many men are willing to work hard to make money for the family. They are willing to protect their wife from physical harm. I have known countless men who are unwilling to do the work of catching the foxes for their marriage and their family when it comes to the actual relationship. This will require work; uncomfortable work. Your hardest day of work may not compare to the hard work you will do in addressing those things which hinder your relationship and harm your wife to a far deeper place than any physical harm would bring to her. But if you truly love your wife and your family, you must catch the foxes! You must remove the foxes.
If you are unwilling to do this, I question your love for your wife.
The question of just about any presentation of grace is the same Paul rhetorically poses, “So then should I just sin so that grace may increase? Of course not.” So what is the answer to anyone who DOES sin so that their grace may increase? What about those who will say, “I have a reason and excuse to sin. I can sin because PC said God doesn’t care what I’ve done. God will love me.” That picture is again the outstanding picture of grace that is my marriage.
I vowed to love Tonya and cherish her as a gift of God. I would be naïve to say I will always do these things without tripping up. There WILL be times I will not honor Tonya perfectly. There will be times I will not cherish her and hold her in the regard she should be held. There will be times she does not receive love from me as she needs and desires.
Now will she give up on me and divorce me? No! She will go on loving me even though I have hurt her. But that is not the deepest cut. The deepest cut comes from the fact that I will have broken an eternal covenant we set in place through spoken vows. Each time I do not love, honor and cherish her, I break a covenant. She still loves me anyway. I DON’T DESERVE THAT!!!
Now imagine you are good friends with Tonya or some other wife, and she comes continuously to you about her husband. Suppose she tells you how many times he has emotionally wrecked her with absolutely no regard. Suppose she tells you how many times he unabashedly destroys the promises he made to her. Suppose you knew these things. Are you inclined to say, “Well Tonya! That’s great! Now your grace may increase to him?”
I am compelled to realize how much grace Tonya really does show me. How much of an idiot I would be if I paid no mind of her grace and continually abused it! Sure she may always forgive me and love me, but in the end I'd only be abusive.
I see how much she forgives me and loves me despite my broken promises and I desire even more to love and serve her.
Such is God’s grace! Do I just abuse it or does his grace drive me to a realization of my disregard?
Intimacy is often defined in Christian church-talk as "Into me see". Denial of intimacy with the ones you love the most is hiding what is really inside of you. You are not willing for them to see who you really are inside, and you make all sorts of attempts to hide it all...subconsciously or not. This is not only applicable to my marriage, but to God as well. Though he already knows all that is within me, how much am I willing to reveal to him. THAT determines my desire for actual intimacy.
God, into me see!
Another great nugget is "The deeper the love, the greater the hurt." [click to tweet that] This basically means people you do not know cannot hurt you. How true if you do not know someone, you could care less what they say. But our biggest wounds and hurts are inflicted by the ones we love most.
Why does our sin hurt our God so deeply? Because he desires us and is truly in love with us. The intimate God of love is hurt deeply because he really does know us....
Why does the church hurt us so badly? Why do other Christians hurt us so badly? Why am I capable of hurting my wife more than anyone else can?
WHY IS GRACE SO BEAUTIFUL....AND TRULY HEALING?
* Back from Mexico where God did some incredible work in mine and others hearts. Broken chains! Serving the poor and deported! Watching my students present and BE the gospel in a dark, dank basement.* Still pursuing and learning about restoration in many parts of my life * Got the flu a few days ago. First time in years! * Change is imminent and on the rapidly closing horizon. * Listening to: Ascend the Hill, new Counting Crows album, and Oddisee * Reading: The Hunger Games, Simple Church, Growing Disciples, and Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl * Discouraged by: turn out of our taxes, the weight of change not exactly "resting" on your shoulders * Encouraged by: amazing wife, beautiful daughters, stronger relationships with students, hope for futur * Right NOW I miss: football, Anderson University, my nieces, and SYTYCD * Watching a lot of: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Fresh Beat Band, Whitney, and SNL
I married my dream girl I have a daughter I am smitten by I have a family who are vocally proud of who I am I have in-laws I am proud to call family I have 1.5 college degrees from expensive private universities I work with college students every day I have incredible students I have spoken and/or performed all over the country I have a day job that is VERY close to my 'dream job' I have some of the best friends I could ever wish for I lost 70+ pounds a few years ago and have not returned to "that weight" I live within 2hrs of the ocean, the desert, Tahoe, the mountains, SanFran and Fresno I had a hotdog and a coffee with Brennan Manning I have stood front row center at a Counting Crows concert I have seen 6 Counting Crows concerts I have learned life-lessons from homeless men I have jumped from a 100ft pole into nothing I still read and write with these things called pen and paper I have seen Michael Jordan play basketball twice I flush my toilet with cleaner water than most of the world ever sees My friends' dogs dress and eat better than most of the world's people My baristas know me by name (and I know theirs) I have sat in on a Second City comedy school class I was once Retweeted by Adam Duritz I get free books in exchange for writing about them. (win win) I drive a Scion xB I am a devout Mac user named PC I have tested and solidified a faith over time I have been ambushed by the love of Jesus in a way I'll never recover from.
No matter how stuck you feel or trapped you feel, you always have reason for a list like this.