I Love When Thugs Talk Marriage

When asked why he never was unfaithful to Joanne, Paul Newman famously replied, 
"Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?"

     Why do I love them thugs?

     And why, must I occasionally fall for them playas. Someone who's chasing the next pretty young thang. I thought I was through with this phase in high school.


     Turns out, men often stay 18 years old in the mind.

     No. Not all men.

     Just most.

     Okay. That was Bitter Betty talking.

     Let me pull back.

     But mostly, I want a man that is a thug, has a few tattoos, rough around the edges, but loves Jesus, has legit integrity, is generous, intelligent, tells me my Pinterest page is inspiring, has great style, supports my dreams, and has the heart of a teddy bear. Oh, is hot, my bestie, and can make me laugh.

     But now I mostly sound like a "Consumer".  Like my future boo is simply meant to be a product that can best serve me...you know, until the warranty runs out. Or something like that.

     Instead of looking at how my future boo will be a gift and miraculously used in the sanctification plans of God's heart for me.

     I know. I just got deep.

     But truly, marriage is not meant to be simply a "Self-serving" product, with its value placed solely on my own happiness.

     Wait. What?

     What the heck have I been expecting these past years?

     Needless to say, in 2013, I'll be reading Timothy Keller's book: The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God

“In sharp contrast with our culture, the Bible teaches that the essence of marriage is a sacrificial commitment to the good of the other. That means that love is more fundamentally action than emotion. But in talking this way, there is a danger of falling into the opposite error that characterized many ancient and traditional societies. It is possible to see marriage as merely a social transaction, a way of doing your duty to family, tribe and society. Traditional societies made the family the ultimate value in life, and so marriage was a mere transaction that helped your family's interest. By contrast, contemporary Western societies make the individual's happiness the ultimate value, and so marriage becomes primarily an experience of romantic fulfillment. But the Bible sees GOD as the supreme good - not the individual or the family - and that gives us a view of marriage that intimately unites feelings AND duty, passion AND promise. That is because at the heart of the Biblical idea of marriage is the covenant.” ― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

     I was listening to a few interviews of Timothy Keller and his wife, Kathy Keller last week, as they talked about their own story, and the complexities, purposes, and beauty of a godly marriage and I was blown away. I've been studying this topic of marriage for almost 10 years. And I had heard much of what the Keller's shared, before. But this time, I heard all of this information, as if for the the first time. And I felt a bit of conviction and shame, knowing my current motives of marriage.

      Current motives of marriage = Good sex and someone to help zip-up my dresses and sometimes cook for me and to look good next to me in photos, oh and of course help me lead my teenagers in my youth group. But notice what I listed first.

     Look. I keeps it real.

     I mean, I'm basically looking for a product, preferably at a good deal.

     Never listing what I would want to give and do for my spouse. The ways in which I could love and serve him.

     No. Instead. I'm listing the ways in which he can help fulfill my purposes and my desires. That's definitely not the full picture.

     If I've learned anything from my parents, it's that a good marriage doesn't just happen. Good marriages are cultivated, with intentionality and sacrifice.

     Not that I won't find sheer delight in my future boo, but I have to leave behind this notion of romance being absolutely effortless. Because that is simply not true.

“This principle - that your spouse should be capable of becoming your best friend - is a game changer when you address the question of compatibility in a prospective spouse. If you think of marriage largely in terms of erotic love, then compatibility means sexual chemistry and appeal. If you think of marriage largely as a way to move into the kind of social status in life you desire, then compatibility means being part of the desired social class, and perhaps common tastes and aspirations for lifestyle. The problem with these factors is that they are not durable. Physical attractiveness will wane, no matter how hard you work to delay its departure. And socio-economic status unfortunately can change almost overnight. When people think they have found compatibility based on these things, they often make the painful discovery that they have built their relationship on unstable ground. A woman "lets herself go" or a man loses his job, and the compatibility foundation falls apart.” ― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

     2012 has taught me one thing very well: I know a lot, but I don't know enough. And I definitely don't know everything.

“Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God's saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God's mercy and grace.” ― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

     I'm willing to learn again. I'm willing to admit my mistakes and my missteps. I'm willing to give this thing another go. But I think I need to take some time to listen.

     I need to listen to my own heart again. I need to listen to what God is saying about me, again. And I need to learn to trust again.

     I think that's what 2012 has been about for me. The question being: You've learned to forgive, You've learned how to get low and humble, but now can you learn to trust? "Will you trust me?" - God whispers to me.

“Real love, the Bible says, instinctively desires permanence.” ― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

     Yeah. It's one thing to forgive someone for hurting you or a crappy 2012 for being horrible. But can you trust him again, can you trust that 2012 will end better than it began? Trust is not first placed in the hands of the offender, but instead in the hand of the eternal One, the Most trustworthy one. "Will you trust me?" He whispers.

“...We must say to ourselves something like this: 'Well, when Jesus looked down from the cross, he didn't think "I am giving myself to you because you are so attractive to me." No, he was in agony, and he looked down at us - denying him, abandoning him, and betraying him - and in the greatest act of love in history, he STAYED. He said, "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing." He loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely. That is why I am going to love my spouse.' Speak to your heart like that, and then fulfill the promises you made on your wedding day.” ― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

     I think I can. I think I can trust You. All over again.

     As if nothing bad ever happened to me. Because Your love can do that.

 “When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” ― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

     I was offended. Very offended. So offended that I didn't want to believe anymore. And I definitely didn't want to trust You. Everything was tarnished, especially the dream. And now it's all impossible.

     I think that's the way You wanted it.

     Just so You could ask me again..."Will you trust me?"

     And I, with tears in my eyes, like a little child...say, "Yes."

Wisdom's Knocking:

“Only with time do we really learn who the other person is and come to love the person for him- or herself and not just for the feelings and experiences they give us.” 

― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage