Monday, September 22, 2014

Marital advice from Jesus

Let me start by saying, I am certainly not the most religious person. I enjoy going to church on Christmas and Easter but I'm not exactly sure what my beliefs are. Rationally, I don't really believe in te tenants of Christianity (or any religion) but on an emotional level, I am often moved by church services. Sometimes, I feel like perhaps I should write off religion completely, but I feel like that emotional pull is there for some reason. Who knows. What I'm trying so say is that I am by no means knowledgeable about god/Jesus/the bible/the church/Christianity. This post is just purely my feelings and observations. 

Tonight in my theology class, we were dissecting the gospel of Luke. Specifically, we were discussing the parable of the Good Samaritan. Of course I had heard the story a million times growing up, but I had honestly never given it too much thought. In the story, a man asks Jesus how to get into heaven (or something like that) and Jesus reminds the man of the Hebrew law that states to love ones neighbor as oneself. The man then asks Jesus "well, who is my neighbor?" To which Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan. 

The key here, which had previously sailed  over my head, is what Jesus doesn't say. He does not tell the man who the neighbor is, but instead, how the man himself should be the good neighbor. Essentially saying don't worry about who you need to love, just love. Love everyone. 

Here, my professor interjected saying that this is one of the key teachings of Jesus. The idea of loving everyone. Giving without receiving. Putting the other before the self. 

This immediately made me think of my husband. Life has been hectic for us lately. I feel like we are under constant stress. There is never enough time in the day. Caleb often stay up past midnight working on homework. We are lucky to have enough time for a quick kiss and cuddle at the end of the day. 

Because of all this stress and lack of down time, we often find ourselves quickly annoyed and angered. We argue more than I would like. I sometimes feel hurt by our lack of communication and Caleb often feels frustrated. It is hard on us as a couple. 

One thing that I have recently been trying is the very thing Jesus was talking about. I try my very hardest to love Caleb, even if I don't feel like he is deserving at that moment. 

We had a section of Collisians read at our wedding that mentions love, forgiveness, gentleness, and kindness. At the time, I probably did not understand what that meant, to continually give forgiveness and kindness. But I'm starting to see. 

Caleb makes me annoyed or angry a lot. Probably on a daily basis. It is my human nature to want to express that anger. And before recently, I would. We would argue and eventually apologize, but both our days were ruined by the fight. After so many of these blow ups, I decided to do a little self reflecting. And I realized that while I cannot make Caleb stop being so fucking irritating sometimes, I can stop my primal response. I do not have to respond with anger. My mantra has become "Kindness."  

I now try to be gentle and loving, despite how I may be feeling on the inside. And honestly, fake it til I make it. When Caleb is upset or hurt or angry, I remind myself that I can show my love for my husband most effectively in these moments by giving him grace and kindness and gentleness. 

By no means is this easy. I constantly fail. It is hard to put myself second. It is hard to be patient and kind and gentle. 

I am certainly NOT saying I put on a fake smile for my husband and never tell him how I feel. That is just as harmful as arguing. But when tensions are high, like they often are around here these days, I'm learning that the best thing I can do for my marriage is to love. Without discrimination. I let things go. I let my pride and ego go. 

My professor also said something in this discussion of the Good Samaritan that really hit me. He said that we have absolutely no way of knowing if anyone loves us. BUT we are able to give all our love to everyone. The beauty is not in recieving love, but giving love. I certainly hope Caleb loves me, but that really isn't the point. The point, the thing that makes life worth living, is that I love him wholly and completely. There is something special, maybe even holy or sacramental, in that vulnerability. The whole idea of the dying of the self for the sake of the other. That's big, heavy stuff and it feels important to me. 

So I never would have guessed I would have found such meaning and wisdom from the Bible. Especially not marital advice. But it has shown me that the constant grace I strive to give my husband is meaningful and beautiful. 


  1. My husband and I aren't particularly religious either. Although, I do love parts of the Bible. (Unrelated, but if you ever get the chance, check out the Tao Te Ching. It has some very pretty verses, too.) I was raised Methodist, and we we're taught that God is love until it was time to apply that message to the real world. Then it was God is love unless.... unless you're gay, unless you are part of a different faith, unless you've had an abortion, unless, unless, unless. We believe in love. Loving others for exactly who they are, and it is a very rewarding way of life.

    One of my absolute favorite quotes is by Ram Dass, he says, "When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are."

    I'm sorry to hear that y'all are having a rough time of it lately. I'm sure it's probably extra stressful with a toddler (who I swear gets bigger with every picture you post!) and getting used to your new schedule. I know when something significant changes around here, we go through an adjustment period where we fuss a lot, A LOT. We try to do at least one loving thing for each other every single day. Even something simple, like writing him a note when I'm thinking about him helps. Sometime's he'll stop and get me a Snickers on the way home because he knows they're my favorite. We both have pretty strong, stubborn personalities, and it's really easy to butt heads, but he's my best friend. I choose him, and he chooses me every single day. Literally, he'll tell me that he chooses me that day, (Kinda makes me feel like a pokemon, "I choose you, Pikachu") but that's what works for us. I sincerely hope things get better for you and your family soon!