This past Friday, Eric and I attended our last wedding of the summer. One of my favorite parts of wedding dances is the part where the DJ plays some slow songs and for one of them he calls couples off based on how long they’ve been married until it’s only the couples who have been together for 50-something years that remain. At this wedding, they had been married for 56 years.
My parents celebrated 31 years last December. My grandparents are at 53 (I think).
It’s hard to fathom being married for that long. To think about everything I feel like I learned in just 1 year and multiply it by 30 or 50? Wow.
It’s been easy to feel like there are some aspects of living life with Eric that I have figured out…but it’s not so much the spiritual side (like the things I talked about in Part I and Part II). It’s more so on the practical side. Thinking I’ve got some of the basics of taking care of another person figured out. But alas, it is even here that I am in desperate need of a Savior and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. We are all selfish people. And for me, that selfishness does not just appear during conflict but also in the way I cook, when I do chores, where I lay my things when I get home, what snacks we eat — and when we eat them, what we spend our money on, what we do at the end of the work day, and what we do on the weekends.
It’s amazing how many “little” things become important to talk about. When it was just me, who cared that I ate PB&J for dinner multiple times a week…or that I vegged in front of a computer screen every evening…or thought resting was ditching out on my responsibilities and watching way to many Bones episodes? Now there is somehow who notices these little habits and questions why they are there…something I had been content not asking. (Not anymore!) An important piece in answering these questions is that the answers are tailored to Eric and I specifically. There are biblical answers to broad questions like these or more specific ones like how to deal with conflict and sin but these questions of what to eat, how to spend our money, and what does our “together” time look like are all quite specific to who we are as a couple following Christ together. What are our convictions and potential idols, what purposes do we see biblically supported for each area, where are we walking in faith versus “what I deserve.”
Eric’s and my background in grocery shopping and cooking is very different. We do a lot of weight-lifting and value thinking critically about what we chose to eat. We desire to be faithful in the stewardship of our bodies while not becoming obsessed with food/health/nutrition. This has led to many conversations about what eating looks like in our family as we’ve struggled through experimenting with different eating habits that take us away from most of my favorite meals (Eric is much more flexible than I am). Personally, what have I learned? I have a lot of selfishness to work through. I tend to lean more toward the “I deserve…” side. But that has meant really good things for my heart as I become aware of how sinful I am.
Do we deserve anything? Yes. Death. But instead Jesus paid it all and we, while covered by his blood, have gained direct access to God. And eternal life.
I love in Romans where Paul talks about eating meat sacrificed to idols. It’s a part of some Christian cultures to view things of the world as evil and to be avoided at all cost lest we sin by participating (i.e. TV, sports, politics, etc). It happened with food in Paul’s day and I think it still is today. Paul’s response is that everything we do should be done in faith. If you can drink several cups of coffee per day and maintain a tight grip on the reality that it’s not caffeine that saves you but is Jesus Christ and therefore coffee is to be enjoyed to his glory, awesome! I’ve struggled with being able to do that so I have to be more conscious of my caffeine intake. But something Eric and I talk about frequently is the necessity to always think. Because sin and the deception of the devil are tricky. They sneak in and soon we have erected an idol we didn’t mean to and are now enslaved to it. So we question everything and always look for ways to change our habits so we can pursue Christ all the more.
Always changing means I’m never done learning how I can best care for my husband. What was prudent and wise last week might not be this week — not because God has changed but because our hearts are constantly being molded and given greater understanding to who God is. It’s also possible for that thing we were doing by faith last week has turned into an “I deserve” thing.
There are a lot of ways Eric and I seek to grow in our marriage this next year. Maybe someday I will make a list. But God is good and he has already mapped out what is in store for us in the coming years. And I can’t wait to see what new joys and challenges being parents will bring.
Photos we took together while celebrating our anniversary on Sunday at Centennial Lakes in Edina (by the wonderful timer setting ability of my husband):