Thursday, June 19, 2014

Marriage on the Diamond...

As a certified, card carrying "older" wife, here are a few of my lessons from the dugout. That's a spot just right or left of home plate for those of you who weren't baseball moms. It's where players strategize, mentally assess, bite nails, fuss, spit, chew and sometimes cuss as they await their chance to shine--or strike-out.

We all marry with great expectations of happily-ever-after-grand slam winner's circle unions. In our imaginary futures there are no fouls, strike-outs, or forfeits. We are a couple of shining stars on the diamond!

Unfortunately, I'm having frequent conversations with younger women who are disillusioned by what they perceive to be game-ending shutouts and teammate (or personal) strike-outs.

What gives? Why aren't our fantasy teams winning? I'd like to offer a few possible reasons and remedies.

1. Hollywood said our men are supposed to complete us. If this isn't some bull durham I've not heard any. To think that another human is capable of completing us is strike one. There is only One who can complete us and His name isn't "insert your husband's name here."  The idea that two halves make a whole works in math and pie eating contests. In marriage, not so much. If you weren't whole when you married him, he can't fix that (and vice versa). You, however, can remedy this "foul" in your own life by fixing your eyes on Christ. He will fill empty spaces and realign your thinking if unmet expectations have created a void or caused unhappiness. The only reason this won't work is if it isn't tried. Scripture is packed with examples of empty lives that, once regenerated and captivated by the overwhelming sufficiency of our sacrificial Savior, are forever transformed. And complete.

2.  You've forgotten that your heart tells lies that your head often believes. Remember that little verse from Jeremiah 17:9? “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" NLT

When you fixate on the idea that your friend's husband (or a male co-worker, neighbor or stranger) is more compassionate, more loving, more generous, more complimentary, more virile, more "whatever is better" than your own, you're in for a world of trouble. It's easy to forget that we have an enemy who hates us and our marriages. According to scripture he prowls around like a lion seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8) and John 10:10 tells us his mission is to steal, kill and destroy.

This enemy has an arsenal of the world's weapons at his disposal. Social media, television, romance novels, the neighborhood gossip, magazines, blogs, and even our past experiences are very adept at convincing us that our reality is far less glamorous than everyone else's. These troubling messages, strike two if you will, are not easily ignored. Overcoming lies with truth is the only remedy, but if our heads and hearts are more filled with the things of the world than with The Word, our opponent (the enemy) may be pitching a no hitter.

3.  Strike three usually happens when we over think. Knowing it's our last chance at bat can cloud cognition. This whole game is riding on MY shoulders, or, Why can't I ever catch a break?, or, It was HIS turn at bat, not mine!, or It's not my fault if I strike out, I asked for a pinch hitter!-- you get the idea.

Forgetting that marriage is a partnership (or team sport) and allowing hostility or anxiety to escalate because of communication breakdowns often leads to a most tragic loss. And what exactly do we lose? The potential that exists when two people come together in covenant marriage is unmatched. Marriage is God's idea. It is a most vivid picture of the union binding Jesus Christ to His bride, the church.

For this reason, comparing our marriages to the game of baseball is probably ill advised. After all, we should view this most sacred covenant as something far more significant than a game--but isn't that often how we treat marriage? We think we'll just quit the team. Join another. Kick some dirt, shout some expletives and be done with the whole darn thing. It's just not worth it because life is too short and we'd be more appreciated on a different team that perceives our true worth.

To every woman who is in a dreadful marriage that is draining the life out of you, I pray that your heart will be filled to overflowing with reminders of how precious you are in the sight of the God who has numbered the very hairs on your head. I pray that supernatural wisdom guides all of your decisions and that your husband becomes aware of his negligence or abuse. I encourage you to get professional help if this describes your circumstances. But this post was not written for you.

I'm writing to the wife who is bored and frustrated and tired and distracted and dissatisfied because of unmet expectations and disillusionment with the man she once promised "for better or worse" to, and now finds herself emotionally detached from. Friend, stop waiting for him to complete you. Stop comparing and contrasting. Stop over-thinking and over-analyzing!

This morning an old song played on my iPod shuffle. One of the lines says: " make me feel like I'm more than a friend. Like I'm the journey and you're the journey's end. We may never pass this way again, that's why I want it with you."

Remember when you felt that way about your husband? You had to have felt that way at one time or you would never have said, "I do!" RIGHT?

Think that way again! 2 Corinthians 10 tells us that we can take every thought captive. Stop allowing your opponent (the enemy) to intimidate and dominate. You are equipped by God's grace to win the matrimonial world series, but this is so much more than a game. Your marriage is a tapestry that will be woven into a fine work of museum quality art if you allow the Master Artist to be your coach. Then, your "diamond" will be brilliant in spite of every flaw and home plate will never have seemed better. Game over, you win!

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