For Our Better or for Our Worse
I admit that I was by no means naive when Jusje and I married in April of 2009. I knew from well-tested experience that circumstances can suck. Really, really, really suck. That sometimes—perhaps most times— the "poorer" would eclipse "richer;" that "sickness" would always seem a more intimate companion than "health." I had no illusion that marriage would fix anything—at least, not in the conventional reasoning of the term. I knew it was for my sanctification, a process made difficult by the craftsman, in his ultimate wisdom, to bring me closer to him as I struggled through marriage's more grisly spots.
But here's what I didn't get: Worse doesn't necessarily mean life's worst, but rather his worse and my worse. It didn't always require outside forces to tear at our defenses when inside ones are so much more effective. This kills me. I don't believe there is anything quite as frustrating and as crippling as feeling unloved, isolated, uncared for, taken advantage of, used, deceived, and overlooked by your love. And, to be fair, everyone, at one time or another, creates these arenas of emotional butchery for their husband / wife / boyfriend / girlfriend. We're human, which means we are, at our most intrinsic level, breed for self aggrandizement at the expense of others. After all, isn't my country's security more important than yours? Isn't my state's liberties more crucial than yours? Isn't my family's ability to eat and sustain itself in healthy, happy living more needed than that of your family? Aren't my needs, my cravings, my ambitions, and my feelings so much more vital, more intense, more necessarily satisfied than yours? (Naturally, I'm being facetious. Few would actually say any of this, but we sure live like it's true.)
So this is the problem—there's me and then there's my husband. I want this thing. He wants that thing. He NEEDS that thing. I'll DIE if I don't get this thing. Doesn't he KNOW that?! If he loved me, wouldn't he GIVE it to me? Because he doesn't give it, doesn't that mean he doesn't love me? And if love is why we got married in the first place, then why do I have to put up with this?! I mean, I'm educated, young, ambitious, and a freakin' AMERICAN! Can't I have what I want. No, don't I DESERVE to have what I want? Don't I DESERVE to be happy?!
In the concise eloquence of God: "No."
No. No. No. No.
And this truth = God's scalpel, cutting with deliberate precision the districts of rebellion in my heart. He keeps telling more over and over again, though I try and cover my ears and hum stubbornly, "You don't deserve to be happy. You don't deserve anything. You didn't make you. You didn't give you talents, a personality, a family, a place to live. You have no control over anything. I give you happiness or conflict or pain or times of celebration out of my great love for you and my great love of myself—to show you and the world my power, grace, redemptive love, mercy, and supremacy over everything, for my ultimate joy and for yours."
And what can I say to that but, "God, have mercy on me, for I am a sinner."
"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed abouta himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”" - Luke 18: 10-14
" For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." - Matt. 6:14-15