Our Story of Faith and Family

We were like a lot of people who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. We both grew up in church in a middle class family. It was an era when “all good families go to church.” We had very similar spiritual/church experiences.

With that culture came a lot of complacency - life was not as polarized as it is now. In that church attendance, we did not really see how the Bible made a difference in our every day life - in our homes, in our relationships. We saw the Bible more as a book of rules and history.

When we married, we did not see church or our spiritual growth as a priority. We would go to church occasionally. We also did not understand the concepts of “oneness” or of marriage being a picture of Christ and the church. Our premarital counseling consisted of an hour with a pastor, the day before we got married.

In our late 20’s,  life was not turning out as we had planned.
We came to the end of ourselves.

We were broken. 

In God's providence, we found a small church in our rural, mountain community near us. The church was the same denomination that we had both grown up in. The pastor and his wife were about our age and from the same part of the country - we were all displaced Southerners. The pastor was well-educated and taught in-depth lessons, three or four times a week. This couple ministered to us and we became close friends.

We were fortunate because we took this journey of faith together. 

Our faith became the foundation on which we built the rest of our lives - together. We changed the direction of our lives together. We began to grow spiritually together. We served together.

Shortly after that growth began, our family expanded, we had our first child. We knew that our skills and knowledge for parenting and marriage were far from what God wanted for us.

Then, our quest and our passion was to know how to live the Christ-life as a married couple and as parents. That was 35 years ago.

In this journey, we have not always done it right. 

We have struggled with parenting and marriage - but we have grown together and we did not give up! We still have disagreements but we do not let them divide us. We came to learn what true oneness means. 

We didn't always grow at the same rate. We have different spiritual gifts and different talents and different personalities. But we both continued to grow in our relationship to the Lord and with each other. We did it together!

If Christ can work in us and through us,
He can do it in you too ….. if you let HIM!

Oneness in Marriage

We are too different. 
We are living separate lives.
We don’t have anything in common. 

We have heard these words many times in our office. Sometimes, they are reasons that people divorce. Often, couples in a crisis speak them.
  • Is it a problem when a husband and wife are very different in their personalities? 
  • Do couples have to have a lot in common to stay married? 
  • Do couples need to do everything together?

Very good questions. 
The answers are no, no, and no. 

We had not been married very long when we realized how different we are. To name a few:
  • Ed likes to stay home and is content with just the company of Donna. Donna likes to be around people and is one of the last ones out the door of the church on a Sunday morning. 
  • Ed is very neat. Donna is a pilot - she piles is here and there. 
  • Donna is an optimist. Ed is a “realist” (his name for a pessimist). 

Have these differences caused problems in our marriage? YES!

We came to realize that God puts people who are different. Our differences can fit together; they do not have to isolate us from each other. 

Our differences become the gaps between our fingers that fit together. 

One strength fits into another’s weaknesses. We value our differences rather than vilifying them.

The quality that brings us together is a spiritual oneness. 

Our spirits bind us together. Oneness is not based on a feeling.

From the moment we exchanged vows, God made us one. This is what marriage is; the very word means a joining or uniting. And therein lies a way in which marriage reflects our relationship with God. 

The unity of love cannot be forged anew, for it was never forged in the first place. It was given. Suddenly it was there, and it hasn't gone anywhere.

What keeps a marriage healthy is that everything comes down to a recognition of this truth: 
   A husband and wife are one, as Christ and the Spirit are one.

Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage

THE QUALITIES of ONENESS


It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.
(C.S. Lewis’ description of love in marriage)

These words also describe a oneness in marriage - the grace of marriage that we receive from God and give to each other. “One flesh” in marriage is “two lives lived together.”

Oneness is not sameness. 
We are different, but we share our lives together. 
We have the same values and goals. 
We are headed in the same direction together.

READ more about our story and isolation in the next posts.

Defiance, Pride, and Humility

The current rhetoric on the presidential campaign trail is a prime illustration of pride and defiance.
  • I can say whatever I want. 
  • I don’t care who it offends. 
  • I am not apologizing.
What keeps a person from apologizing?

Stubborn defiance fueled by pride is the barrier for most people. In most situations, one of these scenarios is playing out:
  • I wasn’t wrong. I am not apologizing. 
  • Apologies are made by weak people.
  • I messed up but he has hurt me many times; he deserves it.
  • An apology will come back to hurt me. If I admit I was wrong, she will use it against me.
PRIDE was one of the first sins.

PRIDE has a strong hold in many of our lives.

PRIDE manifests itself in so many subtle, but lethal ways:
  • In a hidden desire for the praise and admiration of others
  • an insistence on being “right"
  • the desire to be noticed and appreciated
  • fear of rejection
  • pre-occupation with myself my feelings, my needs, my circumstances, my burdens, my desires, my successes, my failures. 
When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Why should I apologize...
if I didn’t do anything wrong?


I apologize for the hurt that I caused. I apologize to reconcile the relationship. Reconciliation is important.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud. 
Romans 12:16

Sometimes I say things that are true but the words are still hurtful. 

A good guideline to follow: Is it true? Is it loving? Is it necessary?

As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. C.S. Lewis

HUMILITY

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

HUMILITY develops through maturing in faith. Humility shows that I recognize my own desperate condition apart from God.

I can acknowledge that everything good in my life comes from Him and not from anything that I have done or can do.

In humility, I see that my value and worth in life is from and through the life of Christ in me.

At that point, admitting that I am wrong or don’t measure up to my own or other’s standards does not threaten my sense of personal worth. I do not have to prove my “right-ness,” competence, or strength.

Humility also makes forgiveness easier - whether an apology has been offered or not.

I don’t have to make the other person feel worse so that I can feel better.

See our previous post:
Apologize or not?

Related topics on problems/solutions in marriage:
Animosity and Antidotes
Friendship vs. Coexistence
Marriage Solutions
Marriage Problems