Friday, July 4, 2014

our rope

our 8th wedding anniversary is not until the end of next month, but a facebook post by a friend this morning got me thinking about marriage and choosing a life partner, here are parts of what he wrote:

"... a good wife is from the Lord" I always thought that this meant that God's role in my finding my better half was to make her out of the rib He took away from me, the fact that he would cause our paths to cross. And may be prepare her for me...but I always thought this is not enough I have a role in this too, my role is to woo this woman's heart, to try and make her safe in me as I in Him. Now after so many attempts I give up. ... It simply just doesn't work a woman's heart is far more complex to be just wooed. I have to rely on Him to do the wooing for me...

Now I always thought that my life resembled the Song of Solomon till chapter 5 ...I am sad to inform you that the greatest love song ever written doesn't end in they lived happily ever after.... It ends in a brokenhearted lover gone AWOL and a naked beaten and lost lover aimlessly wandering.

Marriage is a miracle ( this is why what God joins together no man can separate) unfortunately not all people have this miracle ( even the married ones).
So if you have this miracle be thankful and enjoy it. If you don't I have a saying to you from "Shawshank Redemption" : Get busy living.... Or get busy dying !

being on the "other side" of this continuum i disagree with a lot of what he said... marriage is a miracle only in fairy tales where it's said that you find THE ONE and you live HAPPILY ever after just because you got married out of love, actually FALLING in love

in real life, and to be more specific in the lives of Christians who are active in ministry and have a leadership role, marriage is no miracle and there's no happily ever after simply because you don't start by falling in love, a free fall, it's more of an active act of love, i'm not denying or minimizing God's role here, but the human role is gigantic, it starts not by finding the right person, but by being a person who's a right match for SEVERAL people
you might meet them all (which makes it even harder and more complicated) you might meet one or two but the timing is wrong, you might meet them and a spark appears, chemistry, admiration, crush...
this is God's work but it started way back in creation not tailored to your specific situation, men and women get attracted to one another all the time... but what you do with it is your own decision and HARD WORK... get used to hard work because you'll need it a LOT, during courtship but most importantly during the HARD journey of marriage itself... still, God's role is major and prayer is more needed now than ever, and this doesn't take place INSTEAD of hard work, but ALONG WITH hard work

so if marriage is so hard and needs THAT much work, why get married in the first place? just because God DEMANDED it? because you're incomplete till you find THE one? because married people never feel lonely?

no, i personally spent years living abroad by myself, my days were full, i compartmentalized my life into categories: college, work, church, ministry, friends, fun, recreation... i had never felt so full and complete in my life like i did back then, but at the same time i was utterly lonely, all my friends had graduated long before i even moved outside my country, some got married and had children already, i've seen some marriages fall apart and i made up my mind: "either a successful marriage or a lifetime of singleness, i can't afford a failed marriage" even though deep inside i had a longing for a partner but this longing was subject to my thoughts and i kept it under control because i knew that once my emotions get involved i'll lose control and i will no longer be able to think logically about marriage, there was a big chance i'd jump into a relationship just to fill a gap or meet a need or simply feel desperate and go with the flow.

it was during that time i met this guy when i came to Egypt for a short conference, i almost cancelled my trip and later i learned that he too wasn't planning to attend either. We stayed in touch for two years as our relationship gradually moved from one level to another but it all fell apart at some point in the middle. Why did it continue after that? Why did we get married eventually? Was it because marriage seemed the next right thing to do? the timing seemed so wrong because each one of us had specific plans for the near future, we each felt so independent and complete WITHOUT each other... so how did everything change?

the leader who recommended my name for that conference is the same person who said a quote i'll never forget: "Marriage happens between two independent people who become interdependent, a marriage between two dependent people is doomed" and that answered two major questions i had regarding marriage: Why get married? When should it happen if ever?

when a person is dependent (s/he depends on his/her parents or siblings or anyone else), and then this person gets married, s/he has false expectations about this union and each one person of the new couple expects the partner to fulfill the need for dependency hens the marriage stumbles.

but when two independent people who seem so far away from the NEED and URGE to get married, do get married, then that's a formula for success. i personally use the example of two great companies, each is successful and flourishing on its own, decide to merge. i'm no expert in economics but i KNOW that this is a GOOD thing, the future of these companies becomes very promising. each could've continued on its own so perfectly well, yet they CHOSE to merge with all the risk and work there is in this merge, yet all the potential and future too

why get married? because "A cord of three strands is not quickly broken" Ecclesiastes 4:12b. (read also verse 11 and the first part of verse 12). i like to understand this verse through a "traditional" lens and see God, my husband, and myself as the three strands of this cord called marriage. why now? (i mean then) it's because only then we were both independent enough to move to the interdependence or codependency state of marriage... still, all WHY questions can't be answered so easily and briefly, i've spent the past 8 years figuring out answers for these two questions and a whole lot of other questions, but this was the starting point for me.

now what happens after marriage, is not a Happily Ever After but actually a Hard Work Ever After, you start by making that decision of spending the rest of your life with this person then you spend every single day (sometimes hour) making equally difficult decisions for the sake of this cord, for the well being of this cord, because this cord is the family's safety net once the kids arrive, because this cord is a life rope for others you minister to (and that's why i mentioned ministry early on) because this cord is an example MANY people look up to and learn from (specially if you're a pastor's family) because you can do so many fun things with this cord and enjoy life to the maximum, because this cord will help you learn, grow, mature and become your "bestest" self "everest", because without this cord you would've been fine and complete too yet you chose THIS CORD to become YOUR LIFE from now on and there's no turning back. i'm not talking about divorce here, "turning back" starts way before divorce and there are numerous families who still live together long after they've already turned back, they turned their back on themselves, on each other, on their kids, on that cord.

i can write page after page, eight years worth of pages about marriage, but at this point in my journey, our journey, all i can say is that marriage is not a happy ending for a fairy tale, it's no solution to loneliness (this might shock some , motherhood either is no solution to loneliness) the two companies base their merge on giving and investing first before they expect any profit.

so, in your marriage,  if things are pleasant, enjoy it, if things are tough then hang on to that rope, tie a knot to help you stay there till you gather your energy to work even harder and see your marriage through this rough patch, once it's over you'll realize that it's worth it, it's worth every drop of sweat and tears and none of it goes wasted. stay true to yourself and your rope, be real, don't fake success because it makes others feel like big fat failures, we all go through struggles and when our marriage suffers, it might be for internal reasons or because of outside forces that left its impact on your relationship.

i've seen it happen a lot (the struggle part) but only a few commit to getting through it, make up your mind to commit till the end and once you pull yourself together you'll find out that you've helped many others do the same and that you've been such a blessing for them more than you imagine, more than what could've been had you pretended that all is well all the time... this is what love does, specially when it's true, mature, and strong love... when it's simply LOVE

photo cutline: found this photo online and added the verse in Arabic, then tried to find a recent photo of my husband and me... went back album after album till January 2014 and all photos included the kids!!! this fact needs a separate post in itself...

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