ponder | euripides

never say that marriage has more of joy than pain.


let us consider this for a moment.  kind of flies in the face of cinderella's castle and wedded bliss, huh?  how do we feel about this outlook?  does it rub us the wrong way?  or is it actually appealing?  refreshing?  real?

the six-year-old dress-up disney princess dreamer in me cringes a bit.  "how wildly unromantic," says she.  "where's the happily ever after in that?"  leave it to an ancient, tragic poet to cast a pall on the whole nuptial image.  isn't it all just a bit too pragmatic?  negative, even?

hmmm...is it?

or is there an acute wisdom to it?

what would happen if more starry-eyed couples pondered this?  if we entered into this sacred covenant without pretense or nonsense, as flawed folks relying on grace alone?  would we have better outcomes?  would fewer dare to take the plunge if they knew the depths to which they would have to swim?  would our marriages be more fruitful?  purposeful?

do we dare probe the recesses?  do we unearth the ugly?  do we lift the veil and expose the true visage?  sure, that romantic haze is lovely.  a gift.  it is all fresh and fun and sweet.  but, when that lifts...what lies beneath?  the authentic self is revealed in the tough times.  and that self is utterly selfish unless time has been spent cultivating grace.  humility.

are we tying the knot honestly or hastily?  have we taken adequate time to explore what it looks like to love another and serve another and give to another?  to align visions and submit to one another?  to walk through the valley of the shadow?  to forgive.  to endure.

sure, some of marriage is OTJ training.  {and yes, the J stands for JOB.  there is work and labor involved.  this is a great calling, something which will require your setting your whole being to the task.  but oh!  how gloriously worth the effort.}  and while you shouldn't assume that you have it all figured out at the altar, you should arrive on site having prepared.  taken the time to read the manual.  to interview those with experience.  and, you need to know the requirements.  my fear is that we have erred when it comes to understanding the requirements.  if we misunderstand the purpose of marriage, we miss the whole thing.  we labor in vain.  but if we know what we are entering into and why, we ascribe proper reverence to the institution.  we act accordingly.  we approach it carefully.  we engage wisely.

eek, this is brutal, rachel.  lighten up.

isn't that our tendency?  but why is lightening up always better?  preferred, perhaps.  easier, yes.  but, important things should be held tightly and given a place of significance.  yes, marriage is the best.  it is fun.  there is MUCH joy.  having your best friend with you all the time is sublime.  laughing and sharing.  a family.  but the good things in life, these blessings are given to be cherished.  shouldn't such a splendidly weighty thing inspire a higher level of thought and effort?

marriage gives us a partner for the journey.  but the journey isn't always easy.  it isn't meant to be.  it is meant to challenge us and refine us.  the times of shadow make us more appreciative of the light.  if we dig in, we can flourish all the more.  while i haven't experienced all the hardships that this life has to offer, i can say that i am grateful for those things which we have come through.  the fact that we emerged on the other side means that we have won.  we can stand on the battleground and claim it as a place of victory.  and, it better equips us for the future.  pain and struggle make you more sensitive to the afflictions of others.  these things help you to love better.  the fire strips away the flesh.  and praise God for that!  strip that stuff away and reveal the gold.

and you know what else?  a little bit of pain is good for you.  blood, sweat, tears.  these are purifying, healing.  and just think about weight lifting or marathoning or giving birth.  there is pain, absolutely.  but it isn't a negative.  the pain is an instrument.  it builds.  it exercises.  it strengthens.  it opens.  it produces something worthy, something beautiful.  something better.  maybe our marriages need a good sweat session.  maybe our marriages need to feel the burn deep in the marrow.  maybe our marriages need to be pulled and ripped in places so that they can be rebuilt with a stronger and healthier substance.  maybe our marriages need more stretch marks.

okay, but what about the dripping candles and romance-y things.

oh yes, there is a precious place for all that.  but marriage is deeper than a box of chocolates.  you know what's romantic?  a wife falling on her face in prayer for her husband.  a husband forgiving the inexcusable acts of his wife.  a wife moving to another city to support her husband's dreams.  a husband shaving his head in support of his wife's rough road of chemotherapy.   a wife setting aside her pride and seeking counseling.  a husband vowing to love, honor, and cherish his new wife as well as her three children who have been abandoned by their father.

you don't see these moments printed on wedding cards.  but these, these are the moments that make a marriage.  this is the stuff of life.  and i would rather have a marriage marked by the nitty-gritty and real than any platitude from Hallmark.  i will take the true gold that has been revealed through the fire of trials and tribulations to any fairytale trinket that this world offers, no matter how gilded it may be.  call me a romantic...

p.s. i realize that two heavy-ish posts in a row is like, WOAH.

fret not, there is levity to come.  there is always levity to come.

thanks for pondering with me for a spell.