Archive for June, 2012

A Tune-Up

I held Tom’s hand and looked him straight in the eyes.

“I think we need to talk to someone, Tom. It may hurt because change is never comfortable, but it’s kind of like an operation. It hurts at first, but when it heals, you feel better.”

We only waited a few days before we met with our good friends who also happens to be our pastor and his wife.

I explained. “You know I had a kind of ‘mission meltdown’ after I got back from Honduras. After that Tom and I had a fight I couldn’t get over. I knew that just because we’d been married for thirty years, it didn’t mean we had it all together. There were sin areas in both of our lives, and we needed help.”

I went on to confess the sin areas in my life that I’d discovered. Then we talked about Tom’s. My pastor and his wife interjected godly wisdom along the way. When we finished, they both encouraged us. Some things they said “Stop it.” (From a very funny Bob Newhart clip), other stuff they said wasn’t such a big deal.

He said, “Work on your individual relationship with the Lord, and you will have a better marriage.”

We got into our well-used mini-van and headed home. We were both smiling. We had a plan. And a purpose: to serve each other and the Lord, together.

Years ago, I wrote an article for marriage for the Tampa Bay Times. I said, “Just like delivering papers, marriage is so daily.”

It is. We have to fight for our marriage each day, each year, each decade. In this mixed-up world, we cannot afford to get lazy.

Today, I’m grateful for friends who don’t tell us what the world whispers, but shares with us God’s truths.

I found this quote from Psalm 141:5 a, “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head. Do not let my head refuse it.”

I’m glad for “smiters.” It’s like an operation and the scalpel hurts, but when it heals you feel a whole lot better.

The Spiritual Map

I suffered through ski lessons. My daughter’s best friend and I couldn’t even get up the four foot slidy hill sideways to join the class. But I huffed and puffed and fell and got up and made it to the top of the precipice all the while laughing so hard my belly shook–under five inches of downey fabric. I think the class laughed, too.

The test was to make it down the “Bunny Hill.” After three falls, I finished. I passed the Steamboat Springs beginner’s ski class. Barely. Exhausted and proud of my ski-class-accomplishment, I smiled a frozen smile.

My skiing friend, Linda, met me after class. She’d been skiing grown-up slopes while I grappled with bunnies.

“You passed?”

“Yes! Let me show you where I skied!” I grabbed the map out of her three inch thick mittens.

I surveyed the map like I was looking for Waldo. I spotted it a mere quarter inch from the bottom edge.

Outside, my frozen smile remained. Inside, I pouted. Instead of tackling another section of the run, I opted for lunch at the lodge. I took the ski lift.

I thought I’d skied a gigantic mountain when in fact my accomplishment had barely registered on the map.

I’ve found that spiritually, too. The Lord convicts me of sin, I forsake it and think I’ve accomplished something. I feel like I’m on top of the spiritual-placemat-map. Then I sin again. It’s then I realize I’m on the bunny hill.

In fact, I’m not even the one who pulls myself up to keep going. It’s the Holy Spirit. He lifts me up and encourages me along. The way he does that is through God’s Word. He might bring to mind Philipians 1:6, “And I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Or Psalm 103: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remember that we are dust.”

He knows I’m gonna fall, he helps me up, and he still loves me. I’m dust. Dust that’s formed by him.

And he knows I can’t ski.

 

Perspective

The canvas stood mocking me in my living room. For three years. Or four.

Today is the day I begin.

It’s not that I haven’t done oil painting before, it’s just at that time an art teacher helped me. When my fruit was lopsided, she explained how to straighten them. When the grapes didn’t have the right light, she mixed the colors and moved her brush lightly around the edges and poof–they were brilliant.

I sharpened a pencil, pulled out the photograph of the lake across the street, and drew even checkerboard lines. Then what? I folded the picture and decided my perspective.

I’m not even sure what that means, except that in art, it’s important. Still, I hesitated. Where to begin?

It’s like that in life, too. On the way to Starbucks to write, I travelled a different road. When I arrived, they’d renovated. My comfy seat was replaced by a twelve foot sturdy table with heavy chairs. I’m staring out the window of a busy street while scores of Scientologists in light shirts and dark pants scurry past with clipboards and folders.

I wonder what their perspective is.Two young women in work-out clothes study four chairs away. What are they studying? One girl with highlighted hair is plugged in to her computer. I wonder what’s playing.

I remember sitting at this coffee shop several years ago while my father lay in a rehab a mile away. Because of diabetes, his leg cut above the knee. I could hardly bear the sorrow. My perspective has changed dramatically since then. I’m older. I hope, wiser.

Sometimes, I’m still sorrowful. Discontent. Like today.

When I really think about it, my perspective is that I’m unhappy with the way God is running the universe.

That’s a dangerous perspective. A horrendous perspective. If 99% of the world knew my situation, they’d slap me. I have nothing to complain about.

So I go to God’s Word, the Bible. He sees my lop-sided fruit and makes it right. He shines His light on areas that are dark, and they’re brilliant.

I’m feeling better already.

I think I’ll go paint.

Not Courageous

I watched the movie Courageous with my family. We laughed, cried, and resolved to appreciate our children each day. The message to fathers everywhere was a firm admonishment to lead.

But that’s not what I learned.

If you look at I Peter 3:1-6, it’s a message to woman. Because it is inspired, it is a message to me in 2012. Submit to my husband.

Submission is not popular, but it is Biblical.

I settled that issue years ago, and frankly it’s a relief. Leading is hard work and more responsibility. But I do lead without even knowing it.

I suggest what we should do and where we should go all too often. I intervene when my 21-year-old and husband are having loud discussions. I offer opinions about how Tom should spend his time and what he should and shouldn’t watch.

While those things are not necessarily wrong in certain circumstances, but they’ve been wrong for me. The Holy Spirit is showing me my heart. It’s a heart of fear.

The suggestions I make are often rooted in a fear of what might happen if Tom chooses. When the men in my family disagree, I’m fearful that my son, Micah, will walk out of our lives forever. When I impose my values on Tom, fear reigns in my mind. What if he does something or watches something that would cause him to sin and then he won’t want me anymore.

Sad, isn’t it.

So, I made up a new word. Submigeous. (It’s pronounced sub-mi-geous.) I’ll define it for you since I invented it.

Submigeous, adjective-To courageously submit to my husband; to take the Lord at His Word that He holds the future without being frightened by any fear: Pauline submigeously went along with Tom’s plans to buy her a red mercedes convertible. (I wish.)

Back to I Peter 3, the apostle describes it as not having to have the last word in verses 1 and 2. Submigeous is being beautiful on the inside with a gentle and quiet spirit. That doesn’t mean I can’t be outgoing. I am. It means that I don’t always have to be right because I know that God is always right. It means trusting in the hierarchy of the family without being frightened by any fear.

Without being frightened by any fear is what stood out to me. Fears are different for all of us. For me, it is being submigeous when it comes to my husband and his relationship with Micah. It means not caring if you think I’m a few straws short of a bale since I’m following my husband’s lead. It means not running ahead of Tom like Rebecca did with Isaac.

She knew it was God’s will to bless Isaac over Esau, but she couldn’t trust God to make it right. She deceived her husband, estranged Esau, and never saw Isaac again.

I don’t want to learn that lesson.

The movie encouraged husband and fathers to take the lead and be courageous. The Bible encourages women to not take the lead and be submigeous.

Both take courage. Both take action. Both take God.

Because of that, I’m going to make my own Submigeous Resolution:

Resolved that I desire to obey the command to submit to my husband without being frightened by any fear, trusting God’s Word and His heart on this first day of June, in the year two-thousand and twelve.

Maybe I could star in my own movie.

On second thought, I think I’ll run that by Tom.