Yesterday’s sermon was on the adultery commandment. (Insert twiddling thumbs, whistling, and averted eyes.) Yipp-ee. Lovely, I thought as I scanned the bulletin for ANY other scripture texts for my “Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday” blog post.
Not a topic I’m jazzed to write about.
I am excited to celebrate our five-year anniversary this month. So, even though I’d rather avoid this topic, it’s certainly one that matters. When church people talk about marriage, they often use the word covenant. My Dictionary.com search on this term was less than encouraging. Words like “binding” and “compact” might have newlyweds wondering what they signed up for.
Ben Afleck got some bad press for saying “marriage is work” during his Academy Award acceptance speech, but some stood in solidarity, acknowledging the truth in the statement. This 4th of July weekend marked four days of togetherness for my hubby and me, no childcare, no working–no “marriage is work” type stuff–just family time dotted with fireworks and lots of coleslaw.
How could I screw that up, right?
Well, by the time Sunday rolled around, I was tired and one comment really got under my skin. Before I knew it, I was all spun up, mad over a little thing. I’m not prone to anger, but the car ride to church had my mind swimming in a stew of not-so-churchy thoughts. After praying for guidance and some sort of anger exit ramp, I remembered advice I heard years ago:
“You can either practice being right, or you can practice being kind.”
I would like to say this phrase beamed me back to marital bliss. It didn’t. I was still steamed, silently practicing phrases that I was sure would have me bouncing in the middle of the marriage spat ring with arms lifted in victory, toward roaring applause. Even though my heart didn’t feel quiet, and I really wanted to sling some of those zingers, I bit my tongue. When we got home, I did some yard work to clear the flowerbeds and my head.
Many wouldn’t put this in a blog post about “adultery,” but faithfulness is woven together through a tapestry of ordinary days. Yesterday was no different. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a feminist–not biting my tongue from mis-reading the “wives submit to your husbands” verse–but no matter male or female, in our covenant, I’m thankful for prayer when I know I’m actively screwing up something that Christ held in high esteem. He described marriage as a vision of God’s relationship with the church. When I chew on that for a minute, my grumbling about some little comment seems just that, little. Even though I didn’t mean it at the time, I begrudgingly repeated the words of St. Francis’s prayer, “I ask that I might seek more to understand than to be understood.”
As I turned out the lights and headed for bed that evening, I had a tangible sense of peace. I have no clue how I got un-mad. . . or maybe I have an inkling. Christians call it the peace that passes understanding. And that’s just it; I don’t understand it. I don’t get how God finds a way to leave my heart and marriage with peace after such an angry day. Like most things God’s given, I don’t deserve it. All I can do is lie back, close my eyes, and give thanks, singing that old hymn with new emphasis, blessed be The Tie that binds.