Canyons and Thorns (Lent, Day 24)

While washing the dishes last night, I thought about all the ways people justify divorce.

Some have zero problem with it whatsoever—if they ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Others believe it’s justifiable for the three big A’s: Adultery, Abuse, Addiction.

Still others think you stick it out til death do you part, no matter what. Ride or die.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve pondered all the decade and longer marriages I’ve witnessed.

Here’s the sad truth: there aren’t many long marriages I’ve seen that I’d want my own marriage to emulate.

I’ve been wondering if that is simply the way marriage is, if it’s just one big exercise in suffering and patience, or if it’s only the marriages I’ve personally witnessed.

I hear all kinds of chatter on the world wide web these days about the Sanctity of marriage, Biblical marriage, they call it.

I cannot understand for the life of me what that even means.

I’ve read my Bible at least six times, and I’ve yet to see a picture of what Biblical marriage looks like.

There’s polygamy, adultery, fornication, prostitution and a whole lot more. (Honestly, the Bible should be stamped with an explicit warning. Half the people in the Bible would have seen their names on the Ashley Madison list.)

I understand the concept of joining one man to one woman, of two becoming one flesh (in other words, having children). I just haven’t seen that play out in real life to any satisfactory advantage.

Understand, I’m not trying to degrade “traditional” marriage. Nor am I defending anyone who has committed marital sin (which, I’m willing to bet, all of us married folk have in one way or another).

But don’t we reach a point in marriage where the veil is torn and we’re left with only our vow to God to stick it out?

Maybe we find our way back to each other.

Maybe we never do, and we just accept that life is what it is.

Maybe we go our separate ways.

I honestly don’t know.

What about you?

Maybe after some back and forth with God, you’ve reached a place in your marriage where you’ve thrown your hands up and said, “I can’t fix this.”

Maybe you’re worried that’s where God wants you to be, that He’s trying to kill something you’re trying to save, like David and Bathsheba’s infant son. He’s saying, “Let this go, child,” or “It’s run its course, beloved,” but you’re too afraid to ask what He means.

I think at some point during marriage we all reach that deep canyon of the unfixable, and we’re left with three choices:

To walk backwards, which can be detrimental to your marriage and yourself. Always rehashing the same old fights and the same old worries and the same old issues is exhausting, but so many of us do.

To step around the canyon, carefully tiptoeing beside the deep chasm of pain that is right before your very eyes, praying you will get to the other side in one piece and with some small snippet of love left for each other, despite the deep hole of issues you’ve so delicately stepped around, hoping to avoid.

Or to jump, to dive right into that deep, deep drop in front of you, unsure of what lies at the bottom but so sure you can’t go back and would rather die than to tiptoe around these issues another second. You’ve become more afraid of life staying the way it is than of the rock bottom and those pesky thorns that will greet you when your feet land.

Sometimes God leaves them there, the pesky thorns, that deep canyon. Despite what the American Evangelical Church believes, he doesn’t always fix our issues this side of Heaven.

That’s okay. And yet, because we want him to fix every single fallen piece of this world and make it perfect for us, we make idols out of tangible things like marriage or even the Bible and we use them to crucify others.

We act a little too much like the Pharisees and not quite enough like Jesus.

We justify hating action we don’t personally struggle with.

We spout phrases like, “Hate the sin; love the sinner.”

While we’re on our second husband, or maybe our first husband but twentieth lover, or flirting with that coworker a little too much, or perusing that website, or stuffing our faces like gluttons, or gossiping or anything else we do, we’re busy preaching the Sanctity of Biblical marriage.

We forget that we all cherry pick the Bible. We choose the verses we want to take literally, and we beat the hell out of others with them.

We ignore that Jesus promised his burden was light.

That he wanted us to believe him at his word.

That he was and still is LOVE, the very definition of it.

After every thorn and canyon I’ve found myself bearing and jumping over in almost fourteen years of marriage, I have no judgment.

Not for the single girl trying to find love.

Not for the guy who has found himself in the midst of an affair.

Not for anyone trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into this imperfect world.**

Instead, I’ll offer the only advice I’ve learned thus far:

Marriage is not for the faint of heart. 

See you soon,


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