Created for relationships
Relationships are a really important part of my life. Chapter 4 of The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller is titled “The Mission of Marriage” and Keller starts by looking back to the first marriage in Genesis. Being created in God’s image means that we were designed for two relationships – vertical with God and horizontal, with one another. And so, God created Eve to be Adam’s ‘ezer, his ‘helper-companion,’ his friend.
I think it’s so good that our triune God wanted us to be in relationship too. Keller says “there are two features of real friendship – constancy and transparency.” (p.112), both of which are key to marriage also. Friendship is…
the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. (Craik, A Life for a Life, p.169 in Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.112)
This is such a beautiful picture. I thank my Heavenly Father for the blessing of a husband who has shown me grace like this time and time again, and for friends about whom I can confidently say – this describes you too.
Keller looks to the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and C S Lewis – who both said that even with constancy and transparency, a true friendship can’t just be about the two people involved. It has to be about something. A common purpose, vision, passion. Perhaps like a mother’s group where the babies were all born within weeks of each other – brought together by the “me too” moments as they experience motherhood week to week month to month.
For any two Christians, faith unites us. A few nights ago we met a couple who are old friends of our housemates for the first time. As soon as we learned of our common faith, the small talk wasn’t so small – and it was a privilege to hear how God has been at work in their lives and humbling to be warmly embraced and encouraged ourselves. Faith can make new friends like old ones. We’re all journeying forward to the ‘high and far’ horizon of the day when Jesus returns.
Friendship is a deep oneness that develops as two people, speaking the truth in love to each other, journey together to the same horizon. (p.116)
Not speaking nice appeasing words to avoid a fight, but the truth in love. Another blogger recently suggested “Five ways to fight your way through to a loving marriage.” Intriguing idea, but the old adage ‘the truth hurts,’ is… true. In the short term words of truth spoken in love can sting the ears and heart. Conflict can be necessary. But as we travel the journey of marriage in joyful servanthood not self-centredness, the sure hope of Christ appearing again must keep us focused on helping our spouse to be growing into the man/woman God wants them to be in the long term.
The bigger picture
My anxieties and concerns with the smaller things have often caused major blind spots to seeing the bigger picture of what God has planned for my husband and the man God is shaping. Self-centredness can be destructive to the true friendship God desires for marriage.
Adam and I talk about the bigger picture more and more these days. We wonder what God’s plans are for him this year and for the years to come and we yearn to understand what God is teaching us through this time of uncertainty.
The goal is to see something absolutely ravishing that God is making of the beloved. You see even now flashes of glory. You want to help your spouse become the person God wants him or her to be. (p.123)
Yes! That is what we journey towards. An ultimate cause which unites. From the menial to the magnificent, each day together as man and wife, we get to play a part in helping our best friend to be more like our creator God as we look forward to the day of Christ Jesus. God is at work in our spouse and sometimes he may use us, his humble vessels, to do this work.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18