Coffee Tables & More -- He cares.
In our first few years of marriage, Chris came home from work one day and asked, “Where’s the coffee table?” I stopped what I was doing, and said, “Oh, that old thing? I sold it on Facebook Marketplace.” And before I could turn around and carry on, he said, “You what?” His tone, which I was (and still very much am) in tune with, gave me the sense that he was a bit agitated with my answer. It was pretty black and white for me. I didn’t like the coffee table, so I sold it, and I had planned on getting a new one. It was clear he didn’t feel the same way. At the time, he worked long days, and we didn’t see much of him, and he didn’t see much of our house, so from my perspective, I didn’t think he’d mind if I replaced the coffee table. But it turns out he did.
In our Bible Study a few weeks ago, we were asked what our perception of marriage was like before we actually got married. My honest answer is a bit much: It was a Hallmark movie romance and a sleepover with my BEST FRIEND every night of the week. It was this idea that we’d do absolutely everything together and that we’d have the best time doing life together and being best friends. Did I mention we’d be BEST FRIENDS?! I’m laughing because the idea is pretty ridiculous. I don’t even watch Hallmark movies anymore because they clearly set me up for failure, right?! I do get a sleepover with my best friend every night, but it now includes three little people that demand things like milk and a binky at all hours of the night (not what I imagined). I also don’t want to clean up dog waste from the backyard and Chris doesn’t want to meal plan and prep every day, so the perception and reality didn't match for me.
Meanwhile my husband’s idea of marriage was to get married and have kids. But his idea of raising kids skipped over ages 0 to maybe ten? As he imagined taking them to soccer, hockey, and all the sporting things.
So as I was smothering my *bestie* with all the love, he was waiting for soccer practice to start. Needless to say, it didn’t leave a lot of room for love and grace, as we grew impatient with each other and our expectations. When we finally realized we had a problem, it felt like it was too late to fix. We began seeking help from a wise couple who we admire. They recommended the book How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich. In this, we discovered that I was a “Pleaser” and he was an “Avoider.” (I’ll link the test at the bottom).
By learning more about each other and our attachment styles, we were able to fix our relationship and communication. I realized quickly that he does in fact care if I sell the coffee table and would like to be included in decisions of the house. While he realized that he needed to give more as a husband and father and less as employee Chris. We recreated our vision of what we wanted our family to look like, and we began to put God and each other above everything else.
Part of my journey was adjusting my expectations of Chris. I wanted him to fulfill my happiness, dreams, wants, and desires, which was unrealistic. He, too, is human. He has and will make mistakes, just like me. He has and will let me down, just like I have and will let him down. But that’s the beauty of a relationship. It gives and takes, breathes in and out through ups and downs, and serves as a landing place for us to grow together into the image of Christ. From the very beginning, relationships have played an important part in mankind’s growth and development.
God has always wanted a relationship with us. The entire reason we were created was for relationship with Him. Adam and Eve walked in The Garden of Eden with God (Gen. 3:8-9), until they did the one thing He asked them not to: ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Then, in response to that, God continued to believe in and pursue His people, yet time and time again, we let Him down with murder (Gen. 4:8), scandal and misplaced worship (Gen. 6:3), selfish desires (Gen. 11:4), thwarting God’s plans with our own ways (Gen. 16:2), lust and fleshly desires (Gen. 19:4), fear and lying (Gen. 26:7), deception and theft (Gen. 27), jealousy (Gen. 37), again lustful desires and deceit (Gen. 39:7), among all the other things. These are just the events recorded in Genesis. In Exodus, we see doubt, disbelief, unappreciation, the worship of false gods, frustration, rage, and so much more. Each book of the Bible reveals just how desperate we are for a Savior. But however displeased God has been with us, He hasn’t left us. As Moses said, “The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
What a promise from God to us. Though we remain unclean for The Most High, unable to earn our right into Heaven, He bore enough love for us to reconcile the uncleanliness of our hearts, so that we could in fact be in relationship with Him. That's the purpose of Jesus: relationship. In reading Hebrews 2:9-10 we can see this demonstrated. It reads, “But we do see Jesus – made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone – crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death. For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God – all things exist for Him and through Him – should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
This is the perfect picture of relationship. If this were a marriage, God would care if we sold the coffee table. He cares about us in the deepest ways. He cares about our hearts. He cares about our decisions. He cares about our relationship with Him. He cares about our relationships with other sinners. Jesus died on a cross, bearing the weight of our sin, so that we could walk in the freedom from sin through repentance in Him. But it doesn’t just end there. As believers and followers of Jesus, we’re expected to extend the same level of grace, mercy, empathy, forgiveness, and love to everyone around us. 1 John 2:6 reads, “Those who say they live in God [believe in His forgiveness] should live their lives as Jesus did.” That’s pretty clear.
So as we head into the weekend, I want to encourage us to evaluate our relationships. Are we loving our people and those around us as Jesus does – with endless forgiveness, grace, and love? Or are we keeping records of right or wrong, letting our hearts grow hardened with bitterness, and turning from our source of love, Jesus, our Living Water, and letting others take hold of our peace, our love, and our ability to give grace freely?
Friend, relationships are hard, but you were created for them. If you’re in a tough spot with a spouse, friend, or family member, I am sorry. We all find ourselves there from time to time. God can handle it. He can redeem it. He can bring beauty from ashes, when we let Him. Breathe Him in, my sweet friend. Praying for your heart this week.