Tuesday, August 10, 2010

walking the fence.

My anniversary is coming up... it's August 17th- on that day we will celebrate 19 years of wedded wonderment. I'm looking forward to a weekend getaway, some time to be with my man and look back in appreciation of the miracle of lasting another year together.

but this isn't exactly a post about that.

begin rant//

It's about the Christian marriages that are falling apart around me. Three that I can think of at this very moment are either over or crumbling quickly. These aren't the first couples to throw in the towels from our circle of friends, but they're falling faster and faster the longer we're in the game. Another one bit the dust today.

I don't take divorce well. I'm not sure if it's attached to leftover fallout from being raised in a single parent home, or because I know it grieves the heart of God, or if it's just one of my little quirks... likely a combination of all three. I am sure of this: I hate it.  Today I have a horrible knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat and a dull ache in my heart. I hate that satan gets even small victories.

Whenever this happens, I obsessively look at the state of MY union. Are we okay? I'll ask my husband. Are you happy? I'll check in with God... Am I doing all that I should? I run myself through a set of proofs and tests to make sure I'm not in danger. I fear that I could be falling off the cliff without even realize I'd wandered so closely to the edge... You'll tell me, right? I beg my close friends- You have my permission to call me out if you see me being stupid. I am not a complete idiot- I know that 'there but for the Grace of God go I.' I know I could fall easily and quickly if it weren't for all the safeguards I've been graciously given.

Honestly? I saw each one of the three trainwrecks happening waaaay before they got here. I watched as one spouse from each pair toed the "All things are lawful" line.  I watched each one hone an attitude of 'I don't need to be a stereotypical goody goody legalistic Christian to prove I'm saved.' And as I warned (sometimes too loudly, sometimes not loudly enough) and as I watched (often too silently, too often through a naive veil of optimism) they climbed up on the fence- teetering precariously between a godly lifestyle and the ways of the world ... not all at once but bit by bit by bit. The path to 'the fence' is paved by compromise after compromise after compromise. And then as they reached the top of the fence they had a perfect view of....

the other side of the fence.

you know, that place where the grass is greener? The land populated by people who are cuter, stronger, hotter, more understanding, more available, better at listening, neater, smarter, funnier, even more godly than the ones who live on your side of the fence? The place where all the promises you made to your spouse, your children, your God are suddenly not half as important as your own happiness?

And then, suddenly contentment... the thing that each of us struggles with all the time... becomes impossible to find. It's like it can't survive in the land of 'I deserve better than this' so it goes completely out like a candle in a deep coal mine. Once it's out, there is no reasoning that can shine through. Once contentment is gone, it's just a matter of time before they jump off into this fictional land of perfection, leaving behind the wake of hurting people.

I suppose shouldn't be shocked. Statistics show that Christian marriages crash and burn just as often as nonchristian ones. I know that. I can totally see why someone who isn't a believer would bail out of marriage. It's hard.

But for those of us who profess to follow Christ this is absolutely heartbreaking. We have all the tools we need to keep us from that dangerous place. In fact, God clearly drew a line between good behaviors and bad behaviors for a reason... not to keep us 'fenced in' but to keep us safe... to keep us out of the land of do-as-we-please so we don't wander off there and get ourselves hurt. Our enemy satan tries to whisper lies of compromise and rebellion into our hearts and we end up in the same old trap- not just with devastated families and friends but with a heart that thinks they no longer can/want to face God.

and then stupid satan wins.

and that's dumb.

My friends... my Christian married friends... back away from the fence. Know what you believe. Stay away from the grey areas. Don't get even a 'little' drunk. Don't flirt even 'harmlessly.' Don't read trashy romances/look at racy magazines. Don't hang out with your friends who trash their spouses. Don't keep relationships up with someone of the opposite sex separate from your spouses, don't linger where you know you don't belong. Instead, spend time with your family. Invest in the people you promised 'til death do us part.' Hang out with friends who encourage you to draw closer to God. Purpose to love your people. Read your Bible. Pray for your husband or wife- even if they're not perfect or behaving perfectly or all that you dreamed- pray every.single.day.

It's not about what we're 'allowed' or 'not allowed' to do as a Christian. It's about what will contribute to taking care of the greenery on the side of the fence where we get to live under the shelter of the wing of the Almighty. Ya'll, we get to live in a land that God sent His only Son to die so we can be a citizen here... why do we keep gravitating toward the edge of darkness?

let it not be so.


//end rant.

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. 
And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” 
I must not become a slave to anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12



Becky said...

Well said! Looove your rants!

Back away from the fence!

This post totally reminded me of that verse at the end of James (5:19-20) "My brothers, if one of you should wnder from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins."

Melissa Stover said...

good rant. i'm sad for those people with you. all the broken families and hurt children. it's easy to loose focus and set your eyes over the fence. i did that early in my marriage before kids. but god pulled me out of the fire and, even in the hard times, i know it was the right path.

Sheryl said...

great "rant"...and as one who has been on both sides of the fence, i also want to say that this doesn't just apply to marriages. we ALL need to back away from the fence. it's a slippery slope!!

love ya girlie!

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

You rant better than anyone I know.

My heart is sad from some friends who aren't happy in their marriages. And I have several. I pray for them often because I'm afraid that they've resigned themselves to the 'other side of the fence'.

Your words are excellent, Amber. Thanks for sharing. And happy early anniversary to you!

Deena said...

Great post!

This is a great reminder to all Christian women to make sure to stay away from the fence, and be intentional about investing in the husband that God has given us.

This is my first time to comment. I follow you on twitter. I'm friends IRL with Meredith, Susan and Amy.

Prayed for you this weekend during Harvest. We love Greg Laurie. Do you attend HCF, or did you just go to the crusade? I would love to see a blog post about going to Harvest.

His Girl said...

Hi Deena!
Every friend of Meredith, Susan and Amy is a friend of mine!

No, I don't attend Harvest. My church is south of Riverside, though only about a half hour away. I do love Pastor Greg very much, and think it would be a great idea to post about the crusade. I should pray about what I would even say.

Thanks for stopping by and ESPECIALLY for praying... come back in the next week- I'll see what I can come up with about the Harvest Crusade :)

God's Guitar Girl said...

"The path to 'the fence' is paved by compromise after compromise after compromise." I also call that "rationalizing" or "justifying". This is some srsly good junk, my friend. It reminds me of Matthew 7:13-14 -- "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Jenster said...

I'll testify! I'm watching the same thing from my perch and it's so sad.

Not to get too personal or in depth, but my own marriage is going through a "phase" right now. I think it has a lot to do with a type of PTSD (now that things are finally "normal") and a new stage of parenting, but it's a bit of a rough patch.

But we love each other tremendously and we love God and are so grateful for how much He's blessed us. And I think our rough patches might be a normal way of life for a large number of marriages. The difference is that we acknowledge it and do something about it - relying on God to get us through (which, true to form, He's doing magnificently right now).

And He always (after 22 years there have been more than the one rough patch) provides. How easy would it be, though, to not acknowledge the problem, not give it to God, and just keep climbing up that fence?

Marriage requires diligence. It is the most important relationship other than our relationship with God. Why don't people understand that?

Whew! Sorry. I didn't mean to write a post here. You just touched a nerve. Thanks for letting me blab!

Happy Anniversary and thank you so much for your godly insight and putting it into words that are so easily understandable! Have I told you lately how much you rock??

JoAn's Place said...

Happy Anniversary Amber & Hubby! what a blessed milestone. Such a great perspective of marriage and the choices we need to make to stay in and water our rough patches so they grow greener and brighter than the other-side of the fence. God has given us free will to choose and Christians should choose to stay and get out the tools that are need to tend the grass on the heavenly side of the fence and not fall into the worldly side.

Back away from the fence!

Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft said...

I think the reason it scares you is that we all want so badly to be happy in our marraiges. And sometimes we just aren't. We are not content. It's not always fun. It SUCKS. The point, though, is that we don't have to choose to live there. But my personal belief, from a living very worldly and now trying to live by God, is to be honest and not be scared by the stuff we simply can't stand about our marriages and our kids. Own it. Tell God all about it. But then don't feel bad about it, because you aren't going to set up camp there.

I'll say it: Sometimes I can't stand my husband. He drives me nuts. So do my kids. I sometimes wish I were never married and could be the person I was before this craziness.

But... here's the real real truth... those are feelings. Those are temporary. Do I really want to be without my sweet hubby and kids? No. Do I know that it is all about me when I feel this way? My fault for having worldly expectations and being so desperately human? Yes.

I want it all. I want the backyard patio set and the church of 4 on Sunday. I want no diagnoses that keep my kids on the "special" side. I want my inlaws and my family to all get along seemlessly. I wish I were still 30.

But none of this is the case. But guess what? God still loves me where I am. And that love will bind me to my husband and kids with joy on days even when sometimes I don't feel it. And on days I really don't feel joy, I start over.

So THERES a rant for you!

Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft said...

My last comment implied that "you" personally weren't happy in your marriage. I shouldn't have stated it like that. I meant that sometimes we are scared by others because we can see glimpses of it in our own lives. It's normal. It's okay. YOU are fine. So am I. You are doing wonderful.

Carpool Queen said...

Your honesty was so refreshing today. I needed to read this. I needed to read Jenster's comment, and Andrea's, too.

Good, good stuff.

nancygrayce said...

This is right to the point! We have two Christian couples right now .....both in ministry.....who are divorcing. There are many children involved and it is sad.

Having been divorced and now married again for 15 years....I try to tell anyone who will listen....fight for your marriage....you and your mate aren't the only ones that will get hurt. And always, always above all else guard your heart!

Thank you for this. I'd like to link too.

Kellie said...

Anybody in a "happy" marriage will tell you that there are dark days in ALL marriages (and those who tell you otherwise either haven't been married very long, or are lying).

Here's some advice from the other yard:

I believe that I have a strong relationship with my spouse because we didn't look at pain as something to be avoided (although for awhile we tried), but we chose to walk into it and allow the Lord to heal places that we had mistakenly looked to each other to heal.

I came with baggage. And my husband came with baggage.

We are not the same people we were when we married over 15 years ago. And the pain that comes with that growth is not easy...but the fruit of loving each other when it was hard is what makes our commitment to each other stronger.

Will my husband and I always be in this state of marital content? Probably not, we are by nature selfish, sinful people...but with the Lord, we can use the pain of marriage to make the sweet times that much sweeter.

Thanks for the rant my friend.

Gretchen said...

Lurve you. And grateful for this reminder. We are both so blessed with our spouses. May it always be so. Marriage: well worth a rant to save.

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

Reading your post, I could only think about the song by Casting Crowns, "Slow Fade". How true!

Sad that as Christians, we're sometimes eager to substitute happiness for the joy that comes only through obedience.

This particular season of my marriage finds us closer than we've ever been, among raging storms. But there have been days when we could've easily chucked it all away, and would have if it weren't for God and His wonderful grace.

Great post, friend!

Sweet Annabelle said...

Hello - I hopped over from The Perch to read your post on marriage. I want to comment based on what has happened with 'climbing on the fence' (and falling over) in the lives of those I love. BOTH of my brothers were found to be in infidelity --- only one of their marriages survived. BOTH raised in godly homes, active in their churches. Our family has been torn by divorce and all the relationships remain ruined.

Now a couple within our close circle of friends in our church are breaking up a 20 year marriage - both teachers in the church, long-time Christians. I'm with you - My World Is Rocked. This has caused me to re-examine, constantly, just like you said, my own marriage. Thank you for posting the truth!

Far Away From the Fence,


Andrea - said...

Thank you! I wish it weren't a rant that needed out. But this is the world we live in where men and women's "hearts fail them" because we forget why we marry, what the big picture is, and what love truely is. In some cases we let selfishness and worldly desires in. They take root and grow. Or our priorities slip. If we do a little weeding and pruning and remember who we are an whose we are and the covenants we have made to each other and our God, maybe the number of broken homes and divorces would dramatically decrease.

Andrea - said...

P.S. - Thanks for letting me rant a little too. :)

Sassy Granny ... said...

We've got to get you ranting on Fox, BBC & Reuters news sites. The whole world needs to hear this, but certainly believers more than anyone.

Turn up the volume. I pray the message reaches many hearts, many homes. The world would be a better place if it did.


Technonana said...

As a friend of mine says.. the grass is greenest where you water it!!!
Maybe just watching a little movie like I don't know ummm, FIREPROOF.. and doing the Love Dare is what we all need to spend time doing!!! My husband of 41yrs. and I watched the movie... Taught the Love Dare Lessons to Thirty Somethings.. (His SS class) and did the Dare ourselves... Best thing we have ever did together!!!
We actually sat down every night and did the Dare together, like we would do night time devotional...We shared, I mean really shared... I recommend it to everyone... Engaged or married...

Rebecca said...

I'm a lurker, here but I had to comment. This is such a great post and so true. Thank you for your honesty.