The Idea of a “Love Bank” Isn’t a Myth… But the Idea that Your Spouse Must Make Deposits Is A Lie

If you’re married, engaged, or hope to eventually be married, I highly recommend that you read Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. Seriously, I feel that every time I sit down to read another chapter, the Holy Spirit uses this book to change some area of my heart or some long-held cultural perspective of marriage that I’ve been clinging to.

Chapter Two, entitled “The Power For Marriage,” lays the foundation for the rest of the book, namely that marriage is meant to be undertaken only through and by the power of the Holy Spirit. He turns the widely-accepted pop psychology idea of a “love bank” on its head, saying:

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Marriage is Nothing Like a Hallmark Card

Josh and I are currently reading Tim Keller‘s The Meaning of Marriage with our small group.  Here’s a short taste from the first chapter (and it’s also the quote from the back of the book):

“I’m tired of listening to sentimental talks on marriage. At weddings, in church, and in Sunday school, much of what I’ve heard on the subject has as much depth as a Hallmark card. While marriage is many things, it is anything but sentimental. Marriage is glorious but hard. It’s a burning joy and strength, and yet it is also blood, sweat, and tears, humbling defeats and exhausting victories. No marriage I know more than a few weeks old could be described as a fairy tale come true. Therefore, it is not surprising that the only phrase in Paul’s famous discourse on marriage in Ephesians 5 that many couples can relate to is verse 32 [‘A man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery…’]. Sometimes you fall into bed, after a long, hard day of trying to understand each other, and you can only sigh: ‘This is all a profound mystery!’ At times, your marriage seems to be an unsolvable puzzle, a maze in which you feel lost. I believe all of this, and yet there’s no relationship between human beings that is greater or more important than marriage” (Tim Keller in The Meaning of Marriage, 21).

Josh and I just celebrated (well, remembered) our 9 month anniversary in marriage yesterday. It’s actually quite weird though because despite the fact that it’s been 9 months, it really feels like we’ve been married for five years or longer. We already have trouble sleeping without each other, something I had equated to a problem only known by people who have been married two decades or longer. I’m sure that when we actually hit the five year mark and then the twenty year mark, I’ll look back on this post and laugh, but truly, it feels that we’ve matured and grown more in the last nine months together than we did on our own in the last few years.

There’s much about marriage that IS sentimental. What I love most about marriage is the “little stuff” that makes up the fabric of our lives. I love holding Josh’s hand, taking walks, just talking, teasing, snuggling, cooking together, chasing him around the condo to retrieve whatever item he’s most recently stolen from me, and just sharing life with him. And yes, that sounds like a Hallmark card (and in fact, there’s a card sitting on Josh’s nightstand that says pretty much what I just said here). But that’s not all there is to it.

Marriage changes everything about your life. You’re no longer able to do exactly what you want, when you want to. It grows you. It shapes you. It teaches you about the gospel. And yes, it’s hard. I’ve heard people say that love and marriage shouldn’t be too hard or something’s wrong with your marriage, but I disagree. That’s why I really like the Keller quote above.

I’m currently in the middle of another great book on marriage – Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Thomas says that marriage is “the greatest challenge in the world,” and also asks some really important questions about marriage and cultural perceptions and expectations of marriage. He asks his readers “What if God didn’t design marriage to be ‘easier’? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” (Sacred Marriage, 13).

I think God designed marriage to be hard. He wants us to be holy. And thankfully, I can say that marriage has made me both happy and holy, but I know that there are seasons of even greater difficulty ahead. In those seasons, I want to remember that the point of marriage isn’t that I am happy. Instead, the point is that God is working in my heart to make me holy, humble, and totally committed to the covenant that I made to Him, to Josh, and to hundreds of others last July. It’s an incredibly beautiful thing to share your life with someone. But make no mistake – it’s hard – but it is absolutely worth the struggle.

Initial Thoughts on Marriage

I know that I haven’t been married all that long and that I probably don’t have the right to starting writing about marriage until after I’ve been married for more than a month. So take everything I say with a grain of salt and if you prefer, you can wait for my 20 year anniversary in 2031 to begin believing me. All of that aside, I think it’s important to capture some initial thoughts in these first few weeks.

Marriage is, in just one word, incredible. It’s not at all about butterflies and rainbows, or even the “oneness” experience that many people described it to us as, nor is it the extremely difficult transition that the other half of couples described. So far it’s quite ordinary and normal in the sense that we already know each other so well that there have been only nominal disagreements and surprises. That’s not to say that eventually disagreements and surprises won’t come, but there’s definitely the sense that because we have been such good friends for such a long time, we already know one another’s pet peeves, likes, dislikes, and preferences.

That’s not to say that loving him is without difficulty. He tends to not hear me when he’s reading Twitter or watching Sports Center and he also annoyingly tends to leave dishes in the sink instead of putting them straight into the dishwasher. But I step on the shower mat soaking wet instead of dripping off in the shower, so I guess I probably annoy him too.

I think what we discovered during our honeymoon was that the oneness described by all of our counselors and friends isn’t something that wedding vows or living together automatically create; instead, those things merely lay the foundation and create the atmosphere in which oneness can grow. We’ve decided that oneness is likely the result of 20 years of marriage, several kids, and years of struggles, ministry, commingled finances, and lots of prayer.

All of that said, it’s great! We love it. It’s really awesome to wake up next to your best friend every morning and go to sleep with them at night. But it also takes work. I’m learning that to be successful in marriage one must be extremely intentional. Without intentionality, a couple could go through life and merely live together.

Before I was married, I never realized how easy it would be to just cohabitate  or to serve my husband merely just to get things done, without ensuring that the love and glory of Christ is the catalyst of such service.

It would be so easy to do a poor job of reflecting the relationship between Christ and the Church, merely because I lack love. I’ve realized how important it is that the love and glory of Christ be my motivation in every area of life, and especially in my marriage.

Love is such an interesting word. I’m realizing that I’ve only ever scratched the surface. It’s a word that, like the word “oneness,” is likely going to take me a lifestyle shift and an entire lifetime to figure out in its entirety. And if I’m going to live my life by Scripture, this season of life requires me to turn again to Scripture to ask “what is love?” I know in my head and in my heart that it is defined as God and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, but practically, how am I going to live that out? How do I lay down my life for Josh?

I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 13’s description of love – “love is patient and kind; love does not enjoy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (vs. 4-7).” And also, like forgiving someone 70 x 7, “love never ends” (vs. 8), which means that I need a limitless reservoir of love for Josh.

But not just love for Josh or because of Josh. Not because he’s amazing or I love him, but because of God – because all I do and all we are is meant to project the love of Christ’s love for the Church to the world. All I do is worthless without love. I could be the best wife, but if I’m not operating out of an overflow of love for Christ, it is all worthless. I’ve been extended limitless grace and I can only extend it in return. Furthermore, every single thing I do, whether its organizing the pantry, making dinner, or unloading the dishwasher – if I do it with any hesitation or without love, I negate it and I do not do it as unto the Lord.

It seems silly to me that this is so revolutionary to my heart today, but it was an amazing revelation and it makes Josh even easier to love well and live with. God is so good and so faithful to sanctify me in this time and use marriage to do so.

Love songs, Dave Barnes, and Christianity

okay, I’ll just go ahead and admit it – I’m a hopeless romantic. so there’s your disclaimer for this post – it’s gonna be a little sappy.

The problem with being both a Christian and a hopeless romantic is that so many love songs (and love stories, for that matter) mischaracterize the role of love, romance, and relationships/marriage in our lives… they focus on sensuality or place far too much value on the feelings that accompany relationships instead of what commitment really means. Maybe I’m thinking about this because I’ve got six or seven wedding invitations sitting on my desk. Or maybe I’m thinking about it because one of the invites is to my little sister’s wedding.

Regardless, I have discovered an artist whose songs I like A LOT. I recently went to a Dave Barnes concert and loved the lyrics in his songs… they seem to convey love and adoration without giving the focus of his affection a position that doesn’t belong to her.  His songs keep playing on repeat in my head (thanks to Karen) and I think they’re beautiful. The third one below, I Have and Always Will, is the perfect wedding song and it’s definitely my favorite. I’ll have to play it for Courtney once I get to Texas!

God Gave Me You – Dave Barnes
I’ve been a walking heartache
I’ve made a mess of me
The person that I’ve been lately
Ain’t who I wanna be

But you stay here right beside me
Watch as the storm goes through
And I need you

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you

There’s more here than what were seeing
A divine conspiracy
That you, an angel lovely
Could somehow fall for me
You’ll always be love’s great martyr
Ill be the flattered fool
and I need you

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you

On my own I’m only
Half of what I could be
I can’t do without you
We are stitched together
And what love has tethered
I pray we never undo

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you, gave me you.
Gave me you.

Crazyboutya – Dave Barnes

You don’t have to tell me, girl, I know it
And hallelujah is coming out my mouth
Cause you’re my girl and girl I don’t deserve you
But deserving love is not what you’re about
Im gonna tell the whole wide world about you
Tell them what you mean to me
Ooh, Im crazy bout ya, baby, and I just can’t help it
Some might call it selfish
I need you by my side
I’m crazy bout ya baby
And there’s no denying
No use even trying
I need you by my side
All the girls in the papers and the movies
And the covers of the dirty magazines
They got nothing on your beauty, pretty baby
Cause you’re everything that they wish they could be
Im gonna tell the whole wide world about you
And tell them what you mean to me
Ooh, Im crazy bout ya, baby, and I just can’t help it
Some might call it selfish
But I need you to myself
Ooh, I’m crazy bout ya baby
And there’s no denying
No use even trying
I need you by my side

I Have and Always Will – Dave Barnes

Darling, we’re both scared
But where love is, fear won’t tread
All of these friends here agree
We’re right where we should be
Underneath all your white
My Lady, My Love, My Bride
In your darkest hours
Will I love you still
I have and I always will
I guess it’s because I just do
Following heaven’s clues
This is a big mystery
How I found, you found me
Underneath all your white
My Lady, My Love, My Bride
In your darkest hours
Will I love you still
I have and I always will
And you are changing now
Your part of me somehow
And I will never be alone
In your darkest hours
Well I love you still
I have and I always will
I have and I always will

But seriously. Read the lyrics. And also, always remember this:

“Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. And ultimately, marriage is the display of God. It displays the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his people to the world in a way that no other event or institution does. Marriage, therefore, is not mainly about being in love. It’s mainly about telling the truth with our lives. And staying married is not about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant and putting the glory of Christ’s covenant-keeping love on display. If you are married, this is why. If you hope to be, this should be your dream.” (John Piper, This Momentary Marriage)

And…… done! Normal posts shall resume shortly.

This one’s for the girls

This entry is about my girls. It’s for my girls. I call them “my girls” because I think they’re mine, but God always reminds me that really they’re His. This entry is about Stephanie, Ceci, Margot, Janelle, Talli, Janelle T., Karen, Megan, and Becca, and it’s about all the other girls that I’ve ever had the privilege and blessing to have in my small group.

Just like the girls are HIS girls, this vision I have for college ministry and for the Gathering, and for my life… it’s HIS vision. He’s the one who fulfills His own purposes and I am shocked and awed, amazed and astounded that He uses me and that I get to be a part of what He’s doing in my generation. Leading and loving in this ministry is never a burden or a sacrifice. It’s a joy. I feel incredibly blessed just to be used by God and to watch the Holy Spirit work in the lives of the people around me.

Tonight we celebrated community. We took the time to talk about and embrace what God’s done in our lives this last semester and year. We talked about our growth and the fruit we see in each others lives. We talked about how to run from sin and stay pure when we’re away from community while home for the summer. We talked about what the Church should really look like and what Christian community means to our lives. We took time out of our busy lives and away from the demands of finals to meet for three and  a half hours. I know… crazy, right? I didn’t plan on spending that much time there, but God definitely had different plans for us tonight. If I could put our meeting into words, if I were to use just a single word, all I can say is that it was beautiful.

Tonight we did what we call “affirmations.” Basically, we went around the room and talked about (and to) each girl – told what they have meant to us and to our community, how they have grown, and the character attributes that we see in them that make them the women God has called them to be. We laugh and we cry and we have to really be careful about giving each person time to talk because I think we all could have gone on and on for hours longer about each girl, if we had the time. Our group doubled in size this semester but never lost the vulnerability and transparency that we developed at the beginning of the year and I’m so very grateful.

So this is for the girls:

Girls, what a year! We walked through all sorts of difficult trials together. We walked through breakups, talked through theological differences, sent friends abroad, weathered economic hardship, prayed and interceded for salvations, and delved straight into talking about tough topics like brokenness and healing, marriage and relationships, sex and sin. Thank you for that. I can’t even begin to tell you what you have meant to me. You have grown SO much. And I’ve enjoyed walking with you each step of the way.

Christ, and what He  does in our lives, makes us beautiful and makes our time together extraordinary. It’s not every day that you put seven girls in a tiny room and watch as they affirm one another in Christ. It’s almost as though tonight we could watch the growth take place in front of our eyes as we strengthened and sharpened one another. The last meeting of the group is always a little bittersweet for me because I’m sad that you’re heading home or abroad for the summer, but oh so sweet, because I get to hear you talk about all of the revelation that’s come to your hearts, all that you’ve learned, all of the places where you have grown spiritually and emotionally, and how your need for community and mentorship was met by our group. And in that moment, I get to watch all of my dreams come true. For my life and for yours.

Thank you for coming. Thank you for being faithful. Thank you for truly loving one another and abstaining from all drama. And thank you for all of the many ways you have loved and supported me this year. Finish finals well, and remember this – community is at the heart of the Church and it’s vital to our relationships with Christ. Take this community we’ve built and recreate it where you are this summer. Embrace and search the Word. Make knowing Christ your pursuit and make Him your heart’s first affection. And run from sin – flee from whatever is evil and remember that compromise is made an inch at a time until you’re a mile from the truth.

This community isn’t dissolving. It’s merely moving. It remains and is here for you always. Like I said tonight, I pray you will all still be friends as you walk through the next seasons of life – graduation and entering the workforce, relationships and marriage, and mortgages and children… lean on and continue to learn from each other. Hold each other accountable. This community is an investment from which you will reap massive dividends.

I love you,

Whitney

I remember when

So, my little sister is getting married in June. She’s not so little anymore… I’m thrilled that she’s found someone who her heart loves and who loves her immensely in return. Dustin’s an incredible guy (and a very lucky one).

I got a notice about her bridal shower yesterday and ever since I’ve been flooded with memories of growing up with Courtlandt. She’s always been my very best friend and my partner in crime. I brought the crime, the mischief, and the ideas, and she was always my partner, regardless of our mission. She always believed in me and trusted me, even if I was leading an escapade out through our two story window. There is no more faithful friend or follower.

My very first memory of her, I think, is not of meeting her at the hospital, or of bringing her home, though I do remember being thrilled to have been given a sister. My first clear memory is of Court when she was about six or seven months old. She fit perfectly in my hot pink retro flower baby carriage. I remember pushing her around our living room and I remember being so proud that she was my sister. She wore a jumper and a big floppy straw hat and I thought she was the cutest thing ever.

And there are thousands of memories, thousands of moments just like that. I remember talking her into so much. And I remember taking her punishment as well as my own on so many occasions because I “was the one who talked her into” whatever mischief she had been part of. She was always content to be with me and to do whatever I was doing. There are memories of countless tea parties; dance parties with our Minnie Mouse dolls; dressing up in pearls, heels, and veils; rollerblading on the front porch; blackberry picking; learning to ride our bikes without training wheels on that horrid gravel driveway; horseback riding; long days at our desks in the school room; escaping through our bedroom window when Mom thought we were napping; picnics in the woods; and of lots of time in trees in the back yard. We cut holes in our frilly socks to make dresses for our barbies, dreamed up a million scenarios to pretend we were part of, made a home of the little house in the backyard, stood on stools to learn to cook, and we wore matching clothes for so long that I think it amounts to almost half of our lives thus far.

There were times that we argued, I’m sure, but I don’t remember them. And I think we both remember the two single times that she got into trouble that didn’t involve me. I hate to out her publicly, but I think she lied only twice as a child and was caught both times. Once she thought it would be really fun to pull all of the cotton swabs off of the Q-tips but wouldn’t admit to Dad that she had done it (I think she blamed Taylor), and the other time she ate peppermints without permission. I know… truly evil, right? I used to think she was perfect in every way, and then she confirmed it when she surpassed my graduating GPA with her perfect score of 4.0. She’s literally a genius.

I could never capture completely all that Courtney has meant to me. She’s loved me through life’s rough times, rejoiced with me in my successes, and prayed like crazy every time I’ve ever needed prayer. We attended Lee College together and studied abroad in England together in 2005. We followed that trip to England with another trip to England, France, and Italy following my college graduation and I know we’ll never forget our three weeks alone together in Europe. These are the memories that make a lifetime. Sisterhood is definitely one of the most precious things we’ve ever been given. All of these memories make up a woven existence, a shared life, that can’t be broken even by distance and infrequent phone calls.

Now I get to serve as her maid of honor and I’m thrilled to watch her enter this new stage of her life and experience the incredible gift of marriage. I have to admit that it’s strange to think that she’ll enter a stage of life ahead of me but I’m so excited to have the opportunity to watch her grow and learn from her experiences. One day we’ll switch places and I’ll have her standing with me as I become one with someone as well and I can’t even begin to express the joy that knowledge brings to my heart.

My mom was always right. My sister is the best friend I’ll ever have.

growth

I love having the opportunity to watch my siblings grow up – even from afar. It’s incredible to get to experience this growth with them and to watch them come to maturity in Christ.

an excerpt from my brother’s recent blog post:

“I learned little things of love through the movies that have now accumulated and impacted the ways I view love and intimacy. However, the movies are probably not the most ideal source for information regarding life and love. But there is also a strong influence from the Bible (however I think it made less of an impact on me while I was really little and is making more of an impact upon me now that I’m older). Through it I have learned that love will never be just a happily ever after ending but it is a lifestyle that’s focus surrounds another rather than me. Furthermore, God must be included in this, else I fail.”

This same little brother once said, many years ago, that love was about “kissing,” and “that was all.” He had asked me to explain love and relationships in just one word. My response was “sacrifice.” He didn’t like that answer much. Granted, he was about 12 years old, and like many little boys, had a slightly inaccurate picture of what life really is about.

Even more encouraging than the change in how he sees love now (truly as “sacrifice” based on his words above), is the way he sees God… He’s not the foreword, an afterthought, or merely punctation in his life. He’s essential, life giving, the only hope of success and fulfillment.

I’m not a parent (though sometimes I feel like one since I have five younger siblings), but I have to say that I’m incredibly proud of Taylor – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for him. I’m absolutely thrilled beyond words that he understands, better than ever before in his life, not only the Truth of Scripture, but also its absolute necessity as a lens and a frame of reference in our lives as followers of Christ.

We’re all in a constant state of understanding this in our own lives. Life itself is a sort of a coming-of-age process for each of us. We’re always changing and growing in Christ. Just when we begin to realize that we’ve learned one lesson, conquered one area of sin (an area where we have refused to trust God), we’re asked to go further and learn more. We’re never ever going to “come of age” as it were, until we’re with Christ. But the more we allow Him to increase in us, the more we will decrease… and the more we’ll understand that we have to be IN Him to live, to grow, and to love.

I love you Taylor.

The Greatest of These is LOVE

I use the word “love” a lot – too much, in fact. I think I tend to embrace life with such positivity and enthusiasm that things that I greatly enjoy, or really admire, appreciate, and like, become things that I describe as things that I “love.” Maybe I do love them, in a way. But not love in the truest sense of the word. I’ve become more and more convicted about my word choices recently and catch myself using the word too often. I frequently use the word in relation to Jesus, the people that I hold closest to my heart and truly love so much, and ministry, but I use it as well to speak of my feelings regarding pieces of clothing, types of food, and other inanimate things. I guess I’m realizing that I don’t want to compare the things that give me life/make life worth living with things I merely possess.

1 Corinthians 13 provides a glimpse of perfect love –

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

Faith, without love, is nothing? Wow. Martyrdom without love is worthless? Wow.

That last line grips my heart – I’m sure I’ll be pondering it for days (and always) – “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

All things? ALL? Even when we’re not loved in return or the love we receive doesn’t look like the love we desire? What about when we’re walking through a tough season or a close friend lets us down?

LOVE is sacrifice. Always. I don’t think there’s a better word to encompass the love of Christ or the love that we’re to have toward one another. And using that definition, I’d say I love a lot less than I think I do, and definitely far less than I say I do. Someone recently told me that they don’t believe it’s possible to love unconditionally… and after thinking about it for awhile, I think I have to agree – only Christ loves without conditions. I do believe, however, that we can choose to love, always and in all things, because love is ultimately the choice to sacrifice our wants, needs, feelings, rights, and conditions for the sake of another. Love isn’t really a feeling… it takes a lot of effort, resolve, and patience. When we love like that, we’re more like Christ.

1 John 4:7-10 is one we should keep constantly in mind: “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

As much as it’s humanly possible I want to love like that.

Have Your Way

 “Have Your Way” lyrics from Britt Nicole’s new CD – The Lost Get Found

Feels like I’ve been here forever,
Why can’t you just intervene,
Do you see the tears are falling?
And I’m falling apart at the seams,
But you never said the road would be easy,
But you said that you would never leave.
And you never promised that
this life wasn’t hard,
But you promised you’d take care of me,

So I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way,
My friends and my family have left me
I feel so ashamed and so cold,
Remind you take broken
things and turn them into beautiful

So I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way,

Even if my dreams have died,
Even if I don’t survive,
I’ll still worship you with all my life,
My life, yeah,
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh Whoa, oh
And I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
And I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way, yeah
I know you will,
don’t forget,
Whoa, oh, oh
You love me,
Have your way, Yeah

____________________________________________________

I first heard this song on Sunday while I was driving to church. Mom bought me the CD for my birthday and I’ve had it on repeat since then. It sounds like a sad song, sort of. But I love the hope it holds. Most of the song didn’t resound with where I am right now, but the chorus is incredible:

So I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way

Sometimes I ask too many questions (I’m told I could be a reporter) and I fear I approach my quiet time with God in the same manner – constantly full of questions about life, the Bible, relationships, etc. and always asking for guidance and answers. Last night, at the Gathering, John encouraged us to not just talk at God, but to actually pray and I was convicted. John said that no friend, even a best friend, wants to sit and be questioned or have problems thrown at them non-stop by a friend who just gets up to leave as soon as their high priority to-do list has been made known. I love helping people, but when I don’t feel valued for who I am and not just for what I can do, a to do list becomes really offensive. God, even understanding my humanity, has to feel the same way. I’m a words of affirmation person – Even if I know, I still have to hear how people who are important to me feel about me. Looking at Scripture, it seems that God operates the same way. So, I’m going to endeavor to set aside time to really value God, to love Him…. and also trust Him with exactly where I am, in this time and in this season. He’s sovereign, and He will have His way. That’s the most comforting thought of all.

You can listen to Have Your Way here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i5Pd60DsFE

The Value of Friendship

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis

I don’t often disagee with C.S. Lewis. I have loved his works since I was really young – beginning with The Chronicles of Narnia at a very young age and slowly absorbing and reabsorbing other works of his like The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, etc. His ideas, illustrations, and imagination have definitely affected the way I view God, Christianity, and love.

However, today I definitely take issue with the quote above. Technically, he is correct. But realistically, not so much. Never do I feel more loved than when a friend, knowing so much about me, my life, and needs, steps in to offer to sacrifice on my behalf. Today I was reminded of the absolutely priceless value of a friend who loves you and of the real need of human beings to have such relationships. There’s really nothing else quite like it in life. The love of family, while also priceless and completely irreplaceable, is quite distinct from the love of a friend. There is no blood tie there, no obligation, no pressure… just love.

I totally agree with Lewis on this point: “Love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”

Today’s been a really incredible day. I’m learning to rest and I’m also being reminded of all of the incredible people that God has placed in my life to love me, support me, and teach me. I am more than blessed.