Tuesday, November 1, 2022

A New Car and a Reflection on Marriage

Yesterday I said goodbye to my 2017 Honda Odyssey. It served me well for over 160,000 miles. But it was definitely time for a trade in, and the Honda dealer had just the car I was looking for. I think the new 2022 Passport will serve me well for the coming years with its V6 engine and 280 horsepower. My model (called the "Trailsport") also has an All-Wheel Drive system which the Odyssey didn't have. The interior is much roomier than my old van and I can still throw my bike in the back without any problem. 

This morning, for obvious reasons, I had marriage on my mind and so spent a good hour devouring Ephesians 5. 

A wife has a claim on her husband's undivided attention. If he is not willing to pay this price, it's probably better that he not marry. And when you lose a spouse you loved, you quickly come to realize that grief is not something you get over but grow into. The ancient Rabbis insisted that three things made a marriage: money, a contract, and intercourse. But these things do not ensure the essentials needed in a marriage. Flowery words and even the gift of a husband's body mean nothing without love (1 Cor. 13). It is love that makes a marriage in the Pauline sense. And when this love is interrupted, it is like undergoing an amputation. You are no longer what you once were or wanted to be. The good news is that tragedy pushes us toward God, and in him we find grace despite our brokenness. When you lose something important to you, you can nevertheless choose to embrace life. This is what I have sought to do for the past 9 years. Like other widowers, I have found loss to be transformative. Grace can always bring good out of a bad situation. The tears, the loneliness, the sorrows are a part of this process. If we truly understand that, we need never doubt the goodness of God. 

Theses days I mostly turn my solitude to prayer. It's so funny when I sit down at Bojangles every morning with my sausage biscuit and coffee and bow my head to give thanks. When I start praying it's almost like I can't stop, can't find any joy in life sweeter than communing with the Father, can't leave his comforting presence. I imagine people looking at me and thinking, "His coffee must be getting cold!" It is important to repeat that I am not seeking sympathy. I simply want to remind us all that no one in the entire universe has such power to hurt as a husband or a wife. To be married is to be vulnerable to that power. Hence, to be married means to open ourselves up to suffering. To love always mean pain. Love accepts this, knowing that without self-giving and abandonment there is no such thing as marriage as Paul defines it. God's plan is to make us holy, and hardship is therefore inevitable. Our job is to accept it. Tomorrow, as I said, it will be nine years. The Lord has been so faithful to me during this time. I have lain prostrate before him, knowing that he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. "It is he," writes the Psalmist, "who heals the broken in spirit" (Psalm 147:3). Amen. 

The Bible teaches that my God, not my spouse, shall supply all my needs, and to that promise I will cling without wavering.