Monday, April 6, 2009

Cinderella Syndrome continued...

Spoilers to the Story

As relating to a movie or a book, a spoiler is anything that tips the reader or viewer’s hand as to what is to come before the story actually unfolds. For the purist who wants to allow the story to develop as it should, a spoiler ruins everything.

As it relates to marriage, I am a firm believer that spoilers are actually of incredible benefit because they allow us to know some of the difficulties we could encounter before we are faced with them. Space and time do not allow us to list all of them, but a few common ones are as follows:

Your leading man is subject to the laws of nature.

One of my favourite shows growing up was Emergency. Johnny Gage and the other guys down at the fire station were as dreamy as they came…and don’t even get me started on Dr. Early. With the lack of suitable programming for kids these days (and a little nostalgia thrown in) I ordered Season 1 of Emergency for my family.

Upon its arrival, we sat down to watch the first episode and I was immediately transported back in time. Amazingly enough, they all looked the same! Not one of them had aged at all, though many years had passed since I had last spent time with them.

Of course, we laugh at the absurdity of this because TV shows always make time stand still. Unfortunately, within the confines of reality, time marches on and we are all subject to the laws that God put into place before time began.

All of us will age and age can do strange things to the body. Time advances and brings with it gravity, weather, food choices and the desire (or lack of it) for physical exertion. All of these factors take their own toll and leave our appearances changed from their original state. For some, the changes are welcome and many improve as the years go on. Others are not so lucky and time becomes a cruel task-master.

That guy you set your sights on may look like a million bucks now, but down the road those looks will be altered and his initial appearance will be a distant memory. If our relationship is not based on more than outward appearances, it is destined to fade as quickly as his six-pack abs.

Excess baggage makes the journey more labor-intensive, but not impossible.

Many of us arrive at marriage with more than a few wounds tucked inside a carry-on. Past abuses, areas of unforgiveness and unrealistic expectations are dragged around behind us like the most fashionable American Tourister. So accustomed are we to its existence that we rarely even give a second thought to how tough it makes the journey.

We are often equally as blind to the baggage our potential suitors have and so off we go, into the sunset, happily carting our loads behind us. It’s only as the honeymoon phase wears off and the day-to-day interactions intensify that the baggage is even noticed much left opened and sorted through.

For those who do have significant pain in their past, there will need to be much sensitivity and grace extended in the relationship. There is often the need for counseling to begin to peel back the layers and eventually uncover the root issues that cause us to behave as we do. This process can be very time-consuming and exhausting and there must be a resolve on the front-end to slog through the muck no matter how tough it gets.

The emerging beauty of a heart set free from all that weighs it down makes the process more than worth the effort. Our patience and ability to encourage our mate as they deal with their baggage ultimately allows us to walk in a freedom of intimacy we could at one time only imagine.

Temptations will come…it’s just a matter of when and in what form.

Then only thing as sure and predictable as taxes and Murphy’s law is the knowledge that each of us will be tempted at one time or another. If satan chose to try and bring about our Savior’s demise through tempting Him, why do we think we’ll emerge from this battle unscathed. Temptation is one of his surest and most effective forms of taking us out of the fight.

Temptation looks different for each of us and what tempts one may not entice another. For some it is the lure of pornography, of which the internet affords us plenty. Others struggle with gambling, alcohol and drugs. For many marriages the final nail in the coffin is driven when the desire for an adulterous relationship becomes a reality. The problem comes when we think we are above being tempted and attempt to reassure ourselves and our mate that we have an iron-clad resolve that can rival any attempt he throws our way to take us out.

A well-known Christian author and talk show host told his audience many years ago that he had assured his wife he would never ever cheat on her. While I am sure his heart was right in wanting to give his wife a sense of peace about their relationship, his use of never should have been enough to make her buckle up her seatbelt and get ready for the ride.

Apart from a living, intimate and thriving relationship with Jesus, any of us are subject to temptation. Scripture tells us that no test or temptation that comes our way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All we need to remember is that God will never let us down; he'll never let us be pushed past our limit; he'll always be there to help us come through it. (1 Cor. 10:13 (MsgB)

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