We don't have to look very far to know that marriages are failing in America and most of the Western world. If you get married today, you statistically have a higher chance of divorcing than staying together. This is sobering, and merits a good look at ourselves. Why do marriages and relationships fail?
The pat answer is selfishness. It's true that we all want to be loved, cared for, adored, and treated like we are the cream in someone's coffee. These are good and right things to want. It seems that if people would just shut up and listen to each other, we all really want the same thing. We all want the best for us.
The hard part comes when what we want doesn't match up with the thing someone else wants. We might really think someone is wonderful and want to be with them, but they have their eye on someone else. We might want to be free to play video games for hours after work, and our wife wants to sit and talk. We might think shopping is no big deal, but our husband seems to roll over and play silent/cold/dead if he finds out where we've been. We want the same outcome, but different paths to get there. We are selfish. We want our way.
This next paragraph will go a bit further than most will want to read, but bear with me. We have to look at why we are so selfish. Why do we fight if we want the same thing? Why can't we be giving enough to say "I know you I said I wanted to spend that $500.00 on a new sofa, but we can go to NASCAR instead because it will make you happy?" We can't we give in? There reason is pretty simple -- we are all broken. Something in us was made to want to love and be happy at first, but then it broke. For a Christian like me (and maybe you), you immediately recognize this as sin, a fallen nature, the separation from God and what we were made to be. Sin has broken us.
This is the reason we are so selfish and won't ever be completely happy with anyone. Because we are all broken, we will all fail each other. That cute guy with dimples and a hot body will forget to call you. That girl who seemed so perfect also has an annoying laugh and a mother who won't butt out. Life isn't perfect. Some people can't get past this in a relationship...they realize they can't get what they want and they leave. Never mind breaking hearts or kids who won't have a dad anymore. We have learned to serve our own selfishness.
In generations past, people realized that life wasn't perfect, but they had determined to stick it out. They learned to be happy with each other in imperfection. Life wasn't any better back then, but people choose to not give in to selfishness as much. I'm not talking about staying through abuse, but just the everyday grating the comes from living with another imperfect person. The key to their happiness was to look past themselves, to look past their spouse, and to look to something else; God, a cause, the family, their country, something else that was bigger and more important than their own immediate pleasure.
To be fulfilled in a relationship, dating, marriage, sharing a life together or a cup of coffee, we have to realize that this imperfection is mutual. If we can get past this, I think relationships will be less about being selfish and more about becoming a lover to each other, warts and all.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
A young lady named Sally relates an experience she had in class, given by her teacher, whom we’ll call Brother Smith. She says Brother Smith was known for his elaborate object lessons. One particular day, Sally walked into class and knew they were in for another fun day.
On the wall was a big target and on a nearby table were many darts. Brother Smith told the students to draw a picture of someone that they disliked or someone who had made them angry and he would allow them to throw darts at the person’s picture.
Sally’s girlfriend (on her right), drew a picture of a girl who had stolen her boyfriend. Another friend (on her left), drew a picture of his little brother. Sally drew a picture of Brother Smith, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing. Sally was pleased at the overall effect she had achieved.
The class lined up and began throwing darts, with much laughter and hilarity. Some of the students threw their darts with such force that their targets were ripping apart. Sally looked forward to her turn, and was filled with disappointment when Brother Smith, because of time limits, asked the students to return to their seats.
As Sally sat thinking about how angry she was because she didn’t have a chance to throw any darts at her target, Brother Smith began removing the target from the wall. Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus. A complete hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled picture of Jesus. Holes and jagged marks covered His face and His eyes were pierced out.
Brother Smith said only these words, “ I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'"(Matthew 25:40).
No other words were necessary. The tear-filled eyes of each student focused only on the picture of Christ. The students remained in their seats even after the bell rang, then slowly left the classroom, tears streaming down their faces.