Travelling through the US this week I have seen my fair share of bumper stickers, t-shirts, and signs about the 2nd ammendment. It also happens to be my 20th anniversary today. Those 2 items have a lot in common, especially since my wife is an American.
I am reminded again and again of how young Mindi and I were when we got married. There was plenty of pressure to not go forward with our decision, to gain more life experience, to discover who we truly were, and make sure this was the right choice for our lives. I look back on it now and realize that if I had waited to find out who I truly was, Mindi would still be waiting at the altar, and I would have 4 less amazing people in my life. (Not counting all the amazing in-laws I acquired) I am still learning who I am, who God desires me to be, and thanks be to Him, Mindi continually does the same. What a lot of the advice-givers of yesteryear did not know then, but seemed to be pretty clear to me at the time, was that even in their ‘age of wisdom’, they were still making plenty of stupid mistakes. Some still are. Age did not seem to be a good indicator of maturity and wisdom back then, and that continues to be a truth I observe today.
So what have I learned in 20 years? Plenty. But 2 facts stand out clearly above the rest, both from my American brethren, and I think they are really God-given choices in every circumstance we encounter. The freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. Each involves a choice in all circumstances. Many choose the latter as their right, alienating the other party for the sake of what they feel is theirs to own, and the relationship becomes a battlefield. Soon, every encounter is a war based on honouring self and destroying the other. We have that capability. It is not what God intended, but He allows us to make all the enemies we want over the stupidest issues we can manage to create.
But freedom of speech, that is an awesome gift. I have the gift of gab, and words spoken is considered my main love language, so I get this. When someone does not feel heard, I feel their pain. It is also my main weapon, as not hearing the right words can knowingly hurt another. We have a choice in every matter to speak truth and love into a situation, and it means a change to that situation. Further, it changes the other person. When we choose to speak, to work out each circumstance, we grow and bring life to the other. We cause oneness to be more than an ideal.
It is difficult to overcome our pride. Scratch that — It is difficult for me to overcome my pride. When we are hurt, when the other person seems malicious in their actions, when we are not understood, we take up arms. It becomes a right we think we need to exercise. Words becomes swords, actions become landmines, thoughts foster exaggerated fiction of what the other ‘might’ have meant/felt/intended. The most difficult battle we encounter in a committed covenanted relationship is to extend grace we ourselves do not deserve.
Mindi and I have encountered many tough circumstances. Had many heavy heart-to-hearts. Struggled, rejoiced, cursed, screamed, kissed, etc. etc. But through everything, she is the one I chose and believed to be the wife God intended for me to have. We are more in love now than ever, and have had the joy of learning from one another through the years. Age has nothing to do with the outcome thus far, only the resolve to grow closer through every circumstance we encounter together. And much of this has depended greatly on choosing not to bear arms, but rather speaking life into those circumstances.
You want the simple lesson learned over 20 years?
Say the words you know need to be said.
Stop waiting for the other person to say what you think they should say.
Fall in love with the person who stuck with you, and learn to show them this is the truth.