Here’s a lovely thought: Christianity maintains that human beings were created by God in order to reflect his goodness, often understood through the love communicated between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As a way to further communicate his love, God created humanity to reflect his love through our own loving interactions. In other words, humans were made to be united in love as God is united in love.
Marriage is one of the signs instituted by God that reflects this unified love, and he provided it for our mutual joy and happiness.
These are fine ideas, and we often hear them during wedding ceremonies or church or even in our conversations with other Christians. But I sometimes wonder how often we really experience them beyond the abstractions or the mere sentimentalities we tell ourselves. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share a simple story where I was suddenly struck by the wonderful truth of the Christian understanding of love.
My wife and I have been together for 8 years. And I mean together–we never spent a night apart from each other for the first two years of our marriage; never spent more than four hours apart for the first three years; and now, ever since our fifth year, we commute an hour every day together to the same company for work. We really do enjoy being together so much; we depend on each other, care about each other’s happiness, and desperately want to see the other succeed. I’m not entirely sure if this is due to our belief in and pursuit of the virtue of Christian love, or just because our personalities happen to mesh so well. But whatever the case, we’re together most of the day and we feel stronger for it.
Anyway, one of the (quirky) activities Megan and I like to do is to look at houses around our area in which we may someday live. We’ll surf the web looking at homes we like, or we’ll drive around town looking for open houses. And when we see houses we like, we start planning out our future (as in “I could put a reading room here; Meg could put her art studio here; oooooooh, we could put a BIG fishtank there!” And so on). It’s quite fun.
So, every now and then, when Meg and I surf the real estate sites, we’ll send each other links of our favorite houses. Sometimes we even call the listing real estate agent and schedule a walk-through, just to get a sense for New England homes and to adjust our expectations and desires accordingly. It’s an idle but amusing pastime.
Anyway, one day Meg sent me an email with “!!!!!!!!!!!” in the subject line. She sent me a link to a classic seacoast New England salt-box house with clapboard siding. It was beautiful, for sure, but the reason Meg liked it so much was because it was an open-concept home in which the kitchen flowed into the dining room which flowed into the living room which flowed into the sunroom which flowed back into the kitchen. She said, “I could sit and read or knit in the living room and still see you when you cook!”
And that’s the odd moment when Christian love hit me.
You see, if Meg and I are really living out good, godly, Christian love in our marriage, then we’re supposed to be imaging forth the glory of God’s love-communion in some mysterious way that often eludes me. But in this moment, at least, I got a glimpse of God’s unified love through the straight-forward desire of my wife’s longing to live as closely as possible to me within an open-concept home.
Now, I understand how other people may experience God’s love in their marriage differently. I’m not trying to say EVERYONE should live in open-concept homes, after all. I just often experience a disconnect between the high ideals of the Christian faith and real experience. I think everyone does. And so I think it’s nice, and awe-fully surprising, to experience one of the greater truths of Christianity through a semi-mundane, off-handed comment from my lovely wife.
But I guess that’s what the faith is all about.
Editor’s note: John and Megan ended up buying an open concept home. This post is a reprint from the post originally published October 15, 2009 on the blog For Love of the Faith, which will be closing down in January.
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