Q. What more can He give? Calvary to the road to Dasmascus - a meaningful act of love and sacrifice.
As the world pauses to celebrate Holy week it's impotant that we, as Christians, look beyond the week itself to the everyday life we live - because holiness reaches beyond the tomb. I discovered this wonderful article by Matthew Fray called, "The Marriage Lesson that I Learned Too Late," on what ended his marriage and as we would guess, it wasn't the big things but the little things that added up. As you read this article meditate on your relationship, your marriage, to the Savior and ask... what more can He give or have I taken for granted my end of the vows.
The things that destroy love and marriage often disguise themselves as unimportant. Many dangerous things neither appear nor feel dangerous as they’re happening. They’re not bombs and gunshots. They’re pinpricks. They’re paper cuts. And that is the danger. When we don’t recognize something as threatening, then we’re not on guard. These tiny wounds start to bleed, and the bleed-out is so gradual that many of us don’t recognize the threat until it’s too late to stop it.
I spent most of my life believing that what ended marriages were behaviors I classify as Major Marriage Crimes. If murder, rape, and armed robbery are major crimes in the criminal-justice system, I viewed sexual affairs, physical spousal abuse, and gambling away the family savings as major crimes in marriage.
Because I wasn’t committing Major Marriage Crimes, when my wife and I were on opposite sides of an issue, I would suggest that we agree to disagree. I believed she was wrong—either that she was fundamentally incorrect in her understanding of the situation or that she was treating me unfairly. It always seemed as if the punishment didn’t fit the crime—as if she were charging me with premeditated murder when my infraction was something closer to driving a little bit over the speed limit with a burned-out taillight that I didn’t even know was burned out.
The reason my marriage fell apart seems absurd when I describe it: My wife left me because sometimes I leave dishes by the sink. It makes her seem ridiculous and makes me seem like a victim of unfair expectations. But it wasn’t the dishes, not really—it was what they represented.
Hundreds, maybe thousands, of times, my wife tried to communicate that something was wrong. That something hurt. But that doesn’t make sense, I thought. I’m not trying to hurt her; therefore, she shouldn’t feel hurt.
We didn’t go down in a fiery explosion. We bled out from 10,000 paper cuts. Quietly. Slowly.
She knew that something was wrong. I insisted that everything was fine. This is how my marriage ended. It could be how yours ends too.
Sometimes I leave used drinking glasses by the kitchen sink, just inches away from the dishwasher. It isn’t a big deal to me now. It wasn’t a big deal to me when I was married. But it was a big deal to her. Each time my wife entered the kitchen to discover the glass I’d left next to the sink, she moved incrementally closer to moving out and ending our marriage. I just didn’t know it yet.
You may be wondering, Hey, Matt! Why would you leave a glass by the sink instead of putting it in the dishwasher?
A couple of reasons:
I might want to use it again.
I, personally, don’t care if a glass is sitting by the sink unless guests are visiting. I will never care. Ever. It’s impossible. It’s like asking me to make myself interested in crocheting or to enjoy yard work.
There is only one reason I will ever stop leaving that glass by the sink, and it’s a lesson I learned much too late: because I love and respect my partner, and it really matters to them.
I think I believed that my wife should respect me simply because I exchanged vows with her. It wouldn’t have been the first time I acted entitled. What I know for sure is that I had never connected putting a dish in the dishwasher with earning my wife’s respect.
I was arguing about the merits of a glass by the sink. But for my wife, it wasn’t about the glass. It wasn’t about dishes by the sink, or laundry on the floor, or her trying to get out of doing the work of caring for our son, for whom there’s nothing she wouldn’t do.
It was about consideration. About the pervasive sense that she was married to someone who did not respect or appreciate her. And if I didn’t respect or appreciate her, then I didn’t love her in a manner that felt trustworthy. She couldn’t count on the adult who had promised to love her forever, because none of this dish-by-the-sink business felt anything like being loved.
I now understand that when I left that glass there, it hurt my wife—literally causing pain—because it felt to her as if I had just said, “Hey. I don’t respect you or value your thoughts and opinions. Not taking four seconds to put my glass in the dishwasher is more important to me than you are.”
Suddenly, this moment is no longer about something as benign and meaningless as a dirty glass. Now this moment is about a meaningful act of love and sacrifice.
This is how two well-intentioned people slowly fall apart.
If I had to distill the problems in failed relationships down to one idea, it would be our colossal failure to make the invisible visible, our failure to invest time and effort into developing awareness of what we otherwise might not notice in the busyness of daily life.
If I had known that this drinking-glass situation and similar arguments would actually end my marriage—that the existence of love, trust, respect, and safety in our marriage was dependent on these moments I was writing off as petty disagreements—I would have made different choices.
Our relationship with God is the greatest relationship we'll ever have. Are we relying on "not committing the major crimes" to sustain a relationship dependent on daily deposits of trust, love and sacrifice? Is there a glass on the sink God is calling your attention to that you refuse to change because you view it as unimportant?
The road to Calvary gives us warm fuzzies because it reveals Jesus's meaningful act of love and scrifice for us, however it's on the road to Dasmascus we are given our opportunity to respond the same.
The phrase “Damascus Road experience” is used to describe a conversion which is dramatic and startling. Many people receive Christ in a life-changing, instantaneous experience, although many others describe their conversion as more of a gradual understanding of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But both types of experiences have several things in common. First, salvation is of the Lord, by His will and according to His plan and purpose (Acts 22:14). As He does one way or another to each of us, Jesus made it clear to Saul that he had gone his own way for long enough. Now he was to become an instrument in the hands of the Master to do His will as He had foreordained it.
Second, the response of both Saul and all those who are redeemed by Christ is the same: “What do you want me to do?” Like Saul, we do not bargain, negotiate, question, or come halfway. The response of the redeemed is obedience. When God truly touches our hearts, our only response can be, “Lord, may your will be done and may you use me to do it.”
Saul’s dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus was the beginning of an incredible journey. And while not all conversions are as startling as Saul’s, each of us is commissioned by Jesus to live in obedience to Him (John 14:15), love one another in His name (1 John 2:23), “know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,” (Philippians 3:10), and tell the world of the wonderful riches in Christ.
We have the opportunity to restore our union with the resurrected Christ by making different choices or take it for granted and allow it to bled out 10,000 papercuts at a time.