Archive for April, 2012

Marriage Roles: The Odd Couple

Josh has a love for cooking. I have a love for baking. Josh wants to learn more about baking. I want to learn more about cooking. When our worlds collide, it hasn’t usually gone that well for us in the kitchen. Usually someone is asking the other to back off or step out of the kitchen. We did a fundraiser dinner last spring for Mission Year and my sister-in-law was Josh’s assistant. Even when we’ve worked it out where both of us are cooking, it has usually been bumpy. So we have tended to back off and leave the other person alone when they’re cooking or baking unless asked to help.

The cause of many of our issues within the kitchen isn’t our communication but how we each approach the task at hand. Josh is much more willing to wing it, freely adjust recipes, and experiment. On the other hand, I tend to be much more exact in my cooking and baking, relying heavily and following closely what the recipes says. While I prefer to precisely measure out ingredients, Josh is willing to eye it. Our techniques are different. Both work, but it has been hard to recognize that.

Throughout our marriage, this has been an ongoing trend for us. While sometimes we approach issues the same, most of the time we can approach them very differently. Josh is much more free floating and easy going, wanting to get the most out of every situation and experience. He grapples with hard issues relationally and conceptually. In comparison, I tend to be much more goal oriented, with a strong desire to complete all tasks that are started. I would much rather find a solution for a problem than sit and have long discussions about what is going on.

What we struggle the most with is that our roles in marriage seem reverse from what society deems as the “normal” roles. Due to how I function, multiple times I have been told by both males and females that I make them uncomfortable because of my drive, willingness to confront, and tendency to take initiative.  In return, Josh has been told that he makes people uncomfortable with his openness, willingness to show and share emotion, and more compassionate personality.

Last month we read a marriage book, Not Your Parents’ Marriage, which focused on the need for partnership within marriage. The call for oneness. The call to move beyond the expectations of marriage that you hold and to recognize the uniqueness that each of you bring. The call to recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses and use those to build each other up.

What struck us most within the book, wasn’t this call for partnership and oneness (we’d heard this before), it was the recognition that our style of marriage wasn’t wrong because it doesn’t fit with society norms. Actually, the couple that wrote the book dedicated an entire chapter to this topic because they fit into similar roles as us. Rightfully so, the title of the chapter is “Affirming the ‘Odd Couple.’”

Traditionally the church has done a fairly good job at teaching the “traditional” roles of marriage, but when you don’t meet those it can definitely make you feel out of place. We attempted to attend a small group of young married couples and stopped going because of this issue. We were the only couple out of the entire group that didn’t fit the “norm”, so we weren’t included in many of the group’s dynamics.

This book opened us up to the notion that there is a place within the church for us, that there is no norm for marriage roles. God didn’t wire us wrong. Instead he wired us exactly how we’re supposed to be. If we were to change to try and fit the norms of society, we would face a lot of inner conflict. God designed us this way for a reason.

We also recognized that multiple areas of conflict within our marriage were based around the issue of us trying to take on the “traditional” roles of marriage that we don’t fit into. So over the past month, we have been very intentional on how we work together in the kitchen, recognizing and appreciating how the other person works. While some experiences have still been bumpy, others have gone much smoother.

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Communion

This past Sunday morning I was reminded of the simplicity of community and the unity that can come from it. Within the Episcopal tradition, communion is provided every Sunday. In our church, we leave our pews and line up to receive the bread and the wine, the body and the blood of Christ, at the altar. You stand or kneel, shoulder to shoulder, with your fellow church members in prayer and reflection as you wait to receive communion.

While some Sunday’s it can be easy to go through the motions when getting communion, this past Sunday I could not ignore the amazing love of God present in the chapel.

Out of the quietness of communion, a sole individual began to sing from the altar. The words uttered were from the spiritual “Let us Break Bread Together.” Slowly more and more members began to join in together, singing in unity, these lines:

Let us break bread together on our knees, (on our knees)
Let us break bread together on our knees. (on our knees)
When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun,
O Lord, have mercy on me.
 

Let us drink wine together on our knees, (on our knees)
Let us drink wine together on our knees. (on our knees)
When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun,
O Lord, have mercy on me.
 

Let us praise God together on our knees, (on our knees)
Let us praise God together on our knees. (on our knees)
When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun,
O Lord, have mercy on me.

Sitting there in the pew after taking communion, my heart warmed to the knowledge of the presence of God and his love that was emanating throughout the church. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we sat there in unity together, breaking bread together. All I could do was smile, while my mind went to a passage in Acts about the early church:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:42-47

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Connection by Josh

Hand me down dreams

The fate of destiny preplanned

The world sees me

Screams there’s no hope

You can’t succeed

I begin to think why try

Desperate I yearn

To achieve

To attain

To belong

To matter

Ignored by the educated

Community binds me

Community bids me

Come experience unity

Community says we will fight

For dignity

For hope

For love

For triumph

The fate of my destiny not pre-scripted

The world I see

Screams you matter

There’s hope

There’s love

Though I may be hard to find

The callous of society

The disrespect of poverty

Attempts to keep oppression secret

Make claims that change

Cannot exist here

Where I grow up

Community comes along side

Community pushes back

Against bad policy

Against drugs danger and crime

Community embraces

Community chases away fear

Community is mother

Father

Sister

Brother

Grandma

Grandpa

Auntie

Uncle

Neighbor

Friend

Stranger

Seeking to uplift each other

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Facing Brokenness

It has been a while since I wrote my last blog. At first unintentionally and as the time passed over the past month and half, I began to purposefully ignore my blog. I needed some time off. I needed time to figure out life, figure out what I’m thinking, figure out what I am feeling.

Numbness and stagnation are some of the best words I have to describe how I have felt over the past several weeks. Life has been busy. I have found it much easier to go through the motions than to face my internal frustrations. I have found it easier to immerse myself in the constant activities and events going on around me than face these issues. Two weeks ago when I left for a week off, I felt worn out, tired, and broken.

During my week off, I kept telling myself I needed to get back in the game and leave this numbness behind. Maybe if I just got some rest and relaxation it would all be better. But as the week continued, I realized that wasn’t enough, and upon returning to Atlanta I felt more rested but still numb, stagnate, and broken.

But then it all broke through, the question that had been in the back of my mind, fighting to get out. Where was God?

Living in a neighborhood where most people live around the poverty line, addiction is all too prevalent, and various forms of violence occur frequently can be taxing. Constant conversations with a group of girls I’ve gotten to know about the issues of race, which seem to never end on a good note. The frustrations building over a school system where it seems too obvious that certain schools and neighborhoods are easily ignored. Watching people I have worked with in the drop in help center come in again and again because after 6 months they still haven’t followed through with appointments, directions, and tasks. Dealing with the hardships that come with living in community. Where is God?

The feeling of continuous unanswered prayers. And while there have definitely been blessings and doors opened over the past several weeks, they haven’t been the prayers that have been most pressing on my heart. How do you face a God that has continuously blessed you and shown you the way more obvious than anytime in your life when you still feel frustrated? Still feel hurt? Still feel so broken?

But then the other night it hit me. I will ALWAYS be broken.

So I sat there in prayer and reflection realizing that God has carried me this far and he will not let me fail. I felt the comfort that only HE can bring, and I knew amongst all my ongoing feelings of hurt and frustration that he is right there beside me, guiding me, and loving me. So while the question still lingers of, Where is God? I face each day and take each step with the faith that he’s got a hold of me.

 

 

 

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