From The Rector…
Steve and I have favorite Bible verses. I am sure most Christians probably do—so this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Steve’s is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me.” Mine is John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” I’m not completely sure why it is important to me to know that Steve has a favorite scripture or that he knows my favorite verse, but I do know that when things happen and I need him or he needs me or we need to point to God in a particular situation, we often quote one another’s verses.
Couplehood is like that. It is a deepening of a relationship rooted and sourced in love. As that love grows it intertwines the two together so that they grow into one another not simply around one another. The most beautiful relationships are when the two are centered around God almost as a braid—interwoven, strengthened, made one even if distinct from the other strands.
When I am counseling a couple as they prepare for marriage, we always talk about how their love for one another is a mirror into God’s love for the world. We believe in a God of relationship—that is the very essence of the Trinity. Our relationships are the ways in which we reflect God to those around us—the way we act toward one another is a witness to how God behaves toward the world. Marriage is that witness at its most fundamental level. As Christians, the way we treat those whom we love says a lot about how we understand and participate in the love of God. We might profess our faith, do good works for the poor, give until it hurts, and all of those things are good, but it is our relationships with our spouse and children and parents and siblings that tell the story of God’s love.
When we attempt to control and mold others into the image of our own ideas and expectations, we make a statement about who God is. We witness to others that God requires us to become something we may not be—something modeled on a particular expectation that often leads us down a path of inadequacy and confirms our fears of judgment and lack of worth. When we are able to accept the other for who they are and not place conditions or expectations upon them, we often find that people begin to grow into godly people who love and encourage one another instead of limiting and defining one another.
Loving and encouraging one another is the basis for a godly relationship with others. When we attempt to do the work for the other person or judge them for the ways in which they haven’t done it according to our particular standards, we limit them, ourselves, even God. In essence, we limit the world because we have defined it in our terms instead of allowing the world to break open into all the new possibilities beyond our own imaginings.
Steve and I are far from perfect when it comes to being a reflection of God’s love to the world. But I take comfort in those favorite Bible verses. In dark times, Steve often quotes John and reminds me that there is light and hope in the world no matter what may come to pass. I hope, in the same way, I can serve as a strength and encouragement to Steve whenever he is faced with challenges that seem insurmountable. He is my light; I pray I am his strength—gifts of God to each other and to the world.
May God’s light shine in your life and may you be strengthened through Christ to do all things.
Light and Life,