This past weekend I was knees deep in dirt working on my Summer project, but once that Georgia Sun rose into her prime I left the work to wait until another (cooler) time. So I met up with some friends at one of my favorite coffee shacks in Decatur for some good cup of joe and conversation. It happens to often to count, but I was sharing some of Annia’s pictures from her recent trip back home to St. Lucia when one of them made that statement that continues to rear its head… “I’m still trying to figure out how you got her?” He chuckled, and ultimately I know it’s a compliment… but sure, let’s give Pastor J. a complex about his ability to attract a woman. (I jest.)
Out of nowhere, maybe it was the heat missing with my mental brakes or simply exhaustion from playing in the dirt from early morning, I smirked and responded: “Maybe, you’re asking the wrong question? Instead of how did I ‘get’ her, you should ponder how I ‘keep’ her.” The group got a little uncomfortable for a moment waiting for what was coming next… it’s in the most uncomfortable moments that the best lessons or wisdom is often received.
This group is an eclectic group of men that meets every other month for coffee and conversation: a few of us are married, some single, and then there’s those that are getting ready to make that covenantal commitment. So the topic of relationships comes up often enough… so this was nothing different. Expect that the statement came from one individual in our group that has had a revolving door of relationships in the past year (and yes I got his permission before writing about him.) So the lesson:
We live in a society today where words matter more than ever, and the perception of those words. It’s a time where marginalized individuals fight to be seen, heard, respected, and valued. To be frank… gone are the days of Locker Room talk, because that talk has a way of steeping into our actions, conversations, and thoughts towards others… especially towards the opposite sex. When we make statements, such as: “How did you get her,” it objectives her as something to ‘collect,’ control, possess, and ultimately breaks her down into something that will be “used” for our purpose. And honestly, the denotation of ‘get’ usually is in relation to her looks, outer beauty, and even measurements… it’s sexualized.
When we has any gender come at a relationship in this manner we create a breaking point or expiration date on our relationships… once we’ve used them we move on to the next ‘getting’ process.
It’s time to flip the mindset.
I’ve said often that a marriage is built on covenant, rather than emotional foundations. I would further that that it’s also built on investment, rather than outer appearance. And, even further it’s built on shared experiences, rather than compatibility. As the years tick of the calendar I can assure you that the person you met at the altar and said ‘I do,’ will not be the same person that you wake up to 5, 10, 15, and 50 years later. Their features will change, their personality will mature, their interest will change or heighten over time, and all of this will be the same soul you committed to joining to… but not the same person. WE MUST GIVE ROOM FOR THIS in our marriages and relationships, in fact we should focus on the fact that in marriage we make a covenant, not a ‘for now’ promise that we can pay $399 to “undo I do.”
We will celebrate our fifth anniversary of marriage this coming October, and the woman that I have watched and witnessed Annia mature into has been amazing. I often say I’m still falling in love with her more every day I get to be married to her. She has helped push me to become better in my career and ministry. She has encouraged me when I felt the world on my shoulders. And not to speak on her behalf, but I’m sure that she would say the same of me. We early on realized something massively vital to the success of our relationship: Every relationship needs to give space for the individual to grow.
When a relationship is determined based on an idea that fits perfectly into a ‘box’ mentality of what it should look like it will fail because the relationship and the individual will be restricted in growth and maturity. All of this based on the idea of “getting.”
The thought process behind “keeping her” is different than “getting” because of the mindset or intentional acts of serving that follow it. In the art of keeping her you have to view it has in keeping a garden. If you neglect it… expect to be overrun with weeds that will choke the life out of the relationship. If you fail to listen… you will starve the relationship of life. If you fail to notice… you will invite others to notice for you. If you fail to encourage… you will allow your relationship to become stale. So… listen, pay attention, encourage, and serve your spouse are all part of the “keeping” process. In fact we should listen to Paul’s wisdom more closely when he states “that husbands love your wives, as Christ loves the Church.” What he is saying is that we should serve our wives in a manner worthy of their station. Let’s unpack that…
Christ overvalued us, but in doing so gave us a priceless value. It’s the same with our wives… we are to, as Christ, value them above what they might be… towards who they can be. And then serve them towards that end. An encouragement of an idea, can lead them to being a business owner. Listening to an issue, can lead to them figuring out then next step in a process or even where they need to change. This is possibly one of the greatest lessons man can learn from Christ about being a husband… He didn’t force change, simply influenced it by BEING PRESENT. So instead of running from our homes and marital beds to find ‘easier’ solutions we should stand and be present and watch what happens.
And I leave it with this… When you make your wife feel like a queen… she will make you a king.