Two mini rants:
1. I do not, not, not appreciate when people refer to marriage as a club. "Welcome to the marriage club/wives club/couples club!" Such statements have been uttered with sincere excitement, often posted on some sort of social networking medium. “You will love being married—it’s so wonderful!” Thanks for that!
Now, I understand the people who are saying this most likely have good intentions. What they probably mean: Hey, marriage is a unique and sometimes difficult journey, and I have been on this journey for a while now with my husband/wife (side note: the only people I have ever heard utter this "club" statement have been married for 5 years of less), and I am excited to have another person with whom I can talk about marriage—now you will be able to empathize and identify, because you, too, will be married! And yeah, we like talking to people with whom we can relate, because it’s validating and informative and comforting. We like being around people like us. And there is absolutely a need to reach out and say, you, too? Me, too.
And yet—marriage should not be a club. Clubs imply membership, and rules, and exclusion of people who don’t qualify. And the truth is, we all need each other. We all learn from each other: the married ones, the divorced ones, the single ones, the dating ones, the outgoing ones, the solitary ones. We should not exclude one another by making a club formed around our shared relationship status. In the Kingdom of God, social boundaries and divides are breached. Common sense is turned on its head. Jesus brings together people who probably wouldn’t normally choose to be together. And in a culture obsessed with finding meaning and purpose and security through romantic attachments—often leaving our single brothers and sisters feeling disoriented and insecure about why they “can’t land” a partner—the absolute last thing we need to do as Christians is post on Facebook about a “married persons” club. This simply creates walls and clear lines of “who’s in” and “who’s out.” And I am not okay with this. What we really need, I believe, is to be supportive and loving and excited for all our friends, no clubs, just community, throughout all the seasons of life. There will be seasons for marriage, birth, death, and all the other things that come with being alive. Let’s not cut ourselves off from meaningful and fruitful relationships because we feel the need to divide according to marital status, okay? “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” (Here)
2. This quote has floated around the web, attributed to the original Normal Jean: “A wise girl kisses but doesn’t love, listens but doesn’t believe, and leaves before she is left.” Oh, Marilyn…
I want to say to this philosophy: no. This is not intimacy. This is not love. What she expresses here is fear, and self-defense, and I understand there are reasons why people come to feel this way, but I want those layers to be peeled back and healed, not celebrated as “girl power.” I want to tell you, and I think you already know this, that real intimacy involves risk, and embarrassment, and vulnerability. It means not quitting when things become inconvenient. It means putting down the mask and confessing your brokenness to another person. We cannot do this with everyone, because not everyone will treat our vulnerability with tenderness and respect. But this does not mean we should avoid or run away from vulnerability with everyone, for the rest of our lives.
Leaving before you are left is protective, and defensive, but it sometimes requires more bravery to stay, I think.(Of course, we are not required to stay in every relationship, and there are absolutely situations where an individual’s spiritual, emotional, or physical well-being requires the leaving of a relationship or friendship that is damaging and unsafe. What I am addressing here is not abuse or unhealthy relationships, but the tendency in our culture to believe that never letting anyone close makes you stronger and better.As we have been discussing lately at Bethany Community Church, we are isolated and lonely because of this belief).So, to close this bloggy rant, I offer Marilyn this well-worn quote from Clive:“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
And with that, I wish you a happy Friday, and applaud any reader who has made it all the way through to this point. I appreciate your listening ear.