I have picked up a gem of a book – and I would highly recommend you buy this book (or beg, borrow or steal – okay, not steal… but read this book).
It has begun to dawn on me – in the far reaches of my brain, that perhaps, just maybe, sexual intimacy with your husband is way of honoring and worshiping God. And that thought is kind of, well, embarrassing to think. Using God and sex in the same sentence just somehow doesn’t gel. Whatever reasons you have for this – be it a conservative upbringing, incorrect church doctrine, gossip among friends that led you to feel ashamed and embarrassed – we usually don’t talk about God and sex as a single topic. And even as I am typing this, I know that I am walking into a mine field – because I am new to this way of thinking, because I have so much to learn, so much growth to still happen, and I feel like I am so far from the ideal.
And that’s something else that I have been learning – there is no ideal.
…Voltaire, a famous writer from the French Enlightenment, warned us not to let the prefect become the enemy of good.
So, don’t chase so much after an ideal when you could be experiencing the real thing – right now!
And Gary Thomas has really opened up my mind to how marriage, a relationship and sexual intimacy can be a way of worshiping God. I have said for a long time, and I have prayed many times over the last couple of years that God will grant me the wisdom and the desire to honor my husband, because in honoring my husband – I will be honoring God. And I do believe that to be true.
Gary Thomas just took it to the next step of helping me to see God as my father-in-law, and that God delights in me loving my husband in a way that will honor my husband, in a way that really gets him, understands him and knows what he is about. And here’s the thing – the thing that was a mind opener for me: that kind of love is not something that happens overnight or instantly when you meet someone, that kind of love is purposefully cultivated and nurtured and attended to over a lifetime together. So, you may be in an awful marriage now, and there may be reasons that you need to leave your marriage (only you know the true state of your marriage and your heart), but whatever the state of your marriage may be – know that learning to love your spouse, and know your spouse, in a way that honors God will create a dynamic that will foster change in your marriage. That change could be as small as greeting your spouse when they come home; God is the God of the small things – the details that make up our everyday lives. And here is something that Gary Thomas mentions right in the beginning of his book that really got me thinking: I don’t honor and love my spouse in a way that may change our marriage, or for my benefit, or for creating a Hollywood romance – I love my spouse in the best way possible, because it is in worship to God. And for no other reason. And that is hard, so very, very hard to do. We want some sort of recognition, some sort of reward – especially if we are married to and put up with a very difficult spouse. But, we may not always get that reward – not in the life at least. We keep our rewards in Heaven.
Having said that though, the chances of loving your spouse as God intended and NOT changing the dynamic of your relationship in some small way is highly unlikely. I know – I’m living out this reality now. But, the thing is, as I am focusing on loving my husband with God’s grace, it’s not my husband who is changing – it is me. I find myself more filled with love and compassion for who he is and what he experiences every day. I am the one being drawn to holiness. And for that I am deeply humbled and very grateful.
This journey of mine started with my husband telling me I could be very negative and aggressive and has led me to grow in more areas of my life I ever thought possible. My husband is also growing – I can see changes in him. But, for me, it’s not about his growth – it’s about my call to holiness and me worshiping God through honoring my husband.
I read Gary Thomas’ book because of The Marriage Challenge on To Love, Honor and Vacuum. Here Sheila Wray Gregoire has challenged us to read one book a month – twelve books over the year – and I started with a Lifelong Love. And I would highly recommend that book.
I am now reading Passion Principles by Shannon Ethridge – and this book, too, although I am not even half way through, has taken what Gary has said by focusing on the actual relationship being a way to worship God, has taken sex to be the actual act of worship. It is hard to get your mind around when you have grown up in such a conservative culture like mine. And for me – the biggest shock was to be encouraged to think of Jesus as a sexual human being. Honestly, in my 42 (almost 42) years of being alive that thought has never, ever occurred to me. But, what Shannon says makes so much sense that even though I was shocked, I kept on going, “yes, yes, yes”.
I will be giving my thoughts and my growth path after I have ready Shannon’s book at the end of the month, but for now, read a Lifelong Love. It will change your view on marriage, and the importance of giving to your spouse because God has so freely given to you.
I am looking forward to completing The Marriage Challenge this year – I am hoping and praying for huge growth in my marriage, in my relationship and in our bed. But, more importantly, I am hoping and praying for huge growth in me…