Posts Tagged ‘singles’

identity first

March 14, 2010 6 comments

Patti and I get lots and lots of face time and correspondence with young adults (most of them single). If you sit with any of them for very long, inevitably the discussion of marriage, prospects of marriage, opinions of marriage, hopes  of or the stiff-arm of marriage explodes to the surface like a Great White that has spotted an unsuspecting seal for dinner!   There are usually plenty of laughs, speculation and at times tears in these discussions, but it is very evident that marriage is still a hot topic in the hearts and minds of most young adults.  I think this is a VERY good thing.

Having been married 32 years to the same woman, (She was 18 and I was 19 when we got hitched.  I was ignorant, immature, naive, full of crap, real immature, narcissistic, clue-less, very immature, selfish, prideful, lost, totally immature, in lust and in love with that hot chick!  Oh…and off the charts immature.  I still can’t believe our parents signed-off on it.  It was crazy, but God came and we made it work!) we listen intently (the previous list warrants lots and lots of grace) and usually offer as much information as they want.  This generation seems to fall into  three categories:  The first, is a bit slower and more intent about getting their ducks in a row and having as many issues as possible resolved before committing to a long term relationship.  We chuckle at this because no amount of damage control on the front end will ward off the work required to make a marriage work.  I am not saying it is a waste! I’m just saying that it is NOT foolproof.  Marriage is work, a good work…but work nonetheless.  The second group, seems to be in a big hurry with the conception that marriage will fix everything.  I am conscious enough to know about body clocks, hormones, and the pleasure of God-given sexuality to know that it has to be very difficult to be 26 years old, in the best shape of your life and not have a mate to hammer out life with; all the while, trying to stay pure and honorable before the Lord!  As I have already mention, I was 19 years old when I married Ms Patti.  I’ve had a best friend and lover for a long time.  The third group is ready for marriage, but the right connections with the right person at the right time hasn’t happened yet.  These people are usually very content, happy in their singleness, but open to the whole prospects of having someone to do life with.

Usually where our counsel goes when someone is really aching to be married, is to focus in on the amount of peace they currently have on their life.  That peace is tied to their confidence in God’s ability and willingness to provide for what they desire and need.  It is also tied to stability in their own identity.  Many are scrambling around trying to figure out their value and self-hood in this life and too often it is just assumed that having a life partner (sorry, that sounds really gay) is the answer to all their questions.  We hear it all too much:  “All I need is_____!” Even if every friend you have is now married and you have a closet full of  hideous bridesmaid’s dresses  (ladies) or a drawer full of cheap key chains (guys), that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s  “bidness time” and you’re ready to be married.  To complicate it even more, if a person knows what they want for a mate, but is unwilling to wait for “their special somebody” with those character qualities deemed most important naturally and spiritually, impatience kicks in and every little flaw in a premature  or “short-cutted” decision ends up being like a target for the enemy to torment with lies and propositions after the deed is done.  After a person is married and “in” covenant is not the time to have the discussions with internal doubt and the musing from hell concerning “did I do the right thing?” We’ve prayed with more than one person plagued with these thoughts…it is NOT kewl!

For an unmarried catholic priest, Richard Rohr O.F.M., points out our misconceptions like a champion bird dog:  “One of the big myths in our culture is that marriage is the answer to one’s problems.  Instead, I’m told, marriage reveals one’s problems.  The people who enjoy marriage are those who first have learned to live life itself.  You can’t create intimacy without identity.  Rather than being the save-all answer to problems, anyone who understands marriage knows it creates a whole set of new ones.  It makes us aware of a need to grow, a need to forgive, to share, to die.  Better to come into married commitment with some sense of those needs and an appreciation that their fulfillment is the work of a lifetime.  Marriage won’t always meet these needs; it puts the couple in a context for working together.  In that context, we learn our issues and problems–and we are given a partner to walk with through those problems.” from Richard’s book, The Spiritual Family and the Natural Family

Let me repeat the mother-lode ideal here:  YOU CAN’T CREATE INTIMACY WITHOUT IDENTITY!!!! Once you’ve found peace in who God has created you to be and what He says about you; and you can settle into a  calm contentment that comes in that “knowing”, THEN you are probably ready to give yourself away and serve your mate in a fashion that brings you and them great happiness and joy.   Intimacy from that place of peace is beyond description…it can only be experienced.  Trying to find completion of your own identity in the gifts, personality or calling of another person is sketchy at best. I say that because people don’t stay in one place.  We change over time.  It’s not that uncommon for me to notice my wife staring at me and to hear the words:  “Uh, honey, who are you?  Was there some kind of alien abduction while we slept last night?  Where is that other guy I’ve known…the one that was here yesterday?” I do the same thing to her… all the time!

We talk about transitions frequently with our spiritual community.  We see what happens to a  young man or woman in the eleven months that they serve on The World Race. Although we discourage it, some hang on to relationships back home while on the Race.  Those particular relationships  will have a drastic challenge when all the dust settles because a racer’s spiritual DNA changes so much while out on the field.  That means that identity changes, desire changes, spirituality changes, theology changes, community changes…it all changes!  That is a lot of stretching and being pulled through the knot-hole in one year!  It may not be that easy to see now, but it might just be a major blessing to not be married while all that demolition and reconstruction are taking place.  Again, we must journey back to the assurance of peace and contentment that “our” special somebody is out there and they may be stuck in their own little private knot-hole.   God might be doing me a huge favor in the delays.  Meanwhile, me working out “my stuff” with the lord probably has me “right on time” to truly get what I desire in the arena of eternal friendship , covenant and marriage.  HE knows where you are and HE knows what you want.  It is ok if it is not all falling into place today!

It is nearly impossible to discuss all the facets and tributaries of marriage.  The statistics and success ratios are not all that great in our culture, but Patti and I think that marriage is still a really good ideal.  It always has been a good ideal.  Maybe one of the best that God has ever had!  It is lots of work and requires abundant and graceful maintenance, but when the machine runs properly and efficiently, it’s quite a ride!  A great life!  The best!


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