In the car over the weekend I was quizzing my daughter about history for her upcoming test. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, et. al. and the power of stories just continues to strike me. Discord in our society seems to increase the more we erase from our minds and schools the stories of our country. The thing that united us – the stories of the founding of this country and its rise to greatness. Jesus said (and Lincoln repeated) that a house divided against itself cannot stand. How long until that catches up with us?
While some of those musings occupied my mind for a few moments, I again came back to the affect of the stories we tell – especially those we begin to tell ourselves. Internally dividing our own house. I am guilty of beginning to spiral downward just a couple weeks ago. While healing in my marriage is happening steadily, I would also say that the pace is not what I was hoping for. Looking back over the past few weeks I can say – slow and steady wins the race. Better to rebuild slowly and have the work done solidly and properly than to have quick construction reminiscent of the typical Florida home.
But, such a conclusion was exactly what I was able to begin talking myself out of. After a couple of minor interactions that didn’t meet my expectations (how subtly I can make a goal for my wife’s behavior) some new refrains began to appear in my stories. Rather than “how can I use this interaction to show her I love her” or “how can I respond out of godly masculinity“, I began to focus on me. For me it becomes to easy to describe how good I am doing compared to her. “Obviously she is not trying” or “she is making a decision to not forgive me” and just like that my stories begin to focus on me.
Rather than seeing the amazing process of God at work – the tender hugs, shared happiness over an opportunity I have received, glimmers of respect – and rejoicing in gratitude, I become blind to those things because of where my stories have led me. On a much, much smaller scale, this is the epitome of what happened in the previous 10 years of marriage leading up to my affair. Becoming more and more blind to the things of God – hardening my own heart.
Good news, though, I am learning! This only lasted a couple days. Slow as it may be. God has broken me all the way down, like taking a Yugo engine apart, and is rebuilding me – and when He does it, instead of a refurbished Yugo I’ll have the soothing sound of a V8 Chevy Silverado. While it is hard not to resist the process, I am giving him freedom to create a new me: follower of Jesus, husband, father, and hopefully pastor again someday.
Rather than imperfections being cause to flee from God, I am not scared to run to Him with my failures. Responding to conviction. Having a sensitivity to the things of God because I am not trying to impress Him with what a great dude I am. This is part of my being on guard, staying alert and being a man of courage. Letting God mold me into a man of courage will be the thing that continues to transform my marriage and everything else.