I remember when the concept of reality shows first came out. It was a fascinating idea to watch people’s lives without the traditional and predictable plot structure. It didn’t take long though for this to be a misnomer. There is not much reality in these scripted shows anymore. Instead, they build upon stereotypes without any real interaction between people. I’ve come to realize that marriage, or any relationship, can follow this same unfortunate trend.
Like those false reality shows, there should be no script for relationship. When my husband and I were young and dating, I would have denied any mention of my expectations. I could have quoted you all the wise sayings concerning this, but my expectations were too deep for me to see. They were just what I thought was right. They were embedded in my heart, and I was blind.
We all do this, male and female alike. We build upon the stereotypes of our understanding and craft an idea of what should be. We do it with ourselves and our partners. What ensues is a battle–a battle for power. Whose script will win? The one who pushes and pushes or the one who retreats?
I ’ve learned a lot over the past sixteen years of marriage, but I’ve mostly learned that I still really don’t have a clue. I have read many books on marriage, studied God’s Word on it, and, while I can identify the traits of a godly marriage, I still haven’t figured out how I should be. This is hard for me. I like structure and plans for improvement. This desire drives almost every area of my life–but it cannot drive my marriage.
I wish I had known so many years ago that a script just doesn’t work. It can’t work because there is no freedom or authenticity in it. In fact, God rejected this approach from the very beginning. When He created Adam and Eve, He could have laid down a complicated law of how to approach Him and interact with Him. Instead, He walked with them and gave them only one clear boundary that was not to be crossed. The rest He let them understand in the context of relationship.
They didn’t have how-to books on how to relate to God. They just had Him.
God’s truth is truly a divider, getting down to the deepest parts of us. And deep down I want to know a script, and I want to do it right. However, to truly relate to God, I must surrender this desire and the false security it brings. I want to come before God without an agenda. I want to come as I’d always dreamed true relationship would be: as myself, weak and vulnerable.
l will start by not evaluating myself, except in regard to the clear boundaries God has set. I will find that girl whom I know is within me, the one who just wants to be with the Beloved. My heart responds to God’s offer in Hosea 3:15-16a (ESV):
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,”
That simple faith and that simple interaction will open the door for me to be who I am. And, then, maybe I will know how to be in a relationship, in a marriage, that is a true reflection of reality–one as free and authentic as it was meant to be.