Part IV of my authentic relationship series.
Part I - The Fact Is, I am Eve Too.
Part II - Owning Truth - From Romantic to Real
Part III - Nothing Hidden - The Breaking
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19)
Sometimes, I think of my passage from my first love into God’s love as a becoming. It is as if I did not exist – until I did, until He made me, until His Truth was such a part of me I couldn’t be anything else. No illusion I create for myself can survive His own authentic immutability. God is who He is, and He is God.
My marriage, broken early at His altar because of my Eve-dust, is more real now than I imagined it could be. My love for my husband is not fantasy, patched and stitched and created and recreated to fit my ideals. When I share with Pete, I share myself. I learn not to excuse myself, justify myself.
Though Pete is amused at my self-struggles at times, he loves me gently, trusting the work of God in both of us, choosing trust instead of judgment and wife-improvement. But I am not responsible for his response to me, amazing as it has been. Always, I am reminded that what grace he has for me is given him by the Lord. It is not something I can expect or demand, because it is between Him and God.
It is instead my own response that draws my focus. I can’t present an illusion of me to Pete. Living real with a person removes blinders; he knows me as no one but God knows me. My own blinders are gone. He could reject my heart at any moment; he will fail to lay his life down for me at times; he will inevitably hurt me. This is my cross, the becoming one of my marriage that opens me, gives my whole naked self into Love that already laid down His life for me, Love that walked vulnerable to be crucified so that I might have Life.
I offer him myself and I find grace for him, and love that offers itself in spite of me. And while I face and despise my weaknesses, I know that I would not be anyone else, daughter of Eve that I am. My real has become God, the unchangeable One who is always “I Am.”
“The heart of her husband safely trusts her…”
When my desire to have control of my life fell out and I had no choice but to collapse into mercy, I realized that the virtuous woman of Proverbs was not virtuous because of her many fine qualities. She was virtuous because she feared the Lord in her heart, and He spilled out of her heart in everything she did. She had become. Her husband was unafraid of her secrets, for he knew the God who moved her had promised him “good and not evil all the days” of his life.
I want to walk before God-who-is-Real with fear that is holy and unterrified. I want a pure heart - to be poured out at His feet holding only unkept secrets to share. I want to answer His “how far will you go with me” with ever-deepening intimacy, shedding my fear of vulnerability into Christ-grace.
As the “enter” bell tingles over that coffee-shop door, I gather my courage and listen.
As I have pondered my friends’ stories, I've tried to imagine myself in their places. I wonder what heart-cry led to their choices, what unanswered questions they wanted satisfied. I read their words and see their hearts, broken and healed, taking measures and setting boundaries, yet unsure at times of their new identities, forgiven, covered in Christ.
I learn from them, embrace the grace of which they speak, understanding they know it deeply. They share their failures to love, and I learn to ask for freedom to love without constraint. They share their attempts to find intimacy in secrets, and I learn to ask for intimacy that may share without fear or shame, and for trust that is built on Truth that is a Person.
I hope that my far is far enough to go with them embracing their authenticity with my own vulnerability, hoping they won't reject me because my story is "less" or different.
I know in Jesus, this Eve can find relationship naked and unashamed, with my dust and sin and instinctual desire for control covered by His righteousness as patience has its wait-work in my heart for Spirit change. I am only just learning to receive and offer the grace I have been given, learning that I can answer the “how far will you go” in the knowledge that God has loved me, and really, that is why we love anyway.
This will be the last "official" post in this series from my unpublished article on authentic relationship. The comments I have received have started some lines of thought I'd like to pursue at some point (perhaps some more on the expectations we had of marriage, and a bit more of what happened in my heart prior to my relationship with Pete). There is so much more I could write, so much more to tell, and the time will come, I know. For now, though, I'm needing to step back and take some time to breathe through the remains of my photography processing.
Related Posts from the Past (for your enjoyment, and a little more of the story):
What is Marriage, Anyway?
Some Wedding Rememberies
Pete Is a Thief, You Know
(Image © Informal Moments Photography) (credit: Gabe Waddell)