i have a bunch of thoughts, and i'm not sure i have the talent or patience to organize them. so here goes.
last night i finished reading the brothers k. it took well over a month of pretty consistent reading, and i cried my way through the final seventy-five pages or so (which reminds me of harry potter and the half-blood prince...anyway). after 600+ pages of family tensions and arguments and divisiveness, the book ends with hope and love. what brings the family together again is the death of a loved one. anytime i read about death, my mind unwillingly creates scenarios of my own loved ones dying and the realization that it will happen. this kind of melancholy is pretty common for me late at night when it's dark and i'm the only one awake. hence the overabundance of tears. (whoever said women are like spaghetti, where events and emotions from all parts of life are connected...well, they're right. at least about me.)
after finishing the book around 11:30 and mopping up my face, i realized i had been overhearing an argument from our neighbor's apartment. i initially wrote it off as conversation, but soon figured out that it was much more heated than that. confession: sometimes i can't help eavesdropping. in fact, i walked into the spare room and listened to the argument through the open window. only for a few minutes. i'm not sure why i do it. i guess it's like watching a car accident, or a movie. i'm fascinated by other people's lives, especially when they're so different from mine. this woman was on the phone with her boyfriend, yelling and swearing and accusing him of cheating, telling him she didn't want to talk, she just wanted sex, etc. after a few minutes, i didn't want to listen anymore. i felt overwhelmed by the sadness of the world. (what i really wanted to do was wake philip up and tell him how grateful i was for him, but i think he was glad i waited until this morning for that...)
back up to sunday morning's sermon, entitled "the ideal marriage." i love how tom takes scriptures that i have heard misused (and usually haven't realized have been misused) and shares the cultural context. this particular text was mark 10: 1-12--Jesus' perspective on divorce. this is a passage i've heard used against divorce, and of course divorce isn't in God's ideal plan. however, i can't reconcile this with the people i know who have been through divorce. it's painful and messy and it sucks.
tom shared the political and religious background of this text. the pharisees are testing Jesus because of herod and herodias. they had divorced their first spouses in order to marry each other. john the baptist was beheaded for condemning this, and the pharisees hoped Jesus was next. the pharisees' approach to the question is "what can i get away with?" while Jesus' approach is "what is God's intent?"
this blows my mind. Jesus takes the pharisees' narrow, negative, and legalistic view and turns it upside down, revealing God's grace and his love for his children. the question tom asked is "what do God's commands reveal about his heart?" God's desire for us and our marriages is to live out the great commandment of loving my neighbor, and who fits the definition of "neighbor" better than my spouse?
marriage is tough. it requires sacrifice and love and giving above all else. i've sporadically prayed for my own and others' marriages, but i'm going to pray more diligently for them. tom pointed out that the best support we have for marriage is prayer and the example of other long-married couples. i think i too easily take for granted couples who have been married a long time. but after hearing our neighbor's argument last night, i realize that lasting relationships and marriages are precious.
so i think you should go hug your husband or wife if you have one, and pray for marriages of people you love.