Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Love Those Who Love Me, Pretty Much...But If They Don't?

Just yesterday I was e-mailing a friend and telling her why I didn't think I could paint with her on Sunday. I'm just too exhausted after church! It's strange that a few hours of church could so wipe me out, but it does. Last Sunday, toward the time we were almost ready to go home, I was realizing how jittery, kind of hyperactive, I felt, and it wasn't until about a half-hour of being home that it calmed down--and then I slept. I don't think it was just the coffee; I'd only had two cups, and I'm used to more. I think it was the excitement of seeing so many people who have become, or are becoming, friends in the church-family sense of the word. I love it! It's the highlight of my week, every time.
God's been working on me in relationships, probably most of all in our marriage, which came through some kind of rough spots especially for the first number of years (and held together pretty much entirely by God's grace!). I've been pondering that a bit lately. It would seem the obvious thing, but just lately I've been able to articulate to myself, "Self," so to speak, "if marriage is 'until death do us part,' no matter how we're feeling any particular day, we should make the best possible, most enjoyable thing of every day--then for the rest of our lives, we'll both be more content, and our relationship will more reflect that of Christ and the Church." Well, that wasn't too earthshakingly profound that I shouldn't have figured that out 25 years back (except that I didn't know Christ)...and I'm not sure whether I can really get the thought entirely into words...still, I think just putting it into my own words (inadequate though they may be) with my own brain in my own terms made it more real and pertinent and practicable. It's a good thing! It wasn't that we were being so horrible to one another (well, perhaps at times...), but we weren't the best we could be, and it was as much my fault as anything. I can be so prideful, and that's the last thing a marriage needs on either side! It could well have been our study in Ephesians and its description of marriage reflecting Christ and the Church that guided me in my renewed thought. Last Sunday, too, the visiting pastor spoke well on marriage from that passage, and gave many helpful insights.
It's true in friendships, too. Many of mine have gone by the wayside just because I didn't exactly pour myself into them. I guess you can only pour yourself so many directions and you start becoming a tiny trickle everywhere--but I do regret losing track of a number of friendships thanks to their moving away, or our changing churches, and my not pursuing communications with them. I'm not sure what the solution is when time is so at a premium. Still, time is valuable to everyone, and spending a little time on communication speaks volumes to the recipient. "Self, pursue those friends that have moved away." Maybe my little self-talk there will do some good; I should do the best with what I've been given, and when I don't think I have, I have some renewal-making to set myself doing! At least that should be enjoyable enough!
(Now isn't this something. Tim comes down from upstairs, and says out of the blue, "Why haven't we had the Gardners over?" Some friends from two churches back, who live about 3 or 4 miles away, who we've pretty much lost contact with--had them over about 5 years ago, and not since, though there's no reason not to except that time issue. The Lord works in strange ways...is this a sign?)
Not only friendships. All relationships. Relatives. I have to say when things get prickly with them, which they have readily enough, especially since we don't share the same faith, I just tend to retract and say no more. I need to improve there as well. It shows that I generally love those who love me (especially if they live nearby), and I don't very much love those who don't love me (Mt 5:43-48)...it reminds me of a poem from my English Literature class in college, by George Wither. (I think actually it has its healthy aspects in dealing with people; it's regarding a man who finds a woman attractive, but when she doesn't return the favor, he says this:)
Shall I wasting in despair
--Die because a woman's fair
Or my cheeks make pale with care,
Because another's rosie are?
Be she fairer than the day,
Or the flowery meads of May,
If she be not so to me,
What care I how fair she be?

I tend to take the same tack if people don't see much merit in me--I so readily just dismiss them; after all, there are plenty of others to turn my focus upon. To an extent it's a reasonable thing to do, maybe the only reasonable thing; but with some relationships, such as relatives, I think maybe I give up too readily--since God has ordained that we will forever be related, likely to see each other at least at weddings and funerals, and if never in between--isn't that a dismally poor kind of relationship! "Self, do something to pursue the broken relationships with relatives." Sigh.

So, going to church and seeing so many lovely people just right there face to face, generally agreeable and sweet, my heart just bursts with anticipation at going there for worship and easy, wonderful fellowship. Who could not enjoy partaking of that? Perhaps I have the heart of a little kid, or a puppy. After church, I'm exhausted, and I need a nap. It is, after all, a day of rest.


Anonymous said...

I'm learning about the Old Testament, and I think the Israelites must have had so much more stamina than us! I would have started whining long before my tongue clove to my mouth with thirst from the wilderness.

What is the reference for that passage in Ephesians? It would be fun to search for it myself, but just in case you found it:). I really appreciate the reminder of that principle of agape-loving those who are hard to love! I know you are a living example of that!

NeverAlone said...

Hello, Shani! So great to see you via blogger and facebook! I think also how wimpy I am in comparison to Bible heroes and even to those we can remember from a couple of generations back...when church sermons went for hours as a matter of course...
Oh, you must get to know Ephesians! I was acquainted with it, but now we are old friends thanks to our church's study of it. The passage regarding marriage is 5:22-33. You will recognize it when you read it. The book is only 6 chapters long, easy to know well.