When I first started learning Soul Care from Patti I wasn't sure how couples would respond to me as a counselor who was single. I mean come on, even I might roll my eyes as a young doe-eyed woman began a monologue about the beauty, virtue, and splendor to the metaphor of marriage and how great it was they were seeking help in their marriage.
But ironically, Patti told me differently. "Susie I think because you hold up the image and standard, not jaded by the disappointment, you invite us to see it as Christ intended."
I had Patti to thank. Early on in my twenty-something spiritual formation, I was recovering from a broken heart and was left rather skeptical about how a union like this could ever work. It was then that Patti courageously invited me into "the metaphor of marriage."
Susie, you have to first and foremost think of it in it's original context and ideal. Christ and the church. Husbands and wives in their union are to reflect that truth. It is only then that you can develop eyes to see what a husband and wife are struggling with in their marriage and what God is wanting to heal and reveal through them.
W O W !
She then began to paint the most beautiful picture of Jesus loving his church so much that he gives himself over to her again and again, for better or for worse. He loves to put her on display to celebrate her beauty, grace, and dignity. She blossoms in His Presence and people look-in wondering, "What's going on? I want that...How do I get it?" She joyfully comes under his tender strength and fierce love because she trusts him. He is always looking out for her best interest, coming alongside her shortcomings, and because of that special dignity she feels from him, she wants nothing more than to follow His ways and share in the adventure of life with him forever.
So are you like me? Did your heart weave in and out wondering whether I was talking about the church or marriage? And about mid-way, did you let out a deep sigh, wondering "When was the last time I experienced a marriage like that? Let alone came close in my marriage?"
When I first began to understand this, both the gift and crucible of marriage, all I wanted to do was marriage counseling. Because I think I got it...really got it!
Did these couples have any idea of the power and magnitude of healing that could be brought about through their love? Or worse, the devastation their bitterness and rejection of each other could cause?
The reason your union has been assaulted from day one, is not because you are a failure, a mess of a christian, rather the enemy hates what you share and the image you bear! He uses every scrap of trash he can grab on, early on, to take you out. He hates love and he hates love that births life!
So what if spouses stopped seeing the other partner as the enemy and learned to fight for their spouses heart, as a reflection of Christ's love and his commitment? What if in the midst of all the tension, misunderstanding, woundedness, men and women began to speak words of life to one another? Guided each other into healing? Had the courage to ask others for help?
This is the gift John and Staci Eldredge have given us in Love & War.
Could there be a better title about marriage?
This is no news that I am fans, allies, comrades, whatever you want to call it of the Eldredges. I may not agree with every jot and tittle, but let's just say the very fact that they had the courage to sit down, pull up their sleeves, and offer the nitty gritty of their marriage, is reason enough for me to read it and want to learn from it. John and Staci are the kind of kingdom people who have helped me again and again stay the course (and prepare the course for marriage).
Not everyone gets a Patti Cepin who modeled, explained, and invited me into her own sacred crucible of marriage (to which, John and Patti, I am forever grateful). But I think a lot of you wish more couples, like the Cepins and Eldredges, would invite you in to learn from their marriage, if nothing less than to know you are not alone and there is hope.
Consider this my war cry for couples everywhere...Let's Start a Revolution. And like all Revolutions, it starts with the courage of the few... Why not gather a group of couples with open hearts (which almost always means broken hearts) and begin to journey together reading Love & War, letting it stew in your hearts, togather stand against the enemy's schemes, and go kick some kingdom butt together!
I can't help but wonder how the face of 21st century Christianity would be turned upside down!?!?