Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Mirror of Marriage

I think I remember reading somewhere recently--perhaps in Gary Thomas' book Sacred Marriage (which I highly recommend)--that marriage can function as a mirror, helping us to see and face the ugly parts of ourselves. I experienced that firsthand last night already in my month-old marriage.

I was making chicken enchiladas for dinner, and Steve was in the kitchen helping me. I hadn't particularly had a bad day, so I don't know where my mood came from, but I found myself just snapping at him for no apparent reason, acting short with him and irritable. He hadn't done anything to deserve or provoke it. The thing is, I think in nine kitchens out of ten across America, the situation would have quickly devolved into a snapping match. I know that when someone is short with me, my reaction is usually to return the favor. But that's why Steve is so good for me: his patient, easygoing nature enabled him to remain calm and steady, which served even more effectively in holding up a mirror to my face. The stark contrast between his attitude and mine emphasized the ugliness of mine.

Suddenly I really did feel like I was staring at myself in a mirror--and I definitely didn't like what I saw. So I apologized and tried to snap out of it, and then while the enchiladas were in the oven, I had a chance to have some quiet time I'd put off all day (huh. think there's a connection there?). Not that things between the two of us were suddenly peachy (I think Steve was recovering from whiplash, wondering how I could be so awful one minute and fine the next). We had a good conversation later that helped us work through things and reminded us that we're dealing with sinful humans in this marriage and it's going to take hard work at times.

Not long ago, there was a time when I would have wallowed in that little mood indefinitely. I might have realized in a tiny part of the back of my mind how I was acting, but wouldn't have cared. So I think the huge fact that I was able to recognize it and apologize and seek to change it means two things: 1) God's grace is really at work in me, growing me, and 2) marriage, even when it's hard, is going to be a really amazing tool God uses for growing me.


Kayla said...

I have been so mad at that "mirror" that I threw it across the room and broke it before I think. Isn't is awesome that marriage stems from God's love for us as his bride and when your husband is growing, he loves you the same and forgives the same too?! Lucky us!

Amanda said...

Yeah, I've had this too. It's tough, but patient husbands are the best! And ones who aren't afraid to let you know when you've messed up.

Amy, though we didn't really get to know each other til the end of college ...everything I know of you makes me think about all the things we have in common. :)

Good luck in your new marriage.