The Motions of Life

The first day of my Couch to 5K running plan, I loaded up a song list on my husband’s iPod and headed out the door. The songs were set to play at random, and I had to chuckle at the first song that played.

“This might hurt

It’s not safe

But I know that I’ve got to make a change … ”

— Matthew West, The Motions

(You can listen to the whole song here or click the link in the video box at the end.)

I can hardly think that song was “random.” I think God has a serious sense of humor.

This might hurt: Learning to run caused some physical pain with sore muscles and stiff joints. (Although, not as much as I anticipated, I think due to how slowly the running plan starts out.)

It’s not safe: It felt incredibly awkward to clumsily jog around my neighborhood for one minute at a time, trying to find good stride and rhythm. There was no guarantee I would finish the program, or even the first day.

But I know that I’ve got to make a change: I know that I need to make some changes to improve my physical health.

There is something more about this running thing and this song, though. I first heard the song about a year ago. I think it could be my theme song for what I am repeatedly learning in my life for the past two years or so.

I don’t want to go through the motions.

I don’t want to just be a good Christian who knows all the answers, lives a nice life and adds knowledge to my mind.

I don’t want to be a wife that lets my marriage become a formality, just an agreement to tolerate each other.

I don’t want to be a mom that let’s life fly by without enjoying my kids at each stage they are in.

I want to really live. And I’m learning that it really is the little things I do each day in my relationship with God and my family that matters most.

To pursue God, listen for His voice and act when He speaks.

To be intentional to spend time with my husband, respecting his leading in our family and appreciating his desire to provide for and protect our family.

I want to enjoy moments with my kids being mindful of how quickly they grow and change.

I used to think that I had to do something huge or risky or dramatic to avoid “going through the motions.” I’m finding the opposite is true. It’s those little things I do each day — even as small as an attitude shift — that determine whether this will be a day of just surviving or intentionally living.


Love & War

I remember a conversation with my brother about a friend of his who was from a culture that practices arranged marriages. I remember talking about how we can hardly fathom the idea and how bizarre it seems to us.

Then my brother said, “But the divorce rate there is almost zero.”

My immediate thought was, “Ah, but are they happy?”

And then, I immediately was disappointed in myself for thinking that, because I “know” that marriage is more than “being happy.”

So, what is marriage all about anyway? Why did God design marriage in the first place? I think the book Love & War: Finding the Marriage You’ve Dreamed Of, by John and Stasi Eldredge, can answer those questions.

This is not your typical “Seven Steps to a Happy Marriage” book written by an author who shares about the people he/she has counseled to a better marriage. Yes, there are some stories about other couples, but mainly the authors tell their own story  — the lows and highs, the bad and good, the ugly and beautiful — of a real marriage. I mean really sharing about their marriage. [Can you imagine writing a book about your marriage for all the world to read? Yeah, me neither.]

It is their realness and honesty that makes this book so good. I read it and felt normal, because as I read about their story I felt like I was reading my own. And while I related to the frustrations, misunderstandings and just general hardness of marriage, I also had the overwhelming feeling of hope. It’s as if the book says, “Hey, it’s Okay! You are normal! But there is something more. Marriage can be so much more … you can do it!”

But, not just that I can do it alone. And not even that Ben and I can do it in our marriage. But that God can do it when we invite Him into our marriage and into our lives. And isn’t that the message of Jesus? He accepts us as we are and invites us to something better.

Like I said, the book isn’t as much a how-to with a list of suggestions, but a story of how John and Stasi have invited God into their marriage. How they have learned to listen to God. How they’ve learned to love. And how they’ve learned that the “war” is not against each other, but against Satan, the enemy who wants to destroy everything God has called good. And most importantly that God offers us something better when we invite Him into our lives. It can seem like a risk — and it is! — but it is worth it.

And so begins the book: ”

It can be done. And it is worth it. Of all the things a man or woman needs to hear about marriage, this is perhaps the most important of all. It can be done. And it is worth it.” (Introduction, page 7)

The book is worth it, too. I find no coincidence in the fact that I finished reading the book in the week Ben and I celebrated our 10th anniversary! Thank you, God, for the gift of marriage! And thank you for the hope you give us!