“Bring me your night terrors. I will make them stand silent. Give me your fears and I will replace them with pure calm. I will gather your demons and slaughter them one by one. I will empty your heart of stress, anxiety and discord. I will fill it with love, peace and happiness.”
We are lucky to live near one of God’s most beautiful creations. We live close to the beach. For those of you, Dear Readers, who have been on this journey with me for a while know that the beach, particularly Perdido Key is home to me and my family. (See page 21 in the Perdido Key Visitors Guide for my article about home)
The beach is for me like being in church. Not everyone will understand and that’s ok. If you pray and ask God to meet you where you are, he will not let you down. He will be there.
Today we will go to the beach. We will marvel at the beauty of God’s creation. We will sing songs of praise in the car. We will share the love of God with each other. I do not believe that God loves me less for not going to church on his day, but rather choosing to spend the day with my family out in nature that he created. There is nothing in the bible that says Sunday can’t also be a fun day.
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (NIV)
What is marriage? Is it a wedding ceremony and a license? Is it a commitment to love honor and obey? Marriage is defined by Webster’s as the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law or by the rite by which the married status is effected, an intimate or close union. No mention of love.
Marriage existed before any government was organized. For thousands of years, people were getting married without a marriage license. Even today, there are some countries that have no governmental recognition of marriage and no legal requirements for marriage. Government endorsement is usually necessary for certain benefits, however. In American history, up to around the 1920’s, there was no such thing as a marriage license. The states invented them as a way to dictate who could and could not get married. Primarily as a way to stop white people from marrying black people. Still no mention of love.
Some people believe that a man and a woman are married in God’s eyes when they have completed some kind of formal wedding ceremony. There is an event, action, covenant, vow, or proclamation that is recognized as declaring a man and woman to be married. Love may be present, maybe not.
But does the very act of getting married constitute a true partnership? Does connecting yourself to another in the bonds of marriage mean that you are equally respected, loved or wanted?
Though many of my characters that I write choose to get married, I for one do not like what marriage has become in today’s society. It is an institution that gives people carte blanche to dictate what another person can and can’t do. I consider myself an expert on how not to be a spouse and how not to preform life as a married person. I should know I have had three failed marriages. Just as it takes two to make a marriage work it takes two to destroy one as well. I know, I have been there. Usually it plays out that one person gives up sooner in the marital timeline than the other. The vow is broken, hurt happens and loss is felt. Often a marriage dies long before the participants are willing to admit it. How many times have you known people who stayed married for the sake of the children or other reason that is not that they truly liked being together? Notice I said marriage not love.
Love is a choice. Love is a promise to cherish the other person.
You choose to love or not. There are couples who are more devoted to each other without a marriage license than others who have been married for years. It is society that has conditioned us to believe that those who are in committed relationships but are not legally married are somehow not valid partnerships. Somehow we are taught to believe that two people can’t be devoted if they do not get married or we think maybe they don’t love each other, trust each other, or care about each other enough to get married.
Marriage as ordained by God is a spiritual connection that is grounded in faith not government. Faith in God, faith in each other and faith in your choice to be together. It is not based on the human’s faulty idea of marriage that is a contract and dictated by social norms. It is the choice and promise of commitment to that one other person that is important. Love and devotion do not require a piece of paper or even a ceremony. Ultimately, that is between the couple and God. Only God knows our true heart (1 John 3:20).
A marriage license is just a piece of paper. If there is no love there is no point.
Why do we do it? We know it is ridiculous, yet we go there every time. Let someone say something positive or negative, we over analyze and pick it apart. Let that someone be our spouse or significant other and we go in to overthinking over drive. We examine methodically and in detail every word and action, typically for purposes of our assumed interpretation.
Stop it. It is deadly to happiness, peace and love.
It makes no difference if what we know is the truth. If it doesn’t fit in our preconceived reality we will think it to death to make it fit. It never ends up resembling the truth. Oh, it may have tiny similarities of the truth, but it will not save you from the anxiety that will result.
There is only one cure, one solution to correct or stop your over thinking. Communicate openly with your person. Let them tell you the truth. Now here’s where it gets difficult, trust them. Don’t give the trust lip service. Really and truly trust them. What if they are lying to you? So what? If they are not telling you the truth, the truth will come out. It always does. Trusting them frees you from the demon of over thinking.
Love and peace will follow.
This has been a tough weekend. We said goodbye, we worked through some dark thoughts, and we experienced stress. I am almost certain that you, dear reader, had some similar trying days recently. Oh, I am not psychic, it’s called being human.
Today I have decided not to worry. I have decided to focus on love. I have decided to just be thankful for today. I know that the future holds some tough stuff that I will have to deal with too. It also holds amazing miracles I know is coming.
Again, I am not psychic, I know what I know.
I know that God almighty, the maker of all things, the holder of sparrows, the painter of sunsets, the curator of lilies, the feeder of the thousands, the drier of tears, the keeper of souls, the forgiver of sin…..and my Lord will give me all that I need. Nothing can take me from Him.
So, I will not worry or even think about tomorrow and what it might bring, I will be thankful for today.
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
It is no secret that I am a different kind of Christian. I am transparent about what I believe. My Jesus is not like the picture of Jesus that is hanging in the Sunday school classroom. My Jesus does not have silky red and white robes with perfectly combed hair, a perfect completion, and smiling looking up heavenly with crystal blue eyes. My Jesus is dirty from his travels on the dusty Jerusalem roads. He is battered, bloody, poor, tired, thirsty…a fugitive criminal.
What would happen if he walked in chose a pew for himself and took a seat next to Mrs. Never Skip Church in her Sunday best dress and hat? She would smile at him and say good morning, I doubt it. My guess is she would scowl and slide over away from Him. When we attend church, we expect to see a certain group of people around us in the pews. Everyone dressed in his or her good clothes nodding at the pastor. Children listening and not crying disturbing the rest of us. Would Jesus be comfortable in your church family?
It is so easy to attend church on Sunday and walking out feeling good about ourselves. What good Christians we are for not hitting the snooze and staying home. Being a Christian is more than a Sunday and maybe a Wednesday occurrence.
Being a Christian is a daily existence. It is a living breathing part of your life. It is Jesus living through you. The real Jesus, not the made up good-looking one, but the Savior who died for our sins.
To be like Jesus we have to get out of the pew and into the world. We have to go and serve those in need. Many of us do lip service to this effect. Are you opening your doors to the homeless man on the corner? Come in, praise God with us, and let us feed your body and soul. Are you paying medical bills for the pregnant teenager in your youth group? More likely, the parishioners are gossiping about her behind her back and are looking down at her parents for raising a promiscuous daughter. It cannot be that your youth director chose not to discuss abstinence with the teenagers because some parents my get upset. No that’s not it.
As a church, Christians have to get out of that comfortable place where Sunday services feel safe and mundane. We need to be confrontational to the issues of our community. We have to get out there and touch people for Jesus. We have to feed the multitude, step in front of the stone throwers, wash dirty feet, and heal the hurting. We have to agree to change what we can and love everyone.
(Also published on Medium at https://medium.com/@loriogara)