Faith is a very personal thing for me. The reasons that I love and married my wife are also a very personal thing for me. Yet, I would find it difficult to pinpoint irrefutable evidence for the countless reasons why I love my wife: Documentable, historical, testable, provable evidence in support of my “love” and “devotion”.
I guess I’ve become a little discouraged after taking on a project on the differences and similarities of Christian vs. Atheistic belief with a friend of mine; one who happens to be a skeptic and underwent what he called a deconversion from a rather conservative branch of the Church of Christ several years ago. Not discouraged regarding my own faith, but discouraged that, in my humble opinion, there is a lot of what I have always taken for granted to be the truth—even more so, the simplicity—of Christianity. Discouraged in that it can be difficult for me, as a journeyman wordsmith, to formulate a platform for my personal beliefs against a well-crafted, or at times well-entrenched, skeptical argument counter to those very same beliefs. How can I pinpoint irrefutable evidence for the myriad reasons why I love my Savior? Documentable, historical, testable, provable evidence in support of my “love” and “devotion”? Especially when most evidence is so unique to my experiences and so deeply personal?
The wholly inadequate answer is: I can’t. All I can do is tell my story. My story isn’t a science experiment. My story is a relationship; a relationship with a woman viewed through the lens of twenty-plus years of personal experiences.
My marriage has been a very positive one. I know many of our strengths as a couple, and I know many of the areas (though not all) where we could use some work. Everything that I read on relationships, on love, on marriage, everything, is filtered through that lens. The experiences of other couples are filtered through that lens. Romantic/comedy movies are filtered through that lens.
So when I see couples treat each other badly, it saddens me and sometimes pisses me off. When I see tabloid magazines trumpeting which celebrity is being cheated on, which one’s “hooking up”, which one’s getting a divorce, it turns my stomach. The overriding thought on all this is often, “It should not be this way.”
But what if my marriage wasn’t such a positive experience? What if I were a bitter divorcee that firmly believed all women are nothing more than (negative), (negative), and (expletive), and all they’re after is (negative), (negative), and (expletive). How easy would it be to see other couples treating each other badly and think, “See? Typical!” Or to read the tabloid headlines of celebrity relationships gone bad and root for their demise because it serves them right for trying to live in such an impossible, archaic institution?
My point, and I do have one, is that you can find encouragement and support for whatever mindset you bring into a relationship; whether that be a marriage, employment, familial, or religious. Positive or negative. And, you’ll find plenty of people to cheer you one within each sphere. The more you read, the more you learn, the more you experience, and the more peripheral encouragement you receive—down whatever road you’re traveling—the more entrenched in that mindset you will inevitably become.
The question I have is this: Was there ever really meant to be such thing as a “negative” relational experience? Are they inevitable? Or, are they a symptom that something was, or is, broken? Something that may be fixable rather than discarded?
I’d love your thoughts in the comment section below…