Monday, October 19, 2009

The Best Present Ever!!!

Just before our second Valentine's Day since beginning to date, I had purchased Melissa a present that I was was ecstatic to give her. We had been dating for almost a year and a half and I wanted to show her how much I cared about her. I had put a lot of thought into what to get and did a little research so she was getting only the best.

The day before V-Day I could barely contain my excitement and begged her to allow me to give her the gift that evening. After some begging and my best impression of a puppy finally said yes. I ran up to my dorm room, grabbed the carefully rapped box and ran back down to the common room of my dorm where she awaited this amazing gift. She took the present and unwrapped it and I was excited to receive praise...

"You got me a Bible Commentary for Valentine's Day!?!?!?!? Did you not get any of the hints I had dropped about jewelry???"

This was not the reaction I had hoped for. A fight ensued about how insulted and offended I was versus how unromantic and stupid my gift was for Valentine's Day. I now can admit she was right...I bought her a necklace two days later but that night began an important lesson for both of us beyond thinking through gift choices.

There was actually a second reason why the gift of a Bible Commentary wasn't thought through enough beyond the obvious.

When it came to encouraging Melissa to grow deeper in her relationship with God I failed to consider the fact that possibly she didn't connect with God in the same way that I did. Up until that point in my life I had kind of put God in a box and had understood that connecting to God meant going to church once a week, spending devotional time reading your Bible every day along with a devotional or commentary to provide deeper insight, spending time in pray and then participating in a mid-week Bible study. This "formula" had worked for me in the past and again, I just assumed that was the way for everyone to connect with God.

When Melissa rejected my gift my first thought had been fear that, "I'm dating a girl who doesn't want to connect with God!?" Yet, that couldn't have been further from the truth. She insisted God was important to her but that instead of studying the Bible all the time she enjoyed connecting to God by taking a walk or painting. We spent the rest of the evening debating whether or not that "counted."

Shortly after that, I had to read a book called Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas that proved me wrong on both counts of that argument that evening. In the book, Thomas talked about that in a similar way that people have different personalities or learning styles we also relate to God differently. Take some time and look through all the different ways God connected to people throughout the Bible - a whisper, a booming voice from a mountain, a pillar of fire, a cloud, a hand writing on a wall, in dreams, in visions, in the flesh and blood of Jesus and more. All different but yet the same result...God drew people to Him.

We have to have a lot of open communication and flexibility about that time spent. It looks different every time and we have to always ask the other person what they are feeling and thinking. Sometimes we talk deeply about a Bible passage or sermon, which I prefer, and other times Melissa has been honest about her mood and feelings and we just read a passage and silently reflect.

Sometimes when we pray together Melissa would rather pray in her head instead of out loud. At first, I was offended by that but I needed to learn to just let that go and allow her to be her quiet, shy self. It isn't any less a prayer offered silently instead of out loud. The point is praying together. Who cares what that time looks or sounds like.

Don't put God in a box...connecting with Him can look so different to so many people. Whether you are single, dating or married, it is so important to take some time to understand how you connect best with God. (And that way may change over time...) But then, don't project that one way onto everyone else around you. Be open to how creative God is and how others may connect differently with Him.

Not only will doing this save you from some conflict or coming across as legalistic but it will also allow you to see God from different perspectives and take your understanding of Him and how He works to an even deeper level.

Jake

P.S. To check out Sacred Pathways, click on the image below to head to Amazon.com

4 comments:

  1. Hi Jake and Melissa,
    Marriage is a journey isn't it? Gifts. It took me awhile to learn to buy gifts that my hubby wanted and not gifts that I wanted for him. I still don't think we have that down, but after 28 years we're getting better.:) One thing we always love is to go out to our favorite restaurant together. And if we're lucky we go to a great movie. Gift giving is tricky and sometimes I think we should just give each other our time and forget the material gift, but that's probably not going to be real popular.:) Enjoy each other.

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  2. This is so inspiring to me. My boyfriend and I come from very different Christian backgrounds. I am charismatic, he is very conservative Lutheran. We both go to a church that we love, which is non-denominational. I struggle with the way he wants to approach God and it's because it's not at all how I was taught to approach Him. Thank you for offering your marriage insight into the beautiful world of relationships. I can rest assured my boyfriend is still connecting with God, it may just not be "my way."

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  3. Thanks Jake! I'm thinking of a special gift for my bride. I have a wild imagination and a more mystical relationship w/my God than my lady. What a joy to know she has her own (delightfully logical and devotional) way of knowing Him. I still need a good gift (thanks for the story, too--I SO would do that!)

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Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.