Lent and Valentine's Day
Warning: This post is mostly about marriage and directed toward the married… if you are not married then I apologize to you for this more specific post... I was thinking a few days about how it seems weird to me that Valentine’s day happens during lent – it just felt strange to have a mushy, happy holiday about romantic love happen during a season that is focused on repentance and sacrifice. But, then I started thinking more about it and realized that Lent is the perfect time for Valentine’s day.
Lent is about recognizing brokenness and sin in our lives and our world, but it’s also about repenting of brokenness or sin in our lives. Lent is about turning away from brokenness and turning toward wholeness. What better place to start that process of recognizing and naming sin in our lives and repenting and repairing brokenness then in the sacred sacrament of marriage? If our marriages are to be examples and witnesses of Christ’s relationship with the church then it should be essential that we repair brokenness in them quickly that it might not hinder our witness. If our marriages are to be examples of Christ’s relationship with the church then they should also be examples of the healing and wholeness that sacrificial love can bring.
But, there’s another reason as well that marriage seems to me like a good next step of focus for this Lenten journey through brokenness to wholeness… My husband knows my brokenness and sin better than anyone else – he lives in close proximity to it – he feels the effects of it every day. For "[marriage] is the merciless revealer, the great white searchlight turned on the darkest places of human nature" (Katherine Anne Porter). My husband deserves my apology and my repentance maybe more than any other human being. And since I also live in such close proximity to him and his brokenness, he deserves my forgiveness and grace first and foremost.
So, I decided to take this next week or so of lent to focus on my relationship with my husband. Not that I shouldn’t do this always, but maybe in this more focused season we can create some habits of love that will last throughout the year. After having looked in the mirror and looked at my own heart, it seems essential to me that my journey through lent would next lead me to beginning the process of mending any current brokenness or separating in the relationship that is closest to me. For me that is my relationship with my husband. Hopefully in focusing on my marriage relationship I will along the way mend areas of my life that have been separated or broken from God as well.
It seems clear to me that marriage is a sacred sacrament – a sacrament can be defined as a rite that serves as a means of grace and faith in our lives. So, I pray that this week especially God would use my marriage to mediate grace to me and my husband. It is clear to me that marriage is to be an example and witness of Christ’s sacrificial love for the church. So, I pray that this week especially Christ would show and teach my husband and I how to better live up to this high calling to show through the common marriage relationship the very uncommon, miraculous and mysterious relationship of Christ and his bride, the church. It seems clear to me that my husband needs my forgiveness and sacrificial love and I need his. So, I pray that this week especially the Holy Spirit would show us our sin, our brokenness, and our pride and would lead us to genuine repentance and a restored relationship with each other and with God.
Rejoicing in the journey - Beth Stedman
Photograph by Blake Stedman