Last week I learned a respected author and leader has chosen to separate from her husband after a brave and long battle for their marriage. Ben and I were on our way home from a marriage event and bickering about how to discipline our threenager when I read the news. My heart sank and I found it hard to find my breath, not because she is a friend but because sin is so painful and I ache for her, her family, and the journey she is on.
Isn’t it interesting how when you hear about someone else’s life is coming to a crashing halt you vow to be different? We promise up and down to see what we have and appreciate the glory in our midst. It seems we are so committed to change and discipline when we are staring down some else’s reality. When it costs us nothing but empty words we promise to be the exception. We are so eager to know just how to be different instead of embracing where we are all the same.
Adultery isn’t new, sin isn’t new, and we’ve all felt sins shattering effects even if we’ve called it by a different name. Yet somehow when it comes across our peripheral vision we see it so much clearer. When it is someone else’s life we are ready to eradicate it. However when it’s our own lives we make exceptions, break a few rules, promise it will be the last time, and before we know it we are the story people are telling over beers and making vows to be different from. We must stop acting like sin is a poisonous spider we didn’t know existed. The spider is already around house sleeping under your roof, in your life, heart and mind. Don’t pretend you’re above it, crush it. See it for the dangerous beast that it is and don’t coddle it with the idea that it won’t bite you.
Life change doesn’t happen because you hear a story that saddens you, life change happens when you see yourself in the story. Change happens when it becomes your kids, your marriage, your finances, and your reality. Not just because you want to be different but because you know you could take the same bait. My marriage isn’t bullet proof, its awaiting fire, and part of protecting it is knowing that. Christian or non christian, marriage is hard, blood, sweat, and tears type of work.
I remember when I was in elementary school after hearing my grandparents were divorcing because of my grandfathers affair sitting in the bath tub and thinking how real life seemed harder than I expected. I fight for my marriage not just because I don’t want to cheat or get divorced but because I know I could. We are all ten steps away from being exactly where we said we would never be and it’s foolish to believe any different. I’m not naïve enough to think I’m above sin, I just trust God enough to believe he gave me a way out. (1 John 1:9) By humbly confessing that I need every ounce of his power to deny every selfish and sinful desire that comes my way. From the little to the big, sin isn’t a spider I’ll hold.
In reality we will all feel the collateral damage of sin no matter how much we protect our life. It will ricochet off someone else’s life and clip you at the knees. However, I believe it gives us the opportunity to limp into the nearest church with our wounds bared and help another in pain. Christian culture should be the easiest place to talk about our sin, our hurt, and our shame. Let’s make it our common ground, “welcome to the broken, messed up world, let’s talk about how sin has wrecked us and a God who can mend us.” Let’s change things but pouring light into the dark spaces of our life. Let’s shine a flashlight on the spider and see all we need is a really big shoe to get our life back.
You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.