Your marriage is a message

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A chap called Lewis Smedes once said that our greatest task is to live “the sort of life that makes people say, Ah, so that’s how people are going to live when righteousness takes over our world.”

These days we might say right-living, or uprightness instead of righteousness. I like to think of it as that sort of godly goodness that leads to a flourishing of relationships and of community. Would any of us – especially us self-deprecating Brits – dare to stick our necks out and lift up our own lives as the type that make others take notice? It does seem rather presumptuous, but bear with me.

When we were living in Mozambique, our community was a rural one. Like our neighbours, we had built our own home using traditional wattle and daub. Our team mates, working with us in the community development project we were part of, had a home right next door. Instead of glass in our simple window frames, we had wire mesh to protect us from the ferocious mosquitos and other less harmful but equally irritating bugs. 

The lack of glass meant that sound travelled. (Not the sort of place you wanted to have a full-blown row with your spouse, let me tell you!) In addition, much of life took place outdoors, under the shade of the trees in the garden, or around the well. And of course, being the only caucasians in town, we were of great interest to the local gossip mill!

One July, our team mates were travelling overseas for the entire month. Not wanting their house to remain empty, they asked a local couple to housesit for them. Carlos and Celina gladly moved in and became our neighbours for the month. We enjoyed chatting with them over cool drinks under the trees, every so often we happened to be hanging out freshly washed laundry at the same time and a couple of times they came over to eat supper with us. The rest of the time, we got on with our everyday lives and didn’t give our new neighbours much thought. 

As it turns out, those very ordinary moments can be the ones that define us.

Some time after Carlos and Celina had returned to their own home, we heard through the grapevine that living next door to us had made a lasting impression on them. “You won’t believe it!” they had relayed to their friends, “Tim gets up in the morning and heats water for his wife to bathe! And while she is still in bed, he takes her a cup of tea!” (I hate to think how they knew I was actually in bed, but still.)

In a culture where the women are the ones who serve the men, Tim’s small acts of everyday kindness sent a radical message about what marriage could be like. Carlos later claimed that this small but far-reaching revelation had changed how he related to Celina, his young wife. Our lives were on display and sending out a message to the people around us, whether we recognised it or not.

Back to the West, then, and our more solid homes where the windows are double-glazed and the curtains amply lined! It is easy for us to think that our more private lives mean that the way we choose to live makes little impact on those around us.

Don’t kid yourself.

Your verbal exchange in the queue at the supermarket? The way you call out to your wife as she parks the car on the driveway? The way you look at one another across the table in the restaurant? All of these give a message to the people around you. And it’s about more than being liked by your neighbours, or being thought well of by your community. 

Your marriage is not just for you; it’s not even just for you, your spouse and your kids. This might be a new thought, but honestly … the choices you make in your most ordinary moments are an opportunity to give hope to a watching world that so desperately needs to believe in a better tomorrow.

And we each get to be part of that, if we will.

Take a moment to think about your marriage in light of the message it sends to those ‘invisible observers’ all around you. What kind of message do you want that to be? You (yes, you!) can be a person of influence just by living your ordinary life in an extraordinary way.

One Response to Your marriage is a message

  1. Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for your provided information.

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