This - in italics - is the closing paragraph of today's post. But you have to read the entire page to see how I got there - DEREK
"Hi, we're Derek and Rebekah Maul; we are a work in progress! We're a living testimony to the interactive nature of love and commitment, and God's purposes, and the imperative to respond. We're enjoying a redeemed relationship. That means that we've struggled and worked hard and renovated (we still do/are/will), and we've come out with more commitment, more joy, and more love. We're passionate about our evolving love, and we're faithful to the promise of what a great relationship can be."
Thirty-three years ago today, Rebekah and I went out on our first date. I walked to her dorm and we headed over to that evening's basketball game with a group of other Stetson students.
She tells me the evening wasn't a bomb - but she wasn't that impressed either! And I say it just felt natural. No fireworks, bells, or whistles on that occasion (but we didn't have to wait long!), just the beginning of a deep and abiding friendship. Fact is, I knew from the outset that Rebekah was going to be my very best friend ever - and it turned out to be true in every sense - everything else is gravy....
So, of course, being the live-out-loud and celebrate-everything kind of people that we are (or at least try to be), Rebekah and I always remember Feb 4. We don't spend lots of money or lobby for a national holiday, but we do make sure the day receives proper recognition.
So this morning I had a vase full of fresh tulips ready to bring in to Rebekah along with her coffee, and I found just the right card, and I filled it with just the right words. Rebekah had a new coffee mug for me and a really cool card. It is enough to know that we remember with joy.
And there is so much that is cause for celebration.
Last night at my men's group (and, yes, this relevant to the above discussion!) we talked about how we tend to define ourselves in terms of what we do (or have done). "Hi, I'm a writer; I taught school for a couple of decades and I've published three books..." "Hi, I'm an engineer; I hold three patents and I built the bridge over..." "I'm a football player." "I built three subdivisions." "I won these awards for my work..."
But God - the Bible says many times over and in many ways - is more interested in the person inside than the outward appearance. God is less interested in what we've done than in who we are. Of course there's a very real sense in which who we are contributes to and shapes what we do - but what we accomplish is not the best way to define ourselves; the best way is to introduce ourselves by saying who we are.
So we practiced! One exercise involved introducing ourselves to one-another, pretending the others knew nothing about us, and then simply saying who it is that we are. No accomplishment references allowed. Believe me, for a group of North American males, that's no walk in the park! But eventually we got there. They said things such as:
- I'm a dad, sometimes I'm a good one
- I'm trustworthy - you always know where you stand with me
- I'm someone who tries really hard - sometimes that's a problem in my relationships
- I'm faithful to what I believe, and I'm passionate about what I do
- I know that without God I have nothing to boast about, I am a child of God...
There was some powerful conversation around the table when we started to talk about who we are rather than what we have done.
So today I'm wondering about the definition of our relationship? How would we introduce ourselves, Derek and Rebekah, after 33 years?
- "Hi, we're Derek and Rebekah Maul; we are a work in progress! We're a living testimony to the interactive nature of love and commitment, and God's purposes, and the imperative to respond. We're enjoying a redeemed relationship. That means that we've struggled and worked hard and renovated (we still do/are/will), and we've come out with more commitment, more joy, and more love. We're passionate about our evolving love, and we're faithful to the promise of what a great relationship can be."