By DiAne Gates, Crosswalk.com
The familiar lyrics of my phone interrupted the quiet midnight hour. Groggy and fumbling for my glasses, I glanced at the screen. Anxiety ripped my soul. Midnight calls always meant trouble, and this was no exception.
My daughter’s sobs interrupted my hello. “I’m coming ho… hooome,” she wailed.
A similar incident with my mother, years in the past, raced through my mind and caused me to plead, Lord please help me. Give me words.
“Sweetheart, you are home.” My words flowed calm, much calmer than I felt; they even surprised me.
“Nooooo,” she sobbed. “You don’t understand; I’m coming hooome.” More tears and nose-blowing noise.
“No, sweetheart, you don’t understand. You are home. This is not your home anymore. Your home is with your husband.”
Like water turns to ice—but much, much faster—her tears turned to belches of burning anger. “Well! If that’s the way you feel, good-bye.”
Old telephones always gave a resounding thunderclap in the hearer’s ears when slammed into their cradle. Thank you Lord for cell phones, but silence screamed in my ears.
I knew my daughter. I knew about newlywed spats, disagreements, or anything that disturbed their bliss. I also knew history repeated itself. My mom listened to the soot of my angry swipes in the early days of our marriage and comforted this baby girl, while reminding me of all the reasons I shouldn’t have married him. Husband and I made up a few hours later, but like an elephant, my mother never forgot. And she nursed her grudge.
I determined I would not repeat that mistake.
The phone rang 10 minutes later and my son-in-law said, “Mom, she left and I think she’s headed for Crandall. I’m sorry. Please let me know when she arrives.”
My daughter’s temper always had a rapid vanishing point, and her quick mind knew when her bluff had been called. I offered, “I doubt she’s on her way here. My bet is she’s sitting around the corner wondering how to save face and return home.” I asked him to let me know when she returned.
Less than 20 minutes later the phone rang. Even before I said hello, I heard her shouts, and son-in-law whispered, “She’s home, Mom.”
“Night, sweetheart. Thanks for letting me know she’s safe.”
You see, moms have this elephant-memory; coupled with our mama lion’s protectiveness toward our cubs comes a recipe for disastrous family relations if you injure the child we carried next to our heart. Sometimes forever. So don’t run to mama at the first sign of stranger danger. He’s your husband—not a stranger!
God’s Word instructs we are to leave and cleave. Rodale’s Synonym Finder defines cleave: stick, cling, clasp, cohere, joined. But what does the Hebrew word “cleave” mean? Adhere. Overtake. Stick. (The Hebrew word is “dabaq” the noun form meaning glue.)
“Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 NAS).
Girls, and this applies to guys too, when you stand before the preacher with this handsome hunk or beautiful angel you’re pledging to love and cherish, you are entering into a three-way covenant with God and your husband or wife. And in Ecclesiastes 4:12(b) God says:
“A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”
Moms, girlfriends, and sisters are no lasting help in these times of adjustment and commitment. You need a father—Your Eternal Father with whom you made this covenant. A Father who created you, knows you, and desires the best for you. He is all might. All power. And is sovereign over all things. Especially marital problems.
When I came to truly understand this three-way covenant I entered and recognized my inability to control and make my dreams come true—or in other words, came to the end of myself—I cried out to my Father in Heaven. And this all-powerful God began major remodeling in my life and in the life of my husband as He “dabaq”… glued us together.
Now here’s a little secret from this old lady who just celebrated her 40th anniversary with the man of her dreams—sometimes he’s not nice. Sometimes he hurts my feelings. And sometimes I just need someone, a safe someone, to vent my frustrations and hurts. The third person in our marriage covenant is a trustworthy partner who never divulges confidence. He never tells me I’m stupid for feeling whatever I’m experiencing. No, He listens, wraps me in His arms of comfort until whatever storm I’m experiencing passes, and if I’m the one in need of correction, He gently reproves and helps me recognize and accomplish His goals for our lives.
And I’m betting my husband has that same intimate privilege with the Father… because word has it I’m not always easy to live with either. And I’m betting neither are you.
When I was a child, my Mama could fix anything. But as I became a woman, God instructed me to “put away childish things.” Mama couldn’t fix me anymore, but God can and does—when I trust Him. When I obey Him. And when I gossip all our problems to others, I’m not showing the respect and love for my husband God commands.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:18-20 NKJV).
God’s Word is the ultimate marriage manual. He tells us:
“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:26-27 NAS).
My folks used to hold grudge fests. You know, those angry exchanges that lasted for days. My brother and I knew when to fly low and slow at home. When Mama and Daddy would sit in silence until one would ask, “Tell your mother to pass the sugar, please.” Yikes. Hostility hung in the air.
And Daddy boasted, “We’d rather fight than switch.” Sigh. And for over 50 years fight they did.
But it doesn’t matter what kind of raising you’ve endured; there’s no time like today to decide to follow the model God sets for us in the pages of His Word. You don’t have to keep traveling down the same rough road.
We marry in the heat of emotions, but a true covenant marriage develops and grows into a lasting relationship. A relationship that gratifies the covenant partners, produces healthy children, and most of all, glorifies God.
DiAne Gates illustrates and writes fiction for children and YA, and serious non-fiction for the folks. Her passion is calling the church’s attention to how far we’ve catapulted from God’s order as evidenced by her blog Moving the Ancient Boundaries. DiAne worked as a photographer and writer for the East Texas Youth Rodeo Association magazine, and had the opportunity to be in the rodeo arena, giving birth to her western rodeo adventure series, ROPED, available on Amazon. The sequel, TWISTED, will be released by Prism in early 2017. She also facilitates GriefShare, an international support ministry for those who’ve lost loved ones.
Publication date: October 17, 2016
Photo credit: © Getty Images/fizkes