I've titled this post "The Sin Series" because I'm dealing a lot with sin in my life right now, and this post might just be the start of many more cases of rambling about it.
The fact that we in America don't have arranged marriages is both a blessing and a curse (gasp!). Ok, I'll explain what I mean...obviously I'm thankful that we get to "pick" our spouses because I really like the one I picked! But I think it has also taught us some bad habits. Like in dating for example... we see that as a "testing ground" for ultimately picking a mate...like taking a car on a test drive before you buy it. Understandable. BUT this system of dating and "marrying for love" combined with the Disney-infused concept of "falling in love" (as if love is something that just happens) and "just meeting the right person and sparks will fly" has created genuine confusion and therefore serious disappointment for a lot of people.
Why? Because sin is left out of the equation completely.
This is the reality...a relationship can only exist so long before sin enters the picture enough for both people to say, "wow, is this really working out?" I had three other boyfriends before getting married AND a couple of really close friendships and sin has been a problem in all of them. Whether it took a really visible form like disloyalty or lying-- or a more subtle form like selfishness or being controlling-- it definitely caused me to say, "I don't know if this is going to work out". So here is what our American-Disney way of thinking teaches us:
When sin (which we have no word for in our culture, b/c we don't like to define what is right and wrong) becomes a problem in a relationship, it means we just haven't found the right person yet, or we just aren't "right" for each other. So then we break up and find a new boyfriend/girlfriend to feel the sparks with, or find new friends (who won't be able to call us out on our "junk")...and it is only a matter of time before the cycle repeats itself!
But sin shows us that nobody is "right for each other" in the sense that there won't be conflict, there won't be selfishness, controlling behavior, dishonesty, disloyalty, etc. It teaches us that in every human relationship, conflict will come- and you either face it (your own "sin" included!) or you avoid it. You know the couple who never really handles conflict but stuffs it all under the rug? Or they blame it all on an external force ("it's this job, it's my in-laws, it's because my needs aren't being met")? Or the girl who doesn't ever keep a close friend because there's always a falling out that happens to be the "other person's" fault? Been there, done that.
We don't like sin. We don't like looking at our own or at others' junk, and it would be easier to believe "if I just meet the right person, things will work out and the sparks will fly, and I"ll feel warm and fuzzy forever". Well, I'm married to the "right" person and it's not always warm and fuzzy, and I've only been married three months!!-- I'm still in the "warm and fuzzy stage" of life!
Thankfully, sin is part of the equation, but it's not the SUM of the equation. (I'm terrible at math so don't expect this metaphor to actually make mathematical sense). There is a reason that we can acknowledge, look at, and face our sin- that reason is Christ. Because of Christ I can say "I'm not good enough, I'm not the right person, I'm not really capable of being a loving wife/friend/pastor...but there is someone who IS good enough, and He not only knows what I really am and has forgiven me, but He gives me the power to change when I go to Him as the only solution to sin and let Him change my heart." And in fact, when I avoid looking at my own heart to see my own junk, I'm not really honoring myself, those I'm in relationship with, or God.
Remember when your mom used to say, "sweetie, you have to let me see it so I can make it better"? Acknowledging our sin it's painful, uncomfortable, maybe embarrassing...(at least it is for me) but it's the only way we ever get better and can ever have true, lasting intimacy with God or others.