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November 18, 2014 / danaemckee

A Good and Perfect Love Story, Chapter 19 – Over Again? Greetings with Kisses

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The first counseling appointment with our pastor, Bob Kauflin, was on November 22 that year.  Roger did come along, though he’d promised he wouldn’t. The bottom line of the counsel was – “Read the Bible and do what it says.” When we walked into the office, busy Bob told us,

“Other counselors will tell you, ‘It took you years to get this messed up, it will take years to unravel everything…’, but I don’t have years. I have four weeks.”

Wow. Ok, we had better pay attention.

Where Bob started was with me! He began confronting, specifically, my anger. I wanted to deflect that focus –

“Hey, I am not the one who was throwing the kids around!”…

But there was that sense, that awareness again, like I’d had when listening to counselor Bill Denny thirteen or fourteen years earlier – this was God’s word; this was His rescue cable thrown to me. I drop it at my own peril… So I sat there and listened. I found out later that Bob was following the biblical model of addressing the one under authority first, then the one in authority. (See Ephesians 5:22-33)

I hated what was revealed when Bob started kicking around in the ash heap of my heart. There definitely was a lurking anger. I had been sowing at least as much discord into our home as Roger was. Here, I thought of myself as the holy, righteous, put-upon, godly one…

“If only Roger, or the kids, (or whoever) could get it together, we’d be fine.”

Not true. And, now that I could see it, it was truly unbelievable that I had not seen it before. I had been groping, fuming, stumbling like someone born with no senses… Blinded, deafened by my own sin. The anger in me was doing huge damage to Roger and to the kids still at home. And to Ginger and Ben – grown and out on their own… When I’d let my anger or theirs stymie our relationship, I’d failed. Instead of finding a place of peace for our home, I’d perceived myself as a victim, but not a quiet victim, a defensive, angry one. Wow. Devastating. It was not fun. I repented and prayed to turn from that sin of anger.

I began to learn then that if and when I ever see my own sin, it is the grace of God working in me. I do not remember much of the particulars of Bob’s words to me; the gist is stamped indelibly on my mind, though. I had a big responsibility to set the tone in our home. I had been setting it, all right; not in a good way… One assignment Bob gave was to write out ten things we liked about our spouse before we met again. I remember staring at the blank page, not coming up with anything… I must have eventually thought of some positive attributes to describe my husband; I am too much of a people-pleasing “A” student to head back to class without my homework finished…

The next week was Roger’s turn. I do not remember details of that counseling session either, only that I did feel a little like he was getting off scott-free in comparison to the grilling I’d had. But I was starting to trust the Lord again that change would come. God had done it before; He could bring life and hope again. It might have been this second week that our homework assignment was to read the epistle of First Peter. Read all five chapters every day. Read the Bible and do what it says. I did not read it every day, but I read it through two or three times that week. The directive to wives in this book in Chapter three follows instructions to servants in chapter two and begins, “Likewise…”

(Wives “likewise?”… the same as servants?!… Nice. I don’t think I like that Mr. Paul…)

I read and reread. There was that part in chapter three that talks about suffering for righteousness’ sake… “That’s me,” I thought. “That’s me!…” Wait, no… The next verse goes on: “…always being prepared to make a defense… yet do it with gentleness and respect…” I didn’t think Roger of any of my kids would describe me very often as “gentle” or “respectful”… Oh, sigh… Lord Jesus, help…

The part that turned our marriage around was the sign-off Peter uses in his first letter to the churches. The last verse says,

“Greet one another with the kiss of love…”

It struck me like the chime of a church bell! I was to greet Roger. I had not been doing that. Obviously. I barely grunted when he came home. But if folks at some church were to greet each other there, greet with a KISS… Ok – read the Bible and do what it says.

I treated this like a recipe. I heard him coming in the door. Rise. Go to him. Speak (sound natural!…)

“Hi, Roger.”  Smack (kiss).

It was not a real heart-felt thing… But it was one of those small obediences to God that He took and turned into something He could use. This simple exercise got us off the treadmill of boring sameness and tiresomeness, and out of the dusty rut of “I already know everything about how you are/you-will-never-change” hopelessness… We began to love one another. We had a marriage!

It was no longer a barely joint endeavor, but something that began to be lovely and safe. Roger responded and softened toward me immediately; he didn’t know or notice that I was doing an experiment, a “recipe”.  Very soon were on the same side! Anger was retreating. Comparing ourselves among ourselves was seldom a trap anymore. Bob was right; it only took four weeks, maybe less! I’d never have believed it if I had not lived it. God is fabulous and amazing. He is awesome!

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