Yesterday evening, Wednesday, I paused by the church prayer garden for a moment to offer thanks. Its details were already receding into the diminishing light, leaving splashes of color dotted against a hazy greenness. I took just a few moments, but my heart was full and I needed to let God know that I was grateful – that I am grateful.
I had just left one of the weekly men’s Bible-study groups I help to lead. There was nothing dramatically amazing about the evening, it was a fairly typical meeting; it’s not as if we crossed some new threshold either, or witnessed tongues of fire alighting on each head; I can’t even say anyone said anything so stunningly wise that I had to write it down for my next book.
Yet, taken as a whole, each shared reflection, thought, prayer-request, doubt, testimony of praise, difficult question, banter, contribution to the discussion, shared understanding, open heart, insight, concern, and witty repartee contributed to a complete experience that was holy, and I feel blessed all the way through to the core of my soul.
This week we were talking about “Christian Marriage.” Usually, we begin by going around the table with a “connect” question: “Imagine you have been invited to the Stumbling Disciples class as a panel of experts.” (the Stumbling Disciples are our Sunday morning group for younger parents) “The young dads want to tap your great wisdom and unique knowledge base as experienced married men. What would you say if you had just one piece of advice to offer, something you have learned that you wish you had understood when you were in your 30’s?”
I love these guys. I so appreciate their honesty and the way they not only struggle out loud but invite one-another into their hearts and souls.
I can’t share all the answers here; some were too personal and it wouldn’t be hard for people who know them to connect the dots. But here are a few:
- “If there’s a disagreement and I’m right it really isn’t important. What is important is listening and respect.”
- “Kindness is the most important thing we have in our husband toolbox. Kindness is seriously underrated and sadly underutilized.”
- “Never hide anything from your spouse. You can get through pretty much anything when you face it together, but dishonesty is very difficult to recover from. Do not break trust.”
- “When we do stuff together it’s beautiful when we encourage one another and lift each other up.”
- “You have to know when to be quiet. Sometimes you just have to shut up.”
- Then this: “I have found that groveling works really well!”
So we talked, and we shared, and we read some quotes from the book we’re reading, and then we prayed for each other.
Like I said, nothing dramatic. But the cumulative result was powerful – it always is. So I left that place, after all the deep one-on-one conversations that always keep us there another 20-30 minutes, filled with God, filled with grace, filled with these other men, filled with community, with Koinonia.
Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.”God created humanity in God’s own image,
in the divine image God created them,
male and female God created them. – Genesis 1