Wednesday, 23 March 2011

In What Ways is Marriage Like a Garden?

Marriage and gardens both take constant attention and work. For some reason I became more aware this year of how much work goes into establishing and maintaining a garden. It started this spring when I attempted to plant a few rose bushes. After several swings with the pickaxe the whole was not much larger than a chicken nugget. Then there was the battle over the tomatoes that we planted. Fortunately my wife is smarter than the raccoon or we never would have had tomatoes. My wife spent hours throughout the spring and summer planting, deadheading, feeding and watering plants. We spent several man-days weeding. Obviously we get great enjoyment out of our garden or we would find better things to do with our time.

Marriage can be very much like gardening. We must weed and plant good seed in ground that is well prepared. Weeds come in all shapes and sizes, here are but a few marriage weeds:

o Selfishness. It is present in all of us because it is the DNA of sin. Perhaps there is nothing more destructive in marriage than this. It may well be the root of all the dumb and nasty little things we do to one another. Since none of us is sin free we all need to look for evidence of the DNA of selfishness shaping the way we think, desire, act, and respond in our marriages.

o Busyness. Marriage, too often, is what we do in between all the other things we are doing that really determine the content and pace of our schedules. But marriage doesn’t function very well as an in-between thing, and marriages surely don’t tend to thrive when we leave them alone and ask them to grow on their own. A marriage that is going to grow, change, and become increasingly healthy needs cultivation. Like a garden it doesn’t do well when it is being neglected.

o Inattention. Paul is deeply persuaded that many marriages get to an unhealthy place simply because they have been neglected. Sadly, many of us are better at responding to crisis than we are at working on prevention. It is too easy to take one another for granted.

o Self-righteousness. How active is your “inner lawyer” internally arguing in your defense, even as the other person is speaking? Have you tended to think that all the weeds in your marriage were brought in by your spouse?

The seeds we must plant are those that produce love. First Corinthians 13 identifies and describes those seeds. We will plant kindness and patience, a seed that is not self-seeking, a seed that keeps no record of wrongs and a seed that is not easily angered just to name a few. And what a beautiful, not to mention colorful marriage we can have.

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