“Marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness of sins.” - Lao Tzu
Wednesdays are garbage days around the Luv house. That is a special day in our lives, as it is the day that Mrs. 4theluv and I get to review the evidence of our passive aggressive natures. You see, to ask Mrs. 4theluv, it is a constant and continual failing of mine that I don't take the garbage out of the house near as much as needed, nor near as much as Mrs. 4theluv desires.
Now understand, the right time to take the garbage out is the source of debate in many households, not just ours. I am sure many husbands face similar failures in their own lives. But that is only the beginning. See, I am a morally conscious individual. I believe that taking out the trash is not just the man's job, that just about anyone is capable of doing it. The skill set required to take out the garbage is fairly limited, and definitely not gender specific. And, being the politically correct and socially conscious individual that I am, I graciously allow Mrs. 4theluv ample opportunity to prove the equality of the sexes by taking out the trash. Its technically not rocket science. If you see it needs to be taken out, you pull the strings on the bag, and walk it the 40 or so feet to the big garbage can outside.
But Mrs. 4theluv takes an opposite position, at least when it comes to regularly taking out the trash. Now she will take it out on the days that she cleans the refrigerator, particularly if broccoli or some similar odoriferous content needs disposing. Then she will bag it, but set it just outside the door in the garage so that as I pass by it in the morning on my way to work I will carry it the other 30 feet and put in the can which is outside.
Normally, though, she just ignores the need to take out the trash (a trait which I allow to take place)and instead just keeps throwing things away in the garbage by balancing various rubbish on top of other rubbish, creating an almost Dada"esque" creation worthy of Kurt Schwitters. The balancing act is always very delicate, intentionally so, I think. She knows eventually I will take out the trash, and that trash sculpture will crumble like a house of cards.
So, come Wednesday morning, as I am trying to get out the door for work, I will always remember the trash has to go out. I will turn to our leaning tower of refuse that is our main garbage area and try to bag it. Of course, looking around, Mrs. 4theluv is nowhere to be found, but as things scatter on the floor I am certain a smirk crosses her face, as she has once again shown her superiority in this game of oneupmanship (oneupwomanship? oneuppersonship?).
So I get the garbage out, saying a few words I probably shouldn't, and spend the rest of the day feeling like the loser that I am. And, like Lucy pulling the football from Charlie Brown, Mrs. 4theluv gets to enjoy the rest of the day knowing she got me one more time. I wish I would at least get a "thank you" but I am sure that would spoil the fun.
As I reflected on the battle this morning, I began to sense the frustration that Christ must feel with me, with the sin that so easily entangles me, and my refusal AND inability to take it out. And I began to sense that Christ does what he does with me, not for the "thank you", and not out of a sense of waiting to see if I will do it myself, but rather because he loves me, and gave himself for me.
Paul reminded us well. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. [ ... ]Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, (Eph. 5:1-2; 25-26)
I can't get out of mind today how it is that Christ puts up with and carries out my garbage that I pile up for Him. He taught us so many lessons about true love. Forgiveness is an act of love. Service is an act of love. He does it simply because He loves me, and for no other reason. And it is that same love that he calls me to love my wife.
Like many men in our church, I married waaay up. And in that relationship, like every other relationship I am in, like parent, son, sibling, friend, co-worker, I fail consistently. But with relationships built on love, forgiveness is a routine part. And for that, I am the luckiest man alive.
I have received that forgiveness from so many in my life, perhaps I should return that same love. Perhaps I can learn something from the battle of the garbage.