The Metaphor and Blood-and-Guts Reality

 

For the last nine months I’ve been wrestling over the question, “If marriage never happens for me, will I be okay?

And the answer varies day-to-day, I’ll be honest. But it struck me the other morning in a big way. I was lamenting the fact that I may never experience that kind of intimacy and then a new thought emerged. Maybe I was very wrong.

We seem forget that marriage is just the metaphor, reflecting a larger, universal reality.

Marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ and his Church. But somewhere along the line, marriage became the reality—the concrete realness of things.

But marriage has become less permanent and the pretty picture seems to be fading, and here’s the problem with that:

Marriage is just the picture. It was never intended to be what Christ and his bride reflect. It is instead the reflection, the lesser figuration of something greater—something blood-and-guts real.

I experience a beautiful relationship daily, if I agree to enter into the fray and the messiness. I experience the heartache of surrender—of not getting my way, of discovering I’m wrong, of giving up my own dreams for the dreams of another. I experience that other giving himself up for my sake—sometimes with intensity, sometimes with a distance I try to manifest.

I walk the tension of trying to do an unbroken thing despite my unavoidable brokenness. I know the pain of having the one who claims to love me most let me walk through more darkness than I thought possible. I experience the shame and yet overwhelming joy of sitting beside the one I’ve hurt so deeply and having him still look me in the eye and not look away—to extend mercy.

There has been an undying commitment made to me—one with no escape hatch. And despite the temptations to fulfill my needs elsewhere, I have committed to staying.

For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. As long as I live until death do we finally meet face-to-face.

I have never been married, yet I have experienced all of this.

Because marriage is only the metaphor. The real, ironically concrete, flesh-and-bone, blood-and-guts, no-way-out kind of relationship so many of us crave—within marriage or without— is that between Christ and his Church.

I don’t need a husband to experience the challenge and growth of intimate, lock-the-door-and-throw-away-the-key kind of commitment. That was given to me upon the cross just as it has been extended to you.

So we can rest assured that what hasn’t been granted us in marriage—or what we perhaps feel our marriage is lacking—is still ours. It’s ours in relationship with Christ.

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