Thursday, September 24, 2009

Letter from John Eldredge

We've been on the mailing list for Ransomed Heart ministries since we attended the "Fathered by God" talk back in May. I really wanted to share September's letter with you because it is refreshingly honest. John's take on marriage being about personal transformation is so on point, and so exactly what I needed to hear right about now.
(And he compares marriage to throwing a dog and cat in the dryer. HA!) I will add one thing, I have found the joy of marriage to be deep and profound, unlike anything else, but it takes hard work to get there (& stay there) and that's what resonated for me in what John wrote. Hope you enjoy (it's really worth reading the entire thing!)...

September 2009

Dear Friends,

Just this morning Stasi and I were talking about marriages we know, and we came to a pretty sobering realization - we can't name one marriage that hasn't been through deep waters in the last three years. Not one. And we know a lot of people, and a lot of marriages. You'd think we'd be able to point to some couple who is trouble free. We can't find one. Not one. Every single marriage we know is either currently struggling, or they've just passed through some major struggle, or they've thrown in the towel. What's with that?

Is it just a bad time to be married, like the 90's were a bad time to live in Rwanda? Is it a bad time for marriage generally, like last fall was a bad time to be in the stock market? Or, maybe it's something else. Maybe there's something about marriage, something inherent to it, that we'd all do well to go ahead and admit, face head-on, come to terms with. Marriage is fabulously hard.

Everybody who's been married knows this. Though years into marriage it still catches us off guard, all of us. And newly married couples, when they discover how hard it is, they seem genuinely surprised. Shocked, and disheartened by the fact. Are we doing something wrong? Did I marry the right person? The sirens that lure us into marriage-romance, love, passion, sex, longing, companionship - they seem so far from the actual reality of married life we fear we've made a colossal mistake, caught the wrong bus, missed our flight. And so the hardness also comes as something of an embarrassment (don't you feel embarrassed to admit how hard your marriage is?). Maybe it's just us.

Nope. This is everyone. We might as well come out and say it.

The sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we'll find our way through. Of course marriage is hard. For heaven's sake, bring together a man and a woman - two creatures who think, act and feel so differently you'd think they'd come from separate solar systems - and ask them to get along for the rest of their lives under the same roof. That's like taking Cinderella and Huck Finn, tossing them in a submarine and closing the hatch; What did you think would happen?

When it comes to high-level expeditions, one piece of advice that veterans unanimously urge is this:
"Choose your tent mate carefully." For you are going to spend weeks to months on end shut-in by foul weather in the forced intimacy of a tiny fabric cocoon with this person. By the time it's over everything about them will drive you mad - the way they eat, the way they breathe, the way they hum show tunes or pick their nails. To keep yourselves from a Donnor party ending, you must start with people your are utterly compatible with.

God does the opposite - he puts us with our opposite. Our mutual brokenness plays off of each other so perfectly it's frightening. It's like throwing a dog and a cat in a dryer. Is he absolutely mad? Why would God do such a thing?

Because marriage is a divine conspiracy. It is a conspiracy divinely arranged and with divine intent. God lures us into marriage through love and sex and loneliness, or simply the fact that someone finally paid attention - all those reasons that you got married in the first place. It doesn't really matter, he'll do whatever it takes. He lures us into marriage and then he uses it to transform us.

Come back to the fairy tales - in everyone of those stories, the boy and the girl each carry a fatal flaw. If they refuse their transformation - which is essential to the plot of the story - they'll never make it. Evil will win, they will lose heart and split up, and there will be no happily ever after. Beauty and the Beast, The Horse and His Boy, The Golden Key - in every one of those stories, happily ever after waits upon a peculiar turn of events, at the center of which is their transformation.

We all have a style of relating, we have a way that we do life. Our carefully crafted approach colors the way we work, the way we love, the way we handle stress and the way we look for life. Our style is borne out of brokenness and sin, and it is the number one thing that gets in the way of real love and companionship, the shared adventure and all the beauty of marriage. It's really this simple - the number one thing that gets in the way is your way. And we have absolutely no intention of giving it up. Not even to love. So God creates an environment where we have to. It's called marriage.

Now listen carefully - God wants us to be happy. He really does. He simply knows that until we deal with our brokenness, our sin, and our style of relating, we aren't going to be happy. Nobody around us is going to be very happy, either. Most of what you've been experiencing in the last twelve-months is God's attempt to get you to face your style of relating, and repent of it.

This is the old Christian understanding of the world, the understanding that happiness is the fruit of other things, chief among them our own holiness, and so we must undergo a transformation. Just like the fairy tales, we must share in God's holiness before the story is finished. This flies in the face of the more popular view of the world that's crept in recently - the happiness view. This is the idea that frames most people's expectations of marriage (and everything else) - the view that we're here for our happiness and so you'd better make me happy. It comes as quite a disruption when we begin to realize that God might have other things in mind!

But once we accept the plot of the conspiracy - our transformation - then we can get on with cooperating with God, and that opens the door to all sorts of good things.

This is an excerpt from the book Stasi and I just finished on marriage, entitled Love and War. It comes out at the end of the year. But we thought we might begin sharing some of it with you now. We think everyone - married and single - will find the themes true and helpful.

Thanks for all your love, prayers and support!! We couldn't do this without you!




Kathie said...

Almost can't decide whether to be encouraged or discouraged, but I do agree with him that marriage is about transformation.

Reading this came at an interesting time for me. Thanks for sharing, and I'll be pondering.

Rhonda said...

Thanks for sharing.
Makes me want to read Love and War

Jessica said...

Cool post, thanks for sharing :)

Christy said...

I would say this TOTALLY encourages me because for one couples in the church are NOT talking about their struggles and raising up the newly married younger couples. We watch time and time again couples keep it all in and fall apart and then God never gets a chance to raise them up and use them in that instance. It encrouages me to be real and be honest and love on other couples when I see they are hurting cause guess what? We have all been there or are smack in the middle of it. :)

scrn2go said...

Every man should read "Wild at Heart" and every woman should read "Captivating" by the Eldridges whether they are married or not...especially if they are not married, and especially if they are. Each gets at and explains to each their own heart and that of the other as no book ever has, or, I expect, ever will.

If you are married, Love and War will be a critical read for the life of your lives together. John and Stasi have invested themselves as no other two have in opening up the minds and hearts of men and women to each other so that they can see themselves as God sees them...his children...loved, cherished, and meant to be together as one.

Is marriage a fairy tale? No. But it is God ordained and worth every moment of the battle if He is in charge and we know the enemy. And that, my friends is what John and Stasi teach best.

Eileen said...


scrn2go said...

PS After 42 years of marriage, I hope I can speak with some authority, as well as encouragement. Marriage is really, really hard WORK!! AND IT"S WORTH THE EFFORT!!

We have laughed way, way more than we've cried, but we have cried, together and alone, though I can only speak for myself on the crying part. But we took our vows VERY seriously those many years ago, and it does just keep getting better each time we dig deeper...because we want more...we want the best God has to give us!

Feel free to contact us

Allyson Hill said...

I love this!!! So much!!!

Allyson Hill said...

I just ordered the two books suggested by previous commenter "Wild at Heart" and "Captivating" (through Thanks for the suggestions!