Discernment in Marriage

We met Bob on our family vacation living next door to our house rental. We invited him over for coffee one morning, and he told us about his sixty years of life before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He mentioned how his wife left him after five years of marriage because he wouldn’t change. As he retold the succession of women that came after her, he said, “Yea, they all tried to change me, but I would never let them.”

And here we have the age-old paradigm of a spouse not wanting to change, and the other partner trying desperately to change them. Listening to Bob’s life story helped me reflect on the two most important factors that both spouses need to keep in tension: change and acceptance. Typically, we see these two camps divided. Either we must unconditionally accept everything about the other person, or we can’t accept anything about them and it becomes our mission to conform them to our own image. But really, neither has to be exclusively true. In my own marriage, I’ve learned it’s best to keep these two sides running parallel to each other and asking God for discernment and wisdom to know when to employ each one.

Bob had his heels dug into the ground and wouldn’t move. He was not letting marriage change him. But we must go into marriage expecting and desiring to be changed. God uses it as a means for holiness in our lives. Both husband and wife must listen to each other and always consider (even seek out) the other’s viewpoint and advice. When we seek ways to grow and change for the glory of God and the good of another, our marriage will prosper.

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Finding Home In Exile

By Katie Tumino

Cacophony and Euphony. Sounds like a pairing of a bad cough and an insult on someone’s legitimacy. If you are unfamiliar with these words, may I give you a brief English lesson? I promise it will be brief:

Cacophony = harsh and unharmonious sounds; the word “cacophony” itself is very harsh sounding. In writing, it is used to describe any harsh, sharp, hissing, negatively associated words or phrases – ex) puss

Euphony = pleasant and harmonious sounds; euphony comes from the same root as “euphoria.” In writing, it is used to describe fluid, melodic, soothing, positively-associated words or phrases – ex) delectable

Now that wasn’t too painful, was it? I was sitting in my eleventh grade English class on a gloomy fall day when I remember learning those words. My family had just moved across country for the first time for my dad’s job. These circumstances paired with the raging hormones of a sixteen year old resulted in a mindset that believed my world was falling apart. No friends. No understanding. Nothing familiar. Anger. Feelings of exile. In my class notes, I wrote “exile” as my example for cacophony and “home” as my example for euphony.

The word “home” quickly became an idol for me. Its allure was all-consuming. Now by “home,” I don’t just mean the four walled structure of my childhood upbringing. I mean the connotations associated with it – comfort, acceptance, love, and belonging. The comfort my family brought me was not enough. I needed more – more acceptance from friends, more attention from boys, more belonging for the skills I had to offer. Thankfully, the Lord intervened, washing out these “homes” built on sand (Matt. 7:24-27) to reveal the true foundation on which to build my “home.” Such verses as the following became an instant comfort to me:

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1

“Now go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” – Genesis 12:1

“And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more.” – 2 Samuel 7:10

I found application and relatability in Scripture in a whole new way when I realized how much of a theme exile/home was throughout – literally for the people of Israel, figuratively for God’s people brought “home” to God through salvation in Jesus Christ. Both resonated deeply within me. And I have found comfort in that theme and the promise of “home” time and time again when I have continued to feel “exiled.” Beyond the physical exile of moving (or even feeling stuck in your hometown), there is emotional exile as well. Maybe you feel exiled by your relationship status – single, dating, married – separating you from those around you in different seasons. Maybe you feel exiled by your own body not functioning the way it should. Maybe you feel exiled being home all day with the kids, or maybe the dream career you have desired for so long is going nowhere. Whether it’s physical, relational, emotional, occupational, or everything combined, we all have felt exiled in some way, and we all long to feel at “home.” But what if exile is not the cacophonous word we believe it is? What if I told you exile can be a blessing?

I recently began re-reading my Bible from the very beginning in Genesis, and God’s words after the fall struck me in a new way.

“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”  therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” – Genesis 3:22-25 (emphasis my own)

Did you catch that? God showed mercy and protection to Adam and Eve by exiling them from the garden. In some ways their exile was a consequence, but in other ways it was a sparing. We all know how eating of one tree to be more like God was a detrimental mistake, so to prevent a second damning mistake, he turned Adam and Eve out of the garden, out of temptation’s way. Because of exile, we are not condemned to an eternal home in this fallen world. Praise God! Exile from the perfect place on earth was, in the end, a blessing. This paved the way for the rest of history to unfold where God held the ultimate homecoming by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that our sins would be forgiven and we might truly find the perfect place to make our eternal home: his presence in heaven.

When we continue to feel exiled on this earth by relationships, locations, careers, and school, take heart that exile can in fact be a blessing, a mercy, and a protection from building your home on sand. Exile keeps us restless to find home.

Katie Tumino is a recent college graduate with a B.A. in English from Gardner-Webb University. She now resides in Akron, OH with her husband Chad.  You can follow her writing at thenextthreefeet.wordpress.com