The following is a blog I wrote on the Ransomed Heart website awhile back; I just didn’t copy it here. However, they’re giving away free books to those who blog about it, and if this blog is referenced for future giveaways, far be it from me to stop anyone. 🙂 This is my review of the Eldredge’s latest book, Love and War. A good read, and in short, the premarital counseling my husband and I didn’t have time to receive:
Hi, all. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted (technically a year), and I’m sure everyone missed me terribly (haha).
I have been pretty busy. Between moving, starting my new job, going on holidays with my husband (the profile photo will change accordingly once I get pictures transferred on here), and just now finding an internet connection to bum here at the house, blogging has definitely fallen by the wayside. This is also my first blog on my new netbook. I can already tell I will have to do some souping up on this thing, but for now, I think we will be good friends. 🙂
So now, on to the book.
My husband and I unfortunately didn’t receive premarital counseling. Not because we didn’t *want* to, but time was short, and we just couldn’t coordinate our schedules accordingly. To me, Love and War feels like the premarital counsel we never had. (My husband hasn’t read it yet, but he probably will when he returns.)
There was a lot in the book to chew on, so I’ll just highlight some of the things that stood out to me.
I sort of cheated a bit, I guess, because I had already heard this in the podcast before I read the book, but the fact that marriage is essentially the bookends of time is pretty interesting. Our culture as a whole is so individualistic and independence-happy that we don’t like to think maybe our overdosing on these things is more toxic than helpful. We would much rather think things like, “I don’t need anybody,”or “I am the master of my own destiny.” The idea of rugged, determined individualism sounds much braver than things like, “I need help,” or “I can’t do this without you.” Really, when you think about it, it is so interestingly ironic that we are made for community, and yet, something in us is so twisted that we recoil from the idea of looking insufficient alone. It’s a love/hate relationship. We are born into sin, Satan worms his way in, and we find ourselves replaying Eden over and over again every day in all the little choices we make. It is no wonder that the Enemy is after marriages. If marriage is a series of sacrifices for the heart of another, surely selfish pride is the easiest way to kill a marriage, and kill Christlike growth.
Another thing that really caught my attention in the book is the idea of opposites attracting, and not just on levels of personality, but on levels of brokenness, as well. My husband and I are opposite in pretty much every way (I mean, just look at the wedding photos). Apparently, when he was younger, he used to be more like me, but of course God would have me wait to meet him until he was my opposite. Just a quick overview of what I’m talking about here: My husband is 4 years older than me, and he has had at least 30 jobs. He has been told more than once that with all of his life experiences, he should actually be 50. I, on the other hand, am very “green.” In pretty much everything. I can be pretty naive about everything from how to de-bone a chicken thigh to just the ways of the world in general. My husband has a sick and twisted sense of humor. I have a wry, commentary-on-someone’s-comment sense of humor. He’s an extrovert; I’m an introvert. He thrives in cold weather. I shiver like a wimp. You get the idea. However, our individual brokenness plays against each other, too. I have an inner compulsion to handle abandonment in one of two ways: either distance myself so that abandonment doesn’t sting, or try my best to do everything right so I won’t be abandoned. So far, I find the latter plays out a lot with us. My husband, being so experienced and good at everything (he’s like Captain Awesome in the show Chuck, minus the surfer-like mannerisms), sometimes places high expectations on me, which I (being the “green” one), often fail in. He gets frustrated, I beat myself up and fear he’ll leave. And often, if he’s upset enough, he will suddenly leave for awhile to cool off. Again, I beat myself up and hope he comes back. It’s really quite amazing–and diabolical–how these cycles work. And yet, I had never realized it until I read it in the book. So, I owe Stasi and John a big thanks for illuminating that one. And, not just that, but to help readers realize that it is actually for the better because God uses those clashes to help us shape each other positively.
The idea of a shared adventure perked my ears up, as well. Not exactly sure what to do with that one yet, but just having it stored as an idea to bring up in the future is valuable.
Prayer together was another intriguing thing. It is something we said we would start doing when we got married, and it hasn’t happened yet. That was actually a question I had that didn’t get answered in an online forum: my husband and I have different approaches to meeting with God. I am more the sit, read the Bible, pray kind of person. He is more the pray while he’s working, experience God while fishing kind of person. I’m stumped as to how to meet in the middle and not force each other to one side or the other.
The little foxes chapter was a good one for me to read. I try to be nonconfrontational. At least, externally. Something could be driving me nuts, but I will keep silent about it as long as I can because I don’t want to infringe on his way of life. Of course, one of the points of the book is that the whole point is to infringe on each other. Otherwise, transformation can’t happen. They also made a valid point that little foxes need to be stopped while they are little. This is something I will have to work on. My husband seems to feel much more freedom to correct me than I do to correct him (which gets frustrating in and of itself).
All in all, I enjoyed the book a lot. I would definitely recommend it. There is enough thought-provoking content in that book to keep you thinking for years. And that’s good.
In the entire book, there was only one part I disagreed with (which is a first for me with the Eldredges). At the very end of the book, a comment is made that people who choose to not marry or who choose to not have children are selfish. I don’t know if I can agree with that. I do agree that if someone chooses to not marry or have children out of simple fear or something like that, it is selfish. But I for one would have a hard time calling Mother Theresa selfish. She didn’t marry or have children of her own, but she poured her life into a country’s worth of children and adults. I also don’t know that I would recommend someone who hates kids having kids of their own; the kids would be scarred and the parents would be bitter. (Please do not read that statement as advocacy for abortion; it is not. Even if someone who hates kids gets pregnant, there is always the option of adoption.) There are also people who wouldn’t mind being married, but for whatever reason, are never invited to be in that kind of relationship. I wouldn’t advise those individuals to go out and marry anybody so they wouldn’t be selfish. And I wouldn’t recommend that couples who don’t have kids yet get started having them immediately so they wouldn’t be selfish. This is probably not what John meant by his statements. Basically, I don’t agree with those particular statements as written because I think being married or single, parent or not, is not as important as what you do with what you are. A parent or married person can be selfish. A single non-parent can be one of the most giving people around. The key is to have a heart that is open to God and others, so that whatever “status” we may have, God can use us to our fullest capacity, and others can be positively shaped through that.
For those who haven’t read Love and War yet, I recommend it. If you’re on the fence, listen to the podcasts about it. They will give you a taste of what it’s about, and they will undoubtedly whet your appetite for more.