“Dip your toes in the water” she spoke, almost a whisper, like a prayer to a mere mortal. The warm July wind hummed across the the Cote d’Azur, singing softly through the trees. He stared pensively to the blue, hesitant to offer any response. Still, she prayed once more:
“Dip, just try it, dip, dip your toes in the water”. Her call was sweet, and despite her beauty, she was no siren, there was no temptress tone in her words.
The pain was still too great. The fear, crippling. For dipping would lead to heels, heels to which his head would fall over too quickly.
Her soft fingers traced down his sunbrown back. Sand stuck to his lightly sweated neck. Flinching, he was unable to dissuade her hearts call to touch.
“Just a toe” she whispered.
His cheek flinched, the sun sparkling rays of warmth into his otherwise cold soul. His raised arm over his face no match from the glare from the blue. He shifted, nestling under the protection of the vine, shielding, as if it were, from the warmth. Her words resonated. Echoed. Bounced off the walls of his heavily guarded heart. Still, her hand gently persistent, tracing ‘eternity’ around his squared, pensive shoulders.
“One dip, it’s all I ask” sweetness permeated from her lips. He wondered, picking his salt-dried lips, wondered, wondered, wondered why. The pain gripped him around the throat one more time, angrily choking the wonder from his mind.
He remembered the cruel sea. He remembered the pain of the dark blue. The storms. The angry wind, the viscous waves. The grave of the deep reaching his angry hand to drag him down. The siren of the water, that whore, promising pleasure, leaving him shipwrecked, alone, adrift.
Still, he wondered.
She stared out across the Mediterranean. Her fingers, massaging the nape of his neck, prying the anger away from his throat. Her warm fingers. Twirling a lock. Tracing the bones of his spine. Being.
They hadn’t spoken since her proclamation in Marseilles, since he shut down, wondering why she would ruin what they had with something so reckless as love. His broken heart still clenched tight, he angered at why she would dare. Why she would be so foolish as to entrust such a thing in him. Still, her fingers lingered.
“Try me” she implored once again “Just dip your toe in, just once” her words, reassuring, her repetition comforting. He found himself inching towards the thought.
He trained his eyes on the sea. The white caps of the waves, the boats rocking like distant metronomes on the water. He felt the tempest recede inside of him. He wondered, just wondered.
“Dip your toe in the water, my darling, dip it in the water, with me” her voice once again gently persistent like the incoming tide, coming up to meet him, to meet his shore.
The storm still stirred, yet he turned, turned towards her. Her eyes deep as the blue before him, he mustered a squint and a smile
“I’ll dip my toe in the water, I’ll dip it with you”.
Image from http://swim-in-the-sea-count-the-stars.tumblr.com/post/112132247487
They say marriage is a lifetime of getting used to someone. Without a doubt, any long term relationship is a rollercoaster. You get the good, the bad, the ugly. Sometimes you can get all of that in the space of an hour!
You’ve probably noticed your slightly (or very!) different, depending on who your with. Some people are quiet and industrious at work, but put them in a grandstand at the football and they are boisterous and uncouth! Some people are relaxed everywhere, except behind the wheel of a car. You probably have variations on who you are, depending on the context of the situation.
Another way of looking at this is do you give your partner what’s right, or what’s left. For example, do you find yourself planning your life on how you can invest in your partner, or, do you find yourself giving them the scraps of your energy after everyone else has had a piece of you?
There’s an interesting dynamic though, in marriage. It’s the dynamic, or tension between being your real self, and being your best self. It’s the tension between doing what’s real to you, and doing what’s best for your relationship. It’s an interesting, and difficult tension.
It’s the tension that you get after you and your partner have had really huge weeks, and you want to sit quietly and they want to talk through the week. Do you be your true self, or your best self for your partner?
It’s the tension in silly things – leaving the toilet seat up because you don’t care what way it goes, and putting it down because your partner likes it down and you want to be your best for them.
It’s the tension between just wanting to go to sleep, because that’s what you want, or choosing to open up physically to your partner because you want to give your best to your partner.
It’s the tension between listening enough to hear the key points, or giving your whole attention to your partner.
I think this tension manifests itself in many things.
So what is the answer? I used the picture above because I’ve met some people who seem to think that love is a licence for bad behavior. They seem to use the ‘if you can’t love me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best’ mentality to really just be selfish. Inversely, I’ve met other people who do literally everything they can to support their partner. It might be in the way they put their life on hold to support their partners career, or family, a project or lifestyle.
Is there a point where you give up being your real self, and give your best self, for the sake of the relationship? What about vice versa?
You can only every control yourself, your actions and emotions, so this isn’t about changing your partner. What I’m asking is how have you managed that tension between giving your best self to your partner, and being your real self? Can the two ‘selves’ exist? Can you be real, but still give the best of yourself to your partner? I’m curious, let me know.
Before you say it, yes, I didn’t blog about day six. That’s because most of the day was spend driving from Sydney to Port Macquarie. Because you’re all terribly interested, we stopped off to see my brother in law and his family for the night in Wauchope, a quaint little town inland a bit from Port.
The morning of day six was spent watching my nephew play soccer, so I found an excuse to pop into town to fetch some supplies for the drive back to Brisbane. I like Wauchope, it’s old rail yards and country feeling. Check out a few snaps.Day six, while spent mostly driving back to Brisbane, was a day of quiet contemplation, and if there’s two things I like, it’s quietness, and contemplation.
Over the last week, we’d cruised the nighttime peace of the Lockyer Valley. I’d taken on the foggy lofts of the Toowoomba Range, and the loneliness of the Gore Highway before dawn. We galloped across the western corridor of New South Wales, and I suspect if we’d come a day earlier, it would have been a picture of dry farmlands, aching for the rain that accompanied us on our drive. We voyaged past towns of yore, sleepy villages and tired rural centers. Gently undulating mountains and now-green farmland greeted us for many hundreds of kilometers, then offset to the murderous roads of Sydney.
We’d basked in the joy of Sydney Harbour and enjoyed what people travel all over the world to experience. That crystal harbour, the vibrant city, the Opera House and the Bridge, all stunning snapshots of that magnificent city.
But now, as we pull out of ‘the doughnut’ at Port Macquarie, I look forward to the next six or so hundred kilometers to beautiful Brisbane.
You need to understand that pretty much from Coffs through to the Ballina is God’s country, and I don’t say that lightly. In the afternoon sun, this country is about as close to the heavens as one can get.
On the west, as the sun drizzles over the mountain you’ll see see cane farm nestled in the cradle of valleys. Rivers take the path of least resistance towards the sea, carving a curvy glass mirror through the lows of the countryside. Oyster leases peak out of the water and old couples, sipping coffee out of metallic cups look into it. Fortified bridges, like church spires guide the way from south to north, forcing even the most seasoned traveler to cover the break and marvel at the still rivers underneath. I’m reminded of my time doing disaster relief after ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, in a small farming valley of the Lockyer. Old farmers talked with reverence of the waters, which provided life, death, inspiration and fear, and a local to these parts knew only too well how these currently dulcet rivers turned to fists of rage during a ‘big wet’.
To the east, much of the same. Quiet towns, abandoned churches, picket fences and farmhouses held up by ivy. The sun casts long shadows and the cane seems to arch west, aching for the last warms of the winter sun as it ducks behind the western horizon.
We inch north and run parallel to the coast. From Nambucca, we see glimpses of the Pacific, and it continues to reveal itself little by little as we head up the coast. This freeway is built for speed, the country was formed for taking it easy, and part of me thinks it’s a shame that we see this part of the earth as an inconvenience to race past. , rather than enjoy its intricate beauty. Once we hit the Byron hinterland, it’s just over an hour to home, and just over an hour until life kicks back in to its usual gears.
I continue at 110, wishing I could spend a week exploring these Northern Rivers, but aching for my own shower, my own toilet and my own bed.
It’s been a fantastic week on many levels. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my family, this country. Like any travel, it opens doors, gives you this wunderlust, makes you want to leave, and makes you want to come home again.
My son came home from Kindy yesterday with some craft, as he so often does. He had brought home a picture of a bucket with things inside. He’d learned about ‘love buckets’. You’ve probably hear about something similar – needs, love banks and alike. My son exclaimed that we need to put deposits into each others love buckets. You can make deposits be being kind, saying nice things, showing someone you love them. For the record, I’m accepting deposits into my ego bank at the moment 😉 .
Why do we put deposits into someone’s love bucket? I guess some answers would be because we love them, we want to show them and we want to invest in their life.
In a sense, love is an investment. I’m quite sure we invest love into someone, because we expect some type of return – love, support, kindness, companionship, the best for them. Whilst I think it’s wrong to give, expecting some type of return (this will usually lead to disappointment), deep inside I think we all want some type of return on our investment.
So the question is, what do you do when someone invests love into you?
What do you do with the love that is shown and given to you?
Some people’s hearts are high-risk investments. They are volatile, their return fluctuates depending on a myriad of factors. Sometimes, they give a huge return, showing massive amounts of appreciation, support and love. Other times, they are a negative investment, taking all that you have to give, the return on the investment is hurt and disappointment. The giver of love is left in deficit, the taker of love has squandered the gift entrusted to them.
There are hearts that seem to be closed to deposits. You know the type – people who’ve built walls around their life for whatever reason. People, where you’ve tried to show them you’re feelings and thoughts towards them, but they just don’t seem to be receptive to you in any way. Maybe you’re married to this type of person?
Then there’s are hearts who gives a steady return on an investment. A heart that pays interest adds to the love already deposited in it. What do I mean? Unlike a bank, there’s no cost to paying interest on a deposit of love in your heart. When a bank pays interest, they have already carefully calculated the cost of paying interest. There’s no cost to paying interest on a deposit of love, however!
So how can you pay interest on a deposit of love? I think there’s a range of ways. A word that isn’t used that often is gratitude. Being grateful to the one who deposited love into your heart. Being thankful of the love that’s being deposited can be a great way to pay interest on an investment of love. It might pay to ask the best way to pay interest on the deposit of love – you may be surprised! Showing love back is a huge return on the investment put in your heart.
Is there someone trying to put deposits of love into your heart? What type of bank are they investing into?
Are they risking it all to sow into your life – will their investment tank or will you allow it to build you up?
Is your bank open to deposits? Can you allow someone to invest love into your life?
Is your heart a bank that will warmly pay interest on the love it’s been entrusted with?
Open up the bank of your heart. Be receptive to the love someone wants to invest in you. Be generous with the interest you pay that love. It’s the only investment where both people give, and both people are richer for it.
I expect this post will raise the ire of some of my more conservative readers, and perhaps generate some debate.
First up, I’m not going to debate the morality of people who have same-sex attraction, neither am I going to delve into the alphabet of sexual identities.
Same-sex parenting was again brought to the forefront of the media recently with iconic Italian designers Dolce and Gabbana expressing that there is only one family – a man, a woman and children. Elton John quickly expressed outrage over these comments, as did many progressive commentators.
The debate about Same-Sex couples revolves around ideas such as: should be able to adopt, utilise IVF and have the same legal rights as ‘traditional’ parents. It focuses on equal rights for all. I totally get this. One of the prevailing arguments used by supporters of Same-Sex couples having children is that Same-Sex couples make just as good parents. I’ve got no doubt on the parenting ability of Same-Sex couples, the love they can provide their children and the resources, time and emotional energy they so evidently give their children.
There is a risk, at this point, to refer to the recent story of a Same-Sex couple here in Australia that adopted a dear child and did unspeakable crimes to him, then use this story as an argument against Same-Sex parenting. Sadly, and disgustingly, child abuse favors no sexual orientation, belief system or set of ideals. It is an insidious crime that should not be tolerated in any situation.
It would be naive to think that legislation will stop or encourage Same-Sex parenting – certainly not in a Western democracy. Indeed, ISIS are taking a more hardline approach to homosexuality, and, as a side note, I often wonder why ‘progressives’ stand up for this evil ideology. You don’t need a science degree to figure out how babies are made. I don’t want to sound crass, but it isn’t particularly hard for Same-Sex parents to find a kindred couple (or individual) to donate sperm or a womb to produce a baby. There are still legalities involved, but to put it pragmatically, if a Same-Sex couple wanted to have a family, the ‘mechanics’ of it really isn’t that hard.
My views of Same-Sex marriage and parenting have changed somewhat over the years. Some have argued that permitting Same-Sex marriage and parenting is a slippery slope to all kinds of depravity. Truly, I think the depravity has been there since day dot. It’s just out in the open now. If a couple, regardless of sexual identity wants to marry, I have to be honest – it really does not impact me. Same as Same-Sex couples that want to have children. Does it really impact me? Honestly – no.
Here’s what I do think, however. I’ve written before on how my dad died when I was 6. I’m blessed to have a wonderful, loving mum and to have a step-dad that I love, respect and honour. He’s been a real rock for me in many times of woe. Here’s the rub, for me at least. As great as my step-dad is, there’s a part of me that longs to see my dad again. To share my life with, to laugh, love and be with.
Children of Same-Sex relationships, I’m sure, grow up to be happy, stable, productive members of society. I can’t help think, however, that a child misses out by not knowing their mum or dad, like a hole in their heart, that despite how much love, attention, support and goodness they get from other sources, still has a biological-parent shaped hole that they want filled.
There are people that I love, respect and worship with that are ardently against Same-Sex marriage and parenting. I understand their arguments, passions, thoughts and feelings. Honestly, I don’t begrudge them either. I expect they may take exception to what I’ve written.
Personally, I believe that the optimal way of ‘doing family’ is a child having married hetro-sexual parents, living together, working towards a shared set of values who invest in their marriage and their children. Anyone who has been in any type of relationship knows that a long term, committed relationship is hard yakka. Really hard. You don’t need to look far to see the terrible impacts of broken families.
I’ve found when you attack an idea, a person, or a way of life, it seems to galvanize those who you attack. You only need to look at the likes of Fred Nile – his stance against Same-Sex marriage seems to have strengthened his opponents. If you believe that your way of life is the optimal way – the ideal, shouldn’t the results speak for themselves?
Supporters of traditional marriage should be selling the benefits of marriage, not attacking detractors of it. Let your marriage and family be an example of love, grace, support and shared values, not a platform for condemnation. Oscar Wilde once said “Wickedness is the name we give to the curious attractiveness of others”. Certainly, demonizing a particular way of doing marriage and parenting will only support the curious attractiveness of it, not prevent it.
I’ve said before that you can’t legislate against an idea, ideology or opinion. You can legislate against a behavior (with limited success), but not ideas.
Family is one of the most important things in the world – I think we can all agree on that. If you think and believe that you have the ‘best’ way of doing family, be an example in your community. Not as a ‘holier than thou’ Flanders type family, but a real family. Get alongside families (of any colour, shape or description) in your community and support them in love. Be a family that includes, not excludes. Be a family that loves, not loathes. Be a family that shines light, not casts darkness.
I suspect that it is only a matter of time before there is no legal impediments for Same-Sex couples to marry and have children. You can sign petitions, write letters, like Facebook pages, but honestly, I suspect that it’s not going to make a whole lot of difference. Here’s where you can make a difference – with the people you work with. Your neighbors. The families at school. The individuals. As far as I know, there’s no law against being the best example of the family model you believe in – warts and all.
Marriage, family and parenting is hard. There’s always going to be people that do it in REALLY different ways to you – ways you probably won’t agree with. I’m a true believer that kindness wins over judgement any day. I truly believe that if you model, in love, what you believe is the optimal type of family, people will be drawn to it, not repelled by it. Love draws in, not casts away. Everyone is on their own journey – if you believe in God and believe his ways are right and true, his Holy Spirit will guide you, and those around you, to holiness. Pray for the families in your community, for the strength to love them in a way that they need.
Be the light in your communities. Be the best family – the family that loves, supports, guides. The family that’s honest in it’s struggles and open with it’s triumphs.
That will influence your community more than any legislation can.
Pic from http://cdn04.cdn.justjared.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/john-fam/elton-john-david-furniss-family-trip-with-zachary-elijah-03.jpg
Many people will agree that being cheated on, is one of the worst betrayals. To break your marriage vows, to be unfaithful, to break the boundaries you have set in your own marriage – simply terrible. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment – it would be the ultimate betrayal.
As much as being ‘cheated on’ is horrible, I think there is something as equally insidious. That’s being ‘cheated out of’ something. What do I mean by this?
The standard marriage vows go something like:
I, take you to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part
You might not cheat on your partner, but are you cheating them out of a promise? Affection? Financial support? Love? Tenderness? Communication. Warmth. The list could go on. Things, that if a one off, probably aren’t going to ruin a marriage. You have a bad day, you don’t feel like talking and all you can muster is a ‘meh’ and an evening on the couch. But you can cheat your spouse out of the intimacy of knowing you, buy establishing a lifestyle of coming home and basically ignoring them. You could say the same for a range of things – sex, a hug, quality time, proper communication, domestic organisation. Missing or forgetting something important once or twice probably isn’t going to starve your partner, but continued practice will cheat them out of a promise you made to them.
It’s so easy to cheat out of things these days. Clocking into work 5 minutes late. Taking that stationary home from work. Using margarine instead of butter (BIG no no!!).
I’ve found in marriage, there are no shortcuts. You can’t rush intimacy. You cant hit ‘fast forward’ on hard times. You can’t hit rewind after a great evening with your spouse. You can’t mute the everyday and expect to draw closer to your partner.
Cheating on your partner is a pretty deliberate act, and an absolutely rotten thing to do. It’s just as easy, however, to cheat your partner out of your promises. I truly believe both are detrimental to a marriage. Being faithful to the ‘everyday’ promises is what strengthens a marriage – things you are probably doing anyway! It’s being present at the dinner table, chatting with your partner and children. It’s turning off the TV and asking each other how you are going. It’s seeing a job that needs doing around the home and simply doing it, rather than wait for your partner to do it. It’s extending warmth and love to your partner, even if you’re not feeling that way yourself.
I don’t want this to be a depressive post – to the contrary! We all get stale in many areas of our lives – our jobs, families, community work, marriages. The main difference in these, however, is that marriage is an explicit promise. It’s not a contract, like a job. It’s not an expectation, like your family. It’s a promise. A promise to be an active partner in your marriage, not a passive one.
Have a think today about if you’ve let passivity enter your marriage, and perhaps what you can do to deliberately love your partner. Don’t cheat them out of the love you promised – let them know you love them!
Have you found that you’ve unconsciously (or even consciously!) cheated your partner out of a promise? Was there a wake up call? How did it turn out? I’m interested in hearing!
Image from http://www.tacori.com/wedding-bands/
The wilderness. A place far away. The wilderness of the soul. The wilderness of relationship. The wilderness of being. A place where all senses are both parched, starved and then finally, restored.
I’ve been pondering times when I, and those around me have been in the wilderness. When ones I’ve loved have been far away – either physically, mentally, relationally or spiritually. Times when no amount of reaching out could save them from the scorched earth they have found themselves in.
History is littered with times of people who have had wilderness experiences. Some are self-imposed, some are enforced by outside forces. I think of Joseph, head filled with dreams and promises, sold as a slave. I think of Moses, wondering around the Middle Eastern desert for many, many years. I think of David, who was promised to become king, running into the desert for his life.
All these stories have similarities. These men’s lives start full of promise – whether it be dreams, a royal upbringing or a promise of greatness. I think of a life changing event or events these men had – challenges on their life, a fissure between their promised glory and their present reality. I try to empathise with these men – how would I react if everything I held dear was ripped away from me? My home, my family, my comfort, my stability taken away and I was flung into the desert.
There’s a few ways we can react when we are having a wilderness experience. When everything seems far away, when even a little comfort seems unattainable. When we thirst for refreshment of the soul, of the mind, of the spirit or some nourishment relationally.
I guess there’s a stack of ways you can act when you’re in the wilderness. You could just let it overcome you. You could fight it out. You could go into survival mode. I guess everyone is different and deals with those experiences differently.
The more I hear of people that have had ‘wilderness experiences’, the more I see an emerging pattern. After being in the wilderness, there’s a restoration, but that restoration is always a choice. People generally don’t chose to stay in the desert forever. We all know the aforementioned stories end – Joseph does not lose sight of his visions, regardless of what life throws at him (and a stack is thrown at him). He stays true, he believes, he is lead through his many wildernesses. Moses? He led the Israelites out of Egypt. That’s no mean feat! David? From shepherd boy to giant killer to desert wanderer to King.
Here’s the crunch. What were those dreams you had in your heart, all those years ago? Where are they now? Have they been snubbed out by life? By a wilderness experience? Maybe your partner walked out on you. Perhaps you lost your job. Maybe your faith has been battered by the storms of life. Maybe the lure of riches ended up just being a rusty fishhook.
I truly believe those dreams were put in your heart for a reason. I also truly believe sometimes we need a wilderness experience to remember those dreams. To remember what it is you believed in, those many years ago. You don’t need to be in the wilderness forever. You don’t need to be separated – from life, from promise, from relationship, from destiny, from hope forever.
What has being in the wilderness taught you? When all has been stripped away, what is really important to you?
What’s stopping you from getting out of the wilderness? Pride? Past hurts? You’re right on your own? You like being in the middle of the desert? Whatever it is, you can be restored – but you need to make the decision.
Look around you – the world is full of stories of the odds being battled. Of sunshine after the rain. Of the stillness after the storm has past.
It’s time for you to write your story of coming out of the wilderness.
Image from http://www.hashtagpics.com/?p=595