When a brave couple enters my office, after pleasantries, often the first thing that I ask is:
“How do you folks feel about being here?”
A common response I get is: “I can’t believe we are here..”
There is a sense of shame and failure – “what’s wrong with us??”
And I totally get it.
What I explain in this episode is that: Nothing is wrong with you, in fact, it’s to be expected.
Before we do that, let’s zoom out to a real philosophical question about the nature of the human experience.
“It is the nature of being human to experience this world as BROKEN.”
Broken does not mean bad or wrong. Broken does not mean problematic or hopeless. Broken means that there are chaotic forces that deny purpose, usurp control and undermine security at every junction. So, the world “asks for” even demands… rectifying, sweetening, educating, guiding, refining, elevating, holding, tending, nurturing, providing, healing and loving in order for it to function in its intended way; so that it can reveal its TRUE nature. As I hope we will see, starting with the assumption of brokenness allows human workers, a more purposeful and forgiving backdrop.
You might ask: “Well, what about the whole “Garden of Eden” thing? Wasn’t paradise perfect? While it was a more clarified state of existence than then messiness we currently find ourselves in, it was not perfect. Even before the sin, G-d places Adam in the garden and clearly tells Adam about the responsibility to “work the garden and to protect it”. A perfected state does not require cultivation or protection. So, things needed tending from the start. Yes, given certain decisions, things deteriorated, descended and thus required deeper investments of energy and engagement, but let’s be clear: This world was never perfect, nor was it intended to be.
While a fuller discussion of brokenness and its many ramifications is beyond the scope of this brief presentation, it might be worthwhile to consider what it means for our intimate relationships.
As we will see more extensively in the next episode, marriage was given to us as a way to alleviate brokenness. To bring the human being from a lonely, disconnected state of “no good” to a state of connection and cleaving with one’s partner. This “becoming one flesh” is part of the overall project of healing existence and like everything else in the project the subject of commitment and deliberate work.
For me this is encouraging.
Rather than seeing relational challenges as some type of dysfunction or pathology; as something that is wrong with me, with you and/or with us, it gives me a compassionate sense of purpose:
“Of course we are having issues, we are trying to create harmony, connection and peace in a world that has none of that in mind for us.” There’s no shame here, that is what we are called to do. Let’s get to work.”
Takeaway – Brokenness and Chaos are a given. Marriage was given as part of the overall rectification project. Expect tension and challenge. Deliberate participation is mandatory for success.