Think about the last time you really felt aware of and in awe of God.
I’ve been thinking about it all day, because I’ve had How Great Thou Art stuck in my head all day.
The first three verses of the hymn relate to God’s creation, salvation, and splendor. They highlight the differences between God and man. I love singing the hymn; it leaves me with a heightened awareness of the Greatness of Our God, and my desire to be united and consumed by that greatness.
Enter Sheila Gregorie. Sheila Gregorie of To Love, Honor, and Vacuum (if I haven’t piqued your curiosity about this woman wizard yet, just wait, I’ll convert you one of these days) doesn’t quite get the Theology of the Body (alas, the evangelicals don’t know what they are missing) but she does have a solid grasp on the extraordinary reality of how marriage mirrors God’s relationship with us.
The last time I spent any significant time studying the Theology of the Body, I was engaged, teaching a class with our resident deacon to middle schoolers. Lately, I’ve been going back to it, and the experience as a married woman brings with it so many new understandings.
For example, I had heard before that the unique physical intimacy of a husband and wife is a type (an event that foreshadows another event, as in Melchizedech being a type of Christ) of the Beatific Vision and union with God. But it was Sheila Gregorie’s book yesterday evening coupled with my variety of experiences as a wife that really made me figure that out.
When do you feel closest to God? is it not when you recognize that you are definitely not God? When you decide to give Him control, and you surrender; when you praise Him for what He has done that you could never do; when you recognize that He is holy and you are not– that is when you are most drawn to your knees to worship and to pray. On the ohter hand, when you start tying to rationalize how God’s preference for music or worship or politics completely mirrors yours, or you put God in a box and use Him to judge others, you feel far from Him…. The difference is what is important.
If we are similar to God, what need do we have for Him? If we are just similar and completely equal in every way to our spouses, what need do we have for each other? Just like our relationship with God, “the differences is what is important” and the difference is what draws us to each other.
Sheila goes on to say that she is the most attracted to her husband when he is the manliest and she is the most feminine. That should just go without saying, but in this bizarre over-sensualized mixed up world, it actually has to be stated. We shoot ourselves in the foot when we try to get our men to be more like women, as a rule. We shoot ourselves in the foot when we try to get our women to be like men, as a rule. The difference in our beings is what should attract us to each other, on a certain level anyhow, and particularly what wills us to surrender to and be consumed by one another.
When was the last time you were really aware of or in awe of your spouse?
Mine was this afternoon, as my husband expertly banged on his old Ford Bronco, figuring out what on earth was up with the engine this time. My method is more like this: check engine light goes on. I pop the hood and check the engine. “Yup, it’s still there.”
In marriage prep, we were told that our job was to lead our spouses to God. At the time, I envisioned a kind of hand-holding dragging each other along at various points along the way. As our marriage continues, I’m learning that there are elements of just my husband’s being, like his automotive expertise, apparently, that lead me to God– he couldn’t help it if he tried.
The occasional contemplation of my spouse and his strengths and differences to me, and the recognition of him as a compliment and completion of myself lead me to comprehend God in a completely unique way.
How beautiful that God blessed me with a vocation to foreshadow union with Him so expertly. And how lucky am I to have a clever grease monkey to show me a little of what God is every day.
So, in the immortal words of Spencer Tracy: “Vivre le difference!”