Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More Than A Feeling: The Cup that Faith and Marriage Share

I'm still here, folks, still alive and kicking in my green snow-day fleece.

Monday we burned it up in an energized flurry of painting, baking, game-playing and general getting-alongness. Tuesday, quite another story.

What I'm finding is that I'm a snow day Jekyll & Hyde. Every blue ribbon day is followed by one that we survive by way of 17 hours of cartoons and scrounged up left-overs.

It's just so cold out. I have not stepped beyond the front door since Sunday at 3pm.

Bah. Enough of this stupid weather talk! Who have I become? Why do you guys stick around??

So, did any of you watch Sean & Catherine Lowe get hitched Sunday night? Being ABC-less, I did not. I tried last night but ABC's website hates me because I don't have a satellite TV provider, and all I can say to that is, IF I HAD SATELLITE TV I WOULDN'T BE IN THIS POSITION IN THE FIRST PLACE!

But nevermind my yelling. (I'm a little cooped up.)

The thing about the Lowes is that I just love them. It's nothing new for me to have unbridled, irrational hope in a reality TV couple, but this is different. I'm going to put it out there: I read their tweets from the day of their wedding and I'm sold. This is a guy who knows who he is and what he's about. And aside from the unusual way we came to know their names, they are actual people. He has a favorite meal and she has raggedy sweatpants that we'll never, ever see. They get their feelings hurt and speak in anger and forgive. They navigate their faith just like normal people do, imperfectly, and with the scary addition of a spotlight.

I'm rooting for them. I'm grateful for their courage. And geez, I just love a sappy love story.

Three nights back Cory and I were up until after 2 a.m. with our oldest, talking about funny things and inconsequential things and eventually, really important things. The kid asks hard questions and this lady right here was fumbling for answers, praying so hard for the right words that I don't even remember what they were.

He wondered what we mean when we talk about God leading us in some way, or speaking to us. How do we know? Do we actually hear it? Because he never has. He had his moment when everything fell away and he sat at rock bottom with nothing but the truth that there was something much larger than himself, a God who created and loved him, and that he needed him.

But now what? What does it mean when all those feelings drift out to sea and life busts you in the face? Was something lost? Was that feeling never really his to hold?

I found myself returning again and again to the story of my marriage, the irrational, ridiculous, falling-in-love of his parents, complete with all the bells and whistles and roses and tears.

I told him about the night I stood in the center of the soccer field, a stubborn twenty-year old myself, so sure that this was the man I would love forever, how I begged God to let him be mine and knew that feeling could never blow away.

God did let him be mine, almost 15 years ago.
But that feeling hides sometimes. It gets lost in life and appointments and bills and different kinds of tears.

I wish it wasn't this way.

If I could, I would have gathered up that soccer field feeling and kept it in a tiny bottle by my side, spritzing a little onto my hair everyday, the elixir of perpetual bliss.

Instead, I got the gift of that moment, as clear as the ice tracking my window panes, the certainty that it was real. It was love.

And anything real can last.
And anything love can last.

Some days it feels like the sun on my shoulders or his hand on my own, a tangible thing.
Other days it's a promise, drifting and shadow-hiding, but still known.

We sell our hope for a tired dime when we tie our marriage or our faith to a feeling, cooking the intended complexity of holy communion down to dregs.

Call me an introvert, a thinker, dispassionate, practical.
You're at least half-right.

But I hear that song on the radio on a day that's gray and my heart is beating on the far-away side and it worries me, because this feeling very well could be wrong. And I don't think worship is something we "get on".

Worship, like love, is a certain steadiness. It's staying consistent and present when the days are too long and the nights are lonely. It's all the little things, the small obediences and unacknowledged tasks. Worship is the salt-tracks of grief and quiet reflection. Love is toes touching under the covers when words have been scare or raw.

Faith, like love, is staying up when you're tired. It's walking miles and miles when your feet are sore. It's keeping a thing that can't always been seen, trusting you won't be left alone and knowing you won't be the one to walk away.

I don't know that Robert really understood all we were saying, because all this God stuff is brand new and he's never known the kind of love that keeps on staying.

But that's what I'm wishing for him, and for the Lowes and for you and for me. I'm wishing we keep finding a way to stay IN this. That we ride the flows and all the ebbs and keep our feelings in the corner when they're uncooperative or playing hide-and-seek.

God is so much bigger.
Love is so much greater.


  1. Feeling DO come and go, you are so right! Part of what I am teaching this week is that when we face difficult situations we have to stand on FACTS and not depend on our feelings....which is why it is of utmost importance for us to know scripture!

    Praying for Robert to be drawn close. Praying for you to stay sane in the face of all the snow days.

  2. I was sitting at the table feeding the baby on yet another day home from school and I thought, 'I'll read Shannan's new post real quick' and now I am crying, just sobbing right next to LK's oatmeal. She is a little confused. Your words are beautiful and you have done a good job of capturing a feeling that is hard to convey. God knew what He was doing when He sent Robert your way. Stay warm, friend!

    1. Gather up your people and COME TO US! Let's be snowed in together!

    2. OMW, wouldn't that have been fun! If only I had know for sure the last three days were going to be spent inside our lovely LITTLE house, I totally would have packed us up and made the journey.

  3. Thank you and amen and oh boy do I need this post.

  4. The word that comes to mind is Abide. Why is it so hard?
    I'm home with two littles sick today(one has been sick since the weekend) and I'm trying to get my Abide on.
    Praying for Robert and for you all today.

  5. {i'm a snow day Jekyll and Hyde... haha... that made me laugh because i hear ya friend... i'm the same way...}

    you really have a way with words... i so enjoy reading your posts!

  6. oh, girl. i so know this right now. just staying all in even when times are hard. believing that all uphills have a downhill. in marriage and in faith.

  7. This is a great post...but I have no idea who the Lowes are :) Really.

    1. I don't either! And I also don't get the worship song reference. And yet we love Shannon's posts anyhow, am I right?!

    2. Hahaha!!

      In the words of my wise friend Katy Girl, "Shannan. Do you know how to Google?" :D

      Thanks for loving me even when I'm not making sense to anyone but myself!

  8. So much bad theology in that song! Glad someone else noticed. I don't want to bash, but I wish the Christian music industry would get a grip! Or maybe stop being an industry. So're great. Keep being awesome :)

  9. The wedding ceremony was darling and dreamy - it should be "unlocked" on ABC by next week, I think?? Sean tweeted, "Jesus may your name be known today" (swoon!) and HE WAS.
    We all need a Robert to ask questions that push us and move us, and when we don't have all the answers, that's ok. We can lay them down next to the God who is big and loves big. He's the cup bearer, the glue, the motivation, the answer.

  10. I do not even begin to understand it all, but was struck the other day while cleaning and putting up Valentine stuff by two verses that my son was asking about 1) God is love. 1John 4:8 and 2)Love is patient. Love is kind....from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. If God is love, which I believe he is because the Bible says it than he is what Love is...meaning God is patient. God is kind...God never fails. All the things that love is described as in the Bible are descriptions of our God. I don't think I can really put my head around it and grasp all that this means, but it is certainly awesome to think about. Will be praying for you and Cory as you share with Robert that God would use you both.
    I totally feel you with the weather - I live in Central Indiana (Pendleton area). I am so done with winter and this cold. Hope you all make it through! Also, I was wondering if "Labels for Education" is the same as box tops. My son was noticing them on some groceries and since we homeschool we don't have a need for them and I thought about your kids' school, but wasn't sure if they were the same thing or not. Sorry for the long windedness! Hope that all made sense.

    1. Most schools collect both kinds of labels. We sure do! :)

      And love this: " All the things that love is described as in the Bible are descriptions of our God. "

  11. Robert is so lucky to have you for his parents; just so blessed. As are you to have him. But the three of you already knew that. It helps to think of love not as something you feel, it's something you do. Faith, same thing.

  12. well. i am smitten with you. and yes. i wish so badly we could have a bottle of those feelings, those ones that made us crazy. but i'm banking on something better. i'm banking on a gigantic bucket of feelings by the age of ninety, which i'll grip with gnarled wrinkly old fingers and kiss on a wrinkly cheek and know--THIS, honey, this is why we held on. for this, right here.

  13. ooooohhhhh.
    I love it when you write like this.
    and yeah, we don't get our worship on. =)
    (i totally get you and all your cryptic references.)

  14. Regarding the case you haven't discovered it is Sean's sister's blog & she has 2 posts recapping the weekend :)

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  16. the wedding was dreamy…i cried. shocker. :)
    i wanted to stand up at the end and do a back flip…Jesus' name was lifted up and glorified on ABC through the bachelorette. whooooooooooooo hoooooooooooooooot!

    hopefully, you'll be able to watch it this weekend. surely, they'll unlock it!

    love that robert is asking hard questions…love that you don't know all the answers.
    love that he trusts you guys enough to ask….praying for him as he opens himself up to loving and trusting Jesus more and more. he's on a beautiful journey…

    praying for y'all..that you don't ever feel the need/responsibility to pick it all up….praying you keep trusting and knowing that Jesus started robert's journey when he was knit together in his mom's womb. i know you know this..but it sure is hard to remember when the hard questions come.

  17. If you have a newer tv - like last 5 years you can get a pretty good antenna at Walmart and get the local channels in - you can probably get them better than us since you live in a city. I think we paid $30 for our RCA one - it's like a small flat box and a cord - we can get cbs, abc, nbc, and fox most of the time for free. We watch everything else on netflix - on a good day we can even get the bps channels - which includes Pbs kids.

  18. Introduced recently to your blog. As a korean-adoptee, along with a twin sister, I love your honesty about the journey your son is going on about his own adoption experience. A few years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Seoul, Korea and visit the orphanage from which I was adopted from. An experience and desire I've had since I was a very young girl. Now, at the age of 39, wife and mother to 5 amazing sons, I continue my journey through this. I will say this- my desire to know my birth mother is still there, however, it has never had anything to do with the quality of parenting I had. I will say that my adopted parents are amazing and wonderful. God placed this desire on my heart but never my sister's. Stay encouraged that you are exactly the mom God needed your children to have. Their gaps will look different just as my own children's gaps will look different. God knows those needs and will fill them. Would love to share more. Contact me if you'd like.

  19. Oh my goodness! You like the Lowes!!! You like the Bachelor!!!!!! Sorry - I'm way behind on this. Just now reading your blog (and loving it). You like the Bachelor!! Woohoo!