Friday, May 1, 2009

The whispered voice of God through marriage

To start this blog off and to get my proverbial blogging juices flowing (it's been awhile...), I'm going to share with you something that I wrote three weeks into my marriage. I was sitting in Starbucks when I started contemplating the symbolic parallels between marriage and God's relationship with His children, and this piece was the result. God bless coffee shops and caffeine. :)

May 9, 2008

I have spent the last three days forging a new identity for myself, and it's been a lot to take in. On Tuesday night, the copies of our marriage certificate that I had ordered came in, so I made my way over to the Social Security Office on Wednesday to begin the name change process. At 2:20pm I checked in, and by 2:40pm I was walking out to my car bearing a sheet of paper declaring that my name was changed and that my new SS card would be arriving in two weeks. Twenty minutes to a new identity. Or at least the start of one. That's remarkable and somewhat terrifying. On Thursday, I took on the local DDS to get a new driver's license. Once again, the speed of the whole process was astounding. In less than a half hour, I had a new picture ID in my hand. The name change was complete. I'm not Natasha Anne Lehman anymore, you guys. I'm now Natasha Anne Young. I am no longer under my father. I belong to Jason now. And then this afternoon I drove to the Jackson County Tag Office to get the title of my car transferred over to me and to register my car in Georgia. I have a Georgia license plate sitting in my car right now waiting to be bolted to it, and part of me is nervous to make the switch. Along with my driver's license and getting registered to vote in Jackson County at the DDS, getting a new license plate for my car completes the shift in my residency. I am no longer a Wisconsin resident. I legally belong in Georgia now.

How does a person process so much change? It's tempting to say that the essence of “me” has not changed...that only my external identifiers have, but I don't think that's entirely true. After all, how do we as human beings categorize each other? Are not our names and locations two of the most personal pieces of information we can give about ourselves? It struck me at some point today how beautifully analogous this all is to spiritual transformation. Y'all know how enamored I am with symbols, so thinking this through this afternoon has totally thrilled me. Is it not true that when we come to Christ, a new creation is formed? Our original nature is not modified or simply externally renamed. On the contrary, we are reborn! Something completely new and brilliant takes its first breath the moment Christ comes in. We are given a new and true name. And do we not change residence at the same time? Do we not instantly cross over from the dominion of darkness and sin to the light and redemption? So then, just as my spiritual identity and residence changed on April 20th, 2000, my earthly identity and residence changed on April 19th, 2008. And both are irrevocable. There is no going back. My allegiance is completely changed. Just as Christ is my focus and point of reference, so too is Jason in a more limited and earthly way. I am terribly in love with the parallels here. The concept of throwing away an old identity to take on a brand new one is terrifying in itself, but somehow the wonder of it's implications are too overwhelming for me to be frightened. Jason has given me his name as Christ has. I keep visualizing this as being instantly wrapped in the height and strength of someone else. I have been “big” my whole life, and taking Jason's name is allowing me to reduce back down to my true and real size. My protection and well-being are not my load to bear anymore. I am resting under the shelter of someone else. Having Jason's name gives me such an intense sense of security and belonging. I am CLAIMED! And not only that, but I am claimed BY HIS OWN CHOICE!

This is so spiritually rich for me. Is this not what Christ has done? Has He not given me His name, whereby claiming me as His own because it delighted Him to do so? My dad adopted my brother and myself when I was young, and God certainly has used that to speak to me about His adoption of me; but taking Jason's name through marriage and starting this journey of committed oneness with him has taken me to a height of understanding of my relationship with Christ that I didn't have before. And I think the main reason for that is because, whereas Dad's adoption of me gave me an amazing and humbling picture of God as my Father, I now have been given a front-row seat to understand God as a Lover and the Romancer of my soul through Christ. I am so terribly awed at how good God has been to me in how He has provided such a clear picture of this through Jason. I am not exaggerating when I say that Jason is, by far, the most Christ-like man I have ever met. He may be private and shy, but the selflessness with which he loves me has probably had the biggest positive impact on my correct understanding of Christ, an impact bigger than anything else I've encountered in my Christian walk these last eight years. Who am I that God would bless me like this?? Not only has God met my desires in Jason, but He has also opened the door on the road to my greatest growth in holiness and understanding of God. Isn't that what marriage was created for? To teach us about God (specifically about His covenantal love and the unity within the Trinity) and to provide us with a prime environment for sanctification? I AM SO BLESSED!!!

Submission is an interesting thing. Jason and I are awkwardly learning the delicate dance of leadership and submission, and it's been teaching me A LOT about myself, in particular my attitude toward God. I am about as stubborn and willful as they come, and I can remember one night in particular when Jason called me on something that he needed to for my good and for the good of our marriage; and, even though I almost immediately recognized that I was in the wrong, I could not get myself to submit to his gentle but firm admonition. As I listened to his loving and unyielding persistence, I felt my respect for him climbing and I desperately wanted to submit and be restored to him, but there was a part of me that had its heels dug in. For a few minutes, I was completely shut down with my back to him. I eventually was able to humble myself, but it left me exhausted. And then Jason gave me yet another reason to respect him. Instead of lording himself over me and continuing to point out my sin, he compassionately forgave me and let me know how much he loved me. I have so many amazing reasons to love this man. Isn't this whole scenario – sin and gentle admonition, stubborn refusal to submit and patience, humble repentance and grace – a clear picture of our struggle with the flesh and God's unyielding persistent love? In reflecting on this situation later, I realized how often I do this very thing with God. It has given me a lot to think about.


You know, as I read this, it hits me how far I still have to go in my relationship with Jason. I'd like to tell you that I'm in a completely different place than I was a year ago, but I can still see myself in these struggles. And it makes me think that maybe our natural desire to fix things NOW and be done with it is not consistent with God's character, despite the urge we feel to be holy completely. Somehow, He has ordained it so that growth in holiness cannot happen without a lot of concerted effort on our part.

Oh that we could learn to embrace the glory of the process instead of giving up when our initial attempts seem to fail.

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