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Why It’s Good to Wrestle with Your Spouse

Lindsey and I have been married for seven years now. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but God is growing us closer together than I ever imagined possible.
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But it hasn’t always been this way…

Lindsey and I talked about this topic yesterday and had a HUGE heart-to-heart a couple of nights ago and I can’t help but tell you about it now, because the lesson I am learning is life-changing.

It is good to wrestle!

I never knew that before.  I didn’t know that it was okay and even HEALTHY to wrestle with her.  So now, we lock arms and go toe-to-toe.  We grab each other by the hair and we grapple and toss each other around the room in heated passion.

Okay, maybe not.  Not exactly. But my name is Steve Austin and I have heard the jokes about my name for the past thirty-one years, so why not?

But seriously, it is good to wrestle!

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I remember being in a “Nearly and Newly Married” Sunday School class at the church we were attending while engaged to be wed.  I think they must throw engaged couples into the class with the newly marrieds and the older married couple that is teaching the class to do their best to scare you out of the decision!  I remember Lindsey and I getting in the car after nearly every time with that class and being appalled at the way the people talked about their guy or gal!  Any time we would split up the guys and the girls, several of the guys would talk about their “other half” like it was the worst thing in the world to deal with them!  Apparently the girls were just as bad: gripe and growl about their man.

For the first several years of our marriage, we were so stuck on “pleasing” one another and doing things different from what we had seen with our own parents, we both held so much inside and buried it down deep.  We never wrestled.  We never ripped our shirts and smashed beer cans on our heads and jumped from the top rope.  We never screamed and yelled.  We never foughtWe barely argued.

People thought our life together was absolutely perfect. I wouldn’t go back to that place for all the gold in the world.

Wrestle1

We could learn a lot about relationships from the rules of wrestling (italics are mine).

Wrestling Terminology:

  • 1) Takedown: Points are scored for taking your opponent down to the mat.  If we would hit our knees together in prayer more often, we would view our spouses less as opponents and more as partners.
  • 2) Escape: You score one point for getting away or getting to a neutral position when your opponent has you down on the mat. Sometimes the best thing is to take time to “cool down”, but it is never okay to have something that serves as your “escape” from your family.  If you feel the need for a constant “escape”, you may have something you need to wrestle about.
  • 3) Reversal: You score two points when your opponent has you down on the mat and you come from underneath and gain control of your opponent. You will not always “win” the argument and that’s okay.  The point isn’t “winning or losing” in the confines or marriage; the goal is mutual understanding and respect of one another’s views.
  • 4) Near Fall: You get near fall points when you almost but not quite get your opponent pinned. This is my favorite one.  How many “near falls” have you had?  I’ve had one major near fall and so has Lindsey.  I’m thankful that His perfect grace empowered and compelled us to wrestle through it and stay together.  God will give you what you need at the exact moment you need it, but you may have to wrestle him for it, too.  (See the story of Jacob.)
  • 5) Penalty Points: Your opponent is awarded points if you commit the following infractions.  Just like in wrestling, there is protocol that must be followed in marriage.  You can only wrestle within the confines of the mat and there are rules that should be followed to make the match (or the marriage) safe for each participant.
      • Illegal Holds: There are several holds that the referee will penalize you for without warning. (There are other holds called “potentially dangerous holds” which the referee might make you let go of but will not penalize you for).  Each marriage is different, just like each person is different.  Only you can decide what is an “illegal hold” for you.  I believe that is why the Bible says, “The marriage bed is undefiled.”  If you are both comfortable with what you are doing, GO FOR IT!  Have fun!  Life it up!  Make love!  But you should both mutually agree on what the “illegal holds” are and agree to keep them out of your bed.
      • Fleeing the mat: In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with leaving the house, but the #1 rule should be that as you are leaving, you say, “I am leaving, but I will be back”.  Sometimes you have to take that “cool down” session in order to show your significant other the mutual respect and understanding that he or she deserves
      • Locked or overlapped hands: If you are down on the mat in control of your opponent, you cannot lock or overlap your hands, fingers or arms around your opponent’s body or both legs unless you have met criteria for a near pin of your opponent.  Don’t kick them when they’re down.  We all go through seasons and have tough times.  Choose your battles and your timing wisely.
      • Reporting to the mat not properly equipped or not ready to wrestle: To use a little “Christianese”, don’t show up to a wrestling match if you aren’t prayed up.  If you haven’t wrestled with God first, you may want to reconsider wrestling with your spouse.
      • Flagrant Misconduct: Ejection, the match is over.  Again, only you and your “better half” can decide what counts as “flagrant misconduct”.  No one else can tell you to leave him or leave her.  You have to make that decision on your own after a whole lot of wrestling with God.

And as a side note: People will watch your marriage.  People will judge your marriage.  People will typically always believe a rumor before they believe the truth, but there is nothing in this world that matters less than the opinion of an ignorant fool and there is nothing in this world that matters more than what you have in your intimate relationship with your partner.  If someone isn’t sleeping with you, then their opinion REALLY doesn’t matter.

My wife and I have been through Hell and back and still have to face the gossip and criticism of others, but we continue to wrestle with God and one another and we know that this marriage has been blessed by God and that nothing in this world will ever tear us apart.

I love you Lindsey Austin.  This one’s for you:

*Overview of Wrestling Rules from wvmat.com

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Our Daughter’s Birth: A Lesson in Grace

Standing in the ultrasound room recently with my bride, my little boy, my mother-in-law, and our precious friends Zane and Hannah was (as Zane put it) “surreal”.
Our Daughter's Birth: A Lesson in Grace

Toes, fingers, ears, eyes, lips, so many details…Ribs were clearly seen and I was fascinated with the baby’s spine.

The anticipation was high, waiting to hear if it was pink or blue, but we were also very thankful for all the other measurements they were doing, to make sure our baby is as healthy as possible.

“See that right there?  It’s a girl!”

Total elation.  Of course I cried. I saw bows and frillies and pinks and purples and yellows and polka dots and explosions of lace and Minnie Mouse and oh my gosh I am going to have a daughter!!!

In the moment, I completely forgot about our experience with Ben’s birth. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced.  Doctors and nurses in space suits.  A big plastic mat on the floor, the size of a whitewater raft, tools and lines and needles and tears and “OH MY GOSH….you want me to do what?  Look where?  Do you KNOW what’s going on down there? No thanks, I’m fine right here.  I’m a good hand holder.”

Talk about a mess!

It was overwhelming and there was this SMELL I will never forget. The whole thing was enough to make a dude lose his appetite for days.

But then…

Then I saw a head, then a shoulder, arms and in the blink of an eye the doctor was holding a perfect, crying, baby boy. Still messy, but perfect in my eyes.

When they laid him in my arms, I immediately knew I would run in front of a train for him. I’d never met him, but I knew I would kill or be killed for him. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for this tiny baby boy. I didn’t even realize that I had quickly and completely forgotten the mess he was and the mess he made.

Isn’t that just like Grace? Grace hears our cries of desperation, wraps comforts us, and forgets everything else. It’s as if it never happened. I pray that Grace captures you and bulldozes the walls you have built today.

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Why I Want my Little Boy to Fail

Working in the public school setting the past several years has made me aware of many things:

  • lunchroom food sucks (but if you get in good with the lunchroom ladies…they’ll hook you up)
  • schools are dirty…I wash my hands until they’re cracked and chapped
  • sneak in the women’s bathroom…it is always cleaner
  • parents don’t want their children to fail

Let’s talk about that last one today.

I want my little boy to grow up knowing some success and some failure. I want him to be familiar with achievement and disappointment. I do not want my child to grow up in a bubble, never knowing struggles and never hearing the word “no”. I do not want my five-month-old to be raised like so many kids I know, thinking that life will be handed to him on a silver platter, that everyone deserves a trophy, and that everyone gets an “A”.

That’s not real life.

” I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise. We don’t just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you. We pray hard that it will all come together in your lives.
2 Corinthians 13:4-6

Failure opens up many opportunities for conversation. 

I think failure gives us more of a chance to talk than if we were always #WINNING at everything.

So how should we deal with failures?  What do we do about shortcomings? How do we respond when those we care about miss the mark? When our imperfections become public knowledge…then what?

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
Matthew 7:1-3

  • Acknowledge a failure. The truth will set you free.
  • Give grace once the shortcoming has been recognized.  A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

“If you’ve never failed, you’ve never lived.”

LIFE=RISK

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Trust the Carpenter

My Dad is a carpenter. A handy man.  Mr. Fix-it.  He really can do anything. If it’s broken, my Dad will figure out how to mend it.

When Lindsey and I started planning to convert the home office into Baby Benjamin’s room, one of the first things we mentioned was new flooring.  The flooring that we had was “hand-me-down” flooring from my parents.  They got new flooring in their home and when Lindsey and I bought this house, as broke newlyweds, we didn’t have money for new flooring, so Mom and Dad passed down their old stuff to us.  It was better than what we had!

Now, the old flooring in our upstairs is about fifteen years old and it is beyond time for new carpet.  A coffee stain in one place, a red wine stain in another, it’s beyond fixable.  We bought a steam cleaner once and tried to remove the dirt and grime on our own, but some stains are so deep that you just can’t do it by yourself.

When we realized it was time to change the flooring in Ben’s room, I considered doing it myself, possibly with the help of a friend or two.  Why?  Because I’ve never been able to do any sort of manual labor or handy man work very well.  Once I came to my senses, I realized that was foolish, when all I have to do is ask my Dad to fix it or replace it and he will.

Even though my Dad is a busy guy: fireman, paramedic, plumber, hunter, mechanic, and carpenter, he still made time for me.

We started by pulling up the old floor.  It had to go.  It was worthless.  Stained, stinking, and saturated with filth.  We pulled it up and threw it out to the trash heap.  Once the old was gone, we swept up, getting rid of any trace of the old stuff.

And this afternoon and evening, as I stood back, of no real help, watching my Dad replace my floor, I had to fight back some emotion.

The carpenter was in my home, fixing, repairing, and replacing what I could not do on my own.  In my own strength, I was incapable.  But it was almost as if He seemed even more “cool”, even more capable, even more skilled, due to my lack.  He could fix and replace what I could not do for myself.

Isn’t that just like Jesus?

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