Aunt Haley vs. Nathan Zacharias: My $0.02
(1) Zacharias is engaging in one-sided self-effacement. It came off as pedestaling to me, but then again, he may be doing this out of deference to his wife and perhaps his wife does the same thing with respect to him. But I sure hope he’s not thinking in terms of “She’s so much better than I am.”
If he acts that out, then he could be setting himself up for disaster. Husbands and wives need to have the temerity to provide and receive both positive and negative feedback. And because we’re all sinners, that includes her, too.
As someone who recently celebrated my second anniversary, I often say that she’s better than I deserve and she often says that I’m better than she deserves. And guess what? We are both correct! As singles, we had good lives: we had jobs, we had circles of friends, we had interests, we had a lot of involvement with our respective churches. But we each decided that we would be better off together than as singles.
(2) Haley is onto something when Zacharias says (emphasis mine), “Sarah and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary. She’s stuck with me 367 days, and that’s a miracle. No, seriously, it is.” Maybe it is a miracle, but–goodness–if the basic act of staying with one’s spouse is “miraculous”, then it is a pretty sad statement about marriage as a whole. Either that, or we throw the word “miracle” around way too much. Or both.
(3) Haley is nitpicking a bit much in some areas.
Zacharias says the following:
No longer can I focus on just caring for my needs. No longer can I get by with looking at a situation by how I see it.
[AH: Syntax doctor says what?]
When you’re single, you pretty much play by your own rules. You can go out any time you want, do whatever activities or hobbies you want, pick and choose events based on your schedule. I had the financial wherewithal to do a myriad of things without thinking of their implications when I was single.
Now that I am married, it’s like being in one of those sack races: we each have to consider each other when we make decisions. And, as with anything else, whenever you have more than yourself involved in a situation, you are wise to consider the ramifications on them before embarking on certain paths.
On this count, Zacharias is correct.
Instead, I look at it through her eyes, too. That means I see myself from her perspective. And I have to say, the view isn’t always pretty. That means I see myself from her perspective. And I have to say, the view isn’t always pretty.
I long to serve Sarah in any way, but that doesn’t mean that my selfishness doesn’t rear its ugly head often. There are plenty of times when I have to tell Sarah I’m sorry for something I did or didn’t do.
The ring on my finger and the vow in my heart sheds light on my negative traits often. And so when I tell people I don’t deserve Sarah, I’m not joking.
One thing I’ve opined about here–and at Boundless–is that being married will expose your sin in a way that does not as easily happen in singleness. It works for her; it works for him. There are times where my sin gets exposed; there are times where her sin gets exposed. It’s not so much a case of “it’s great to have a wife who holds me accountable” as much as “it’s great to be married and we each get humbled at times.”
Why Sarah chose me, I’ll never know. And as a I told someone close to me the other day, I deserve Sarah even less now than I did a year ago. But she loves me anyway.
Well, I know why MrsLarijani chose me: she decided that she would be better with me than without me. (I had arrived at the same conclusion about myself.) I’d like to think that–through sanctification–we are more worthy of each other now than we were two years ago. It will probably take another 70 years before we fully deserve each other–we’ll both be centenarians then–but hey, we’re in it for the long haul.
And yes, like Zacharias, I feel naked without my ring. I won’t say that life without the ring was “bare”, as much as I’d say that to revert to that life would be bare. Personally, I think Zacharias was thinking along those lines.
Now, when Haley says the following:
I know that it’s popular in evangelical circles to speak of everything in terms of being “sacrificial.” Sacrificial love, sacrificial serving, no one deserves anything, we’re all sanctified losers, boo hoo hoo, etc. But this just isn’t a healthy attitude to have in a functional, earth-bound relationship. Of course no one “deserves” anything; that’s a given. Humility and tolerance are important in a marriage for sure. But acting like those traits in a spouse are miraculous is a problem. Not all that long ago, those were expected in a marriage. That these are no longer givens but miracles just speaks to how weak marriage has become in America and in the American church.
I must agree on the premise that we throw around the word “miracle” way too much. People ascribe Tim Tebow’s NFL exploits as “miraculous”. Maybe they are; maybe they aren’t. Is he outperforming his apparent skills? On some levels yes. Would I call it an interruption of the natural order? No.
Would I call the way MrsLarijani and I got married a miracle? Yes. I say that in terms of the way it came down, and the timing that certain events came to pass.
Would I call the fact that we are happily-married after two years a miracle? That depends on how you define “miracle”. I guess one can say that everything from common grace to God’s work of sanctification are in fact “miracles”, I think the word gets muddied when we throw it around in those terms.
When we start taking the expectations that Christian ought to have–such as keeping marital vows–and call their execution “miraculous”, then we’re in territory that the Apostle Paul didn’t even venture into. Is that an overuse of the word “miracle”? Is it merely a statement about the sorry state of marriage even in Christian circles? Is it both?
If it is reflective of the sorry state of marriage, then the question is one of why should anyone get married? Perhaps the disciples were correct when, after Jesus admonished them about divorce and remarriage, they exclaimed, “”If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
Honestly, Zacharias came across as prostrating. At the same time, Haley needs to cut him a little bit of slack here.
I hope he has a more Biblically realistic view of his wife–he married a sinner, too, but I didn’t find anything about that in his reflection.
Still, there are areas–that Haley interprets as pedestaling–that are merely articulations of what happens in marriages. And it goes both ways.