blessed by: JPUSA men

Posted: August 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

There is a lot of less-than-inspiring marriage behavior to see in this culture, whether in the media or in social settings or even in public places like restaurants, airports, etc. 

At the most innocuous end of the spectrum is the vast quantity of people who appear to be taking each other for granted – people who are too distracted by the business of everyday life to stop and really take note of, honor, celebrate, and enjoy their spouses. 

A little darker on the spectrum is the great mass of those brimming with snark, resentments, and/or general passive aggressive baloney toward their spouses. 

And then, there are the toxic couples who make the world around them uncomfortable, irritated, sad or even afraid as they wage war upon each other in various and inappropriate ways. 

All of that can be discouraging to the single person trying to hold on to hope of ever being in a happy marriage.  Can make one wonder if any such animal as a truly “happy marriage” even exists, or is just the cousin of the yeti and the loch ness monster. 

One of the best surprises for me, when I lived at JPUSA, was the great gift of watching JPUSA marriages.  While I will not pretend that every marriage that I observed while living there was a fountain of inspiration…dude…an ASTONISHING number of them were/are.  I saw people who were not taking one another for granted.  Who didn’t sit around making snide comments about their spouse in the guise of being funny.  People who lit up when they spoke of their spouses – whose eyes catching each other across a room were a visible testimony of devotion and deep attraction.  People whose words and touches with one another were unashamedly tender, even with the world milling around them.  That’s a high level of trust and safety, both in the relationship of the marriage and that with the greater community around them. 

I saw men serving their wives without reservation or rancor, and women open like the most beautiful flowers because of it.  I witnessed the absence of power struggles.  I saw couples honoring each other even more than their focus on their kids (and it is so easy to forget about the marriage priority, when parenting fills our world.) 

I saw how tender Amanda’s face got, every time she spoke of her Andrew to me.  I saw Steffie go all soft and almost aflutter when her Lee walked into the room.  I watched Skot tell the whole room, day after day, what an incredible, drop-dead gorgeous knockout his Rachel was as she would sit with a demure but contented smile.  None of these people were newlyweds – not even close.  Heck, I even heard the sheer pleasure and joy in Marguerite’s voice as she told and re-told the story of the first time she ever danced with her Ron, back in their young days, still clearly fresh in her emotions even as she prepared to retire. 

I watched it all and it was everything I have ever wanted.  It was what I have been holding out for, all these years by myself.  It was strong testimony that marriages formed in faith and following God’s design for relationships are richer and sweeter than the temporary-but-damaging indulgence of doing things according to current popular culture.  I began to hope that some day, after my year-of-no-relationships to which I had committed for my first beginnings in the community…MAYBE someday I too could have a marriage like that.  Maybe I could be one of those peaceful, satisfied women and I could pour out my life for some man who loved me well and Jesus even more.  Even after I left, that strong impression of what I had seen for my nine months there went with me, and I resolved I would reach for that kind of marriage, or contentedly die single.  No compromise. 

When Gary and I first started to get together a full nine months after I had left the community, we immediately decided that we would each seek wise counsel and accountability.  Hearing about just two of the many men whose advice Gary sought made me excited. 

One was Skot, who I had seen almost daily at work, adoring and building up Rachel.  I had commented one day over lunch to them how much I enjoyed that.  “Oh, you’ll get tired of it and tell me to knock it off, sooner or later,” Skot had smiled.  But I never did.  I was so encouraged by watching them.  How could Gary get anything but good counsel from this man?

Another was Honz, who, hearing about our relationship forming, had quickly given Gary this concise and wise direction:  “Your job is 3 things.  Make her happy.  Protect her purity.  Keep her focused on God.”  I was unsurprised but deeply moved by this counsel, and I have noticed Gary pursuing all 3 points of that agenda pretty much every time we’ve interacted since then. 

I could go on with JPUSA stories like this all night.  Could name enough names and details to make you dizzy.  But I will stop here and just say:  I am so grateful for all of the JPUSA men who have given me such great hope that following the Lord’s (often very counter-intuitive) ways can result in the reward of all the wonderful things that seem to be missing in our 50+% divorce rate world.  None of them are perfect.  But many of them have demonstrated before my very eyes:  love is not dead and marriage is not an antiquated, irretrievably broken institution.  It can be so much more. 

Thanks, guys, for letting God use you to give me (and surely many others) hope. 


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