Some 1500 years ago, St. Benedict established a Rule to help guide his community of monastic Christ-followers. One of his precepts was this: “Always, we begin again.”
Part of understanding life and marriage is recognizing that our eternal souls reside in human bodies prone to sin. We don’t have to look far to see that the world is broken. Because we live in a fallen world full of broken people, just like us, we all repeatedly need to begin again.
Our marriage has benefitted from understanding that, “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). Daily we encounter our need for grace—both to give it and to receive it. We both make mistakes, misspeak, and misjudge so we do well to extend to each other a graceful permission to live in our own skin with all its weaknesses.
Thomas à Kempis argued that “a humble self-knowledge is a surer way to God than a search after deep learning.” Jesus had something to say about seeing our own brokenness. We call his wise words “The Beatitudes.” We don’t often associate blessing with brokenness, but he did when he spoke about being “poor in spirit” — so it certainly warrants consideration on our parts. Perhaps Jesus was saying something like this:
Fortunate are the ones who know they need glue: realizing they don’t have it themselves, they begin to look for glue.
Joyful are the ones looking for glue: they find it and discover that only glue can hold them together.
Content are the ones who know glue holds them together: they are satisfied with glue.
Favored are those satisfied with glue: they point others to the glue.
Devoted are those who point others to glue: they understand that glue has been working, and will continue to work, for a long time.
The glue is God’s love, God’s grace, God’s acceptance. As we begin this year, indeed as we begin each new day, our hearts need to be reminded that God’s love is a free gift offered to us in grace to bless our day. It is not dependent on our performance, our feelings, our achievements, or lack thereof.
God loves us with what Hannah Hurnard (Kingdom of Love, 1984) calls “a passionate absorbed interest.” God’s nature of unconditional love causes him to view us through his prism of love. What’s even more remarkable is that God’s love for us has nothing to do with our behavior.
As Christ-followers, we are God’s dearly loved sons and daughters: the object of God’s gladness and delight. As husband and wife, we are held together by God’s absolutely unconditional, unlimited and unimaginably extravagant love.
A love like this proves that God doesn’t just tolerate us, he treasures us and he doesn’t just watch over us, he welcomes us again and again. A love like this invites us to continually cherish one another, not just put up with each other. As we offer one another a renewable forgiveness, we are anchored by an enduring hope.
God can hold together what he has placed together. Even when we stumble, we can rest secure in the truth that to begin again is to train our hearts to live in grace. And so, again today, desperate for more glue, we stand together and watch it work.