A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

So Long... and Thanks for 40 Years?

Former US Vice President, Al Gore and his wife have gone their separate ways after 40 years of marriage.

When I hear something like that, my first thought is "why?" Needless to say I'm a busybody like most people but I was under the impression that when a couple reaches that kind of milestone, surely they would have worked through most of the usual marital kinks. Yes? No? All that effort of housetraining a man for 40 years... only to have to break in another.

Seriously though, it does beg the question... what would caues two people who have been together for so long to decide to call it quits. From all appearances, the marriage was happy and adultery doesn't appear to be an issue. So then having invested so much in the relationship over the years, building a life and then a family together, two people in the most intimate human relationship on earth then decide that it's all over and walk away?
Does 40 years count for nothing? Not that I'm saying that 40 is some kind of magic number but I didn't think marriage was like a career. Still, isn't a relationship of 40 years worth trying to save? Isn't there enough history there to want to make more history?

It is that I find depressing especially in view of my paltry 14 years.

Is there no hope for a couple that grows apart to find their way back to one another? To regroup and rebuild the relationship.
Isn't a lifelong marriage worth salvaging whatever the state of things?

Sometimes I wonder if we've (even those of us who value the marriage relationship highly) bought into the myth that passion is the goal of marriage. So when one no longer feels the passion -- it's over.

I'm sure someone will correct me if this view of marriage is too simplistic.

A few nights ago, while reading from Our Daily Bread, I was reminded of this all-important truth of "pressing on" from Paul's letter to the Philippians. While Paul wasn't referring to marriage in this letter, I think there's a vital truth here about perseverance that's disappearing from public discourse. Perseverance is gradually becoming an obsolete notion, belonging to a distant past. In an age of instant coffee and instant noodles, to persevere... to wait... to work hard over a period of time for success is countercultural.

A word that is synonymous with perseverance is endurance.

From dictionary.com, we note 4 related uses of the word:
1. the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
2. the ability or strength to continue or last, esp. despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina: He has amazing physical endurance.
3. lasting quality; duration: His friendships have little endurance.
4. something endured, as a hardship; trial. 
Endurance is a word rich in meaning... it's the sort of word that athletes use as they train their bodies into submission. But they do it because they are focused on a particular goal and they are willing to do what it takes to get there.

The Chinese word for endure is the word "ren". Basically, it is composed of two separate characters.

The top character is "dao" is the word for "knife" and the bottom character is "xin" which is the word for "heart".

Combining the two characters conveys the idea of endurance as something akin to cutting one's heart to the point of shedding blood. Observe the little extra splotch on the left hand side of the "dao" character.

I suppose there are no guarantees in life and not even when you are a follower of Christ. But we are exhorted to persevere because our calling is heavenly and our reward is eternal.

12 Not that I have already lobtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.  (Philippians 3:12-16, ESV)

I suppose it's easy to give up when you believe that this world is all there is. But if we believe that our lives have eternal significance then persevering in the face of trials makes a lot more sense. When eternity is the goal then 20, 30, 40 years is a mere drip in an ocean that knows no bounds.


  1. Hi Lilian, would love to send you an email but can't find an address here on your blog. Could you email me at editor@footprintsaustralia.com? Ta!

  2. Hi Lilian.

    I agree, somtimes I just wonder how it could be possible after so long. I've only been married for 10 years but we've grown sooo much in that time and chose to love eachother through everything. It makes us stronger together. I'm looking forward to the next 30 years. For us, it's only getting better!


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