All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you. I never had a selfless thought since I was born. I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through: I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.
Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek, I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin: I talk of love —a scholar's parrot may talk Greek— But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.
Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack. I see the chasm. And everything you are was making My heart into a bridge by which I might get back From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.
For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains You give me are more precious than all other gains.
- As the Ruin Falls - by C.S. Lewis
Oh! How this poem speaks to the very core of me! I'm naturally such a very selfish person. There's not a day - probably not a moment - when I do not have a selfish thought. Even when doing what would seem to be an unselfish thing, I often wonder who's looking, who will notice, what kind of credit or reward I will get for it. It's pitiful really.
But marriage ruins us, doesn't it?
I mean, it takes us right out of our comfort zone. We have to learn the skill of compromise. We get to learn how to truly think of the other person's needs ahead of our own. And that just destroys us. In marriage, I get the opportunity to become unselfish - more so than in any other situation on this planet. Then add in kids, and I get even more chances to be selfless. Add in conflict, marital struggles - even more opportunity to be ruined, but with a great purpose. And it hurts. My, does it hurt sometimes!
Maybe, when Lewis wrote "The pains you give me are more precious than all other gains," he was simply echoing the writing of another poet from another time:
"Faithful are the wounds of a friend" Proverbs 27:6
How much more faithful, how much more precious, are even the worst hurts received by a spouse, when placed at the feet of Jesus in faith, as we continually endeavor to honor our covenant - not with our spouse, but with God Himself?
How much more faithful do we have opportunity to become?
And I think; just maybe that's the point.
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