17 July 2007

Knowing the Bridegroom

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. (Matt 25:10-12)
So it's been awhile since I've written a more serious entry, for reasons which should be obvious. But since my mind insists on formatting every thought I have into a blog entry, I guess I better recommit myself to the blogosphere.

One thing that I realized on my study abroad trip was the metaphors in the scriptures are anything but accidental. For one of our devotionals in England, I wrote a talk on why the scriptures refer to Christ as the light of the world. The implications of that metaphor are astounding to me. (I plan on revising that talk over the next few days to post on Blogger of Jared. Keep an eye out for it.) But the metaphor that's been snagging my mind lately is Christ as the bridegroom and ourselves as the bride, again for obvious reasons.

The lesson in Relief Society this week was "Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods before Me" from the Spencer W. Kimball manual. Our discussion veered off on the interesting tangent of how we can grow to love God more. As we listed all the typical answers, it struck me how apt it is to compare our relationship with Christ or God to a marriage. It seems from my limited experience that there are two ways we spend time with a spouse. The first is the process of life--buying groceries, looking over the weekly calendar, picking each other up from work, running errands, getting stuff done. The second is the specially set-aside time, time we make away from the work-a-day mill to spend with each other, the weekly dates the Church so frequently councils us toward. One isn't better than the other; both are necessary for a healthy relationship.

How well these two elements apply to our relationship with God! God is to be part of our everyday actions. We must be listening to spiritual promptings and doing the 'errands' of our spiritual lives--our scripture reading, our prayers--in His presence. Yet equally important is setting aside weekly time to meet with God, to commune together without an agenda of getting things done, just listening and talking and repairing our relationship.

How many of us can say we set aside time for a weekly 'date' with God, though? In my life at least, there's often much emphasis on relying on Him in my daily actions--the Spirit is my support through the day--and not enough of simply getting to know Him better. Much of my time with God seems about incidental convenience. Blogging time double-counts as pondering time. Writing in my journal is following the prophets as well as creating material for my honors thesis project. I can learn all sorts of spiritual things while also getting paid to work on the footnotes for the next volume of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley. (Now they pay me to be obsessed with him. Yay!)

I'm not saying such double-counting is bad. God's presence should permeate our lives like light. But it gets to be a problem when I have a hard time thinking of that last time I did something to commune with God without the ulterior motivation of being productive elsewhere. That kind of relationship is exhausting. When George and I went through a few days doing nothing but working and planning wedding stuff, my ability to give and feel love was severely impaired. Without downtime in any relationship, you simply forget why you are doing things. And lack of downtime in my relationship with God leads me to forget why I push through the 'errands' of spirituality.

Another question is this: what do you do with one-on-one time with God? Unfortunately, I can't take God down to the Malt Shoppe for two-for-one Mondays. For me, the answer to alone time with God is prayer. At FHE, we discussed Elder Scott's conference talk on prayer, and this phrase from the "How Should You Pray?" section stuck out to me:
Don’t worry about your clumsily expressed feelings. Just talk to your compassionate, understanding Father. You are His precious child whom He loves perfectly and wants to help. As you pray, recognize that Father in Heaven is near and He is listening.
That description of open communication, without worry about clumsy phrases or entertaining the listener, is exactly the type of communication that ought to exist between spouses. That willingness to say whatever comes to mind, to talk about anything, everything, nothing, is exactly the way I feel when I talk with George. Prayer ought to be the kind of talk that comes of lying in a hammock with someone you love, staring at sky through the tangled leaves, where all life suddenly comes open, and in that instant you can fix problems that have taken years to form, or doing anything really. It's so vast yet personal--overwhelming to me.

1 comment:

Cathryn said...

This is beautiful, Liz. Thanks for teaching by example. :)
I feel silly throwing out another "seminary answer," but for me, I feel like time spent in the temple is one of the best ways I can really commune with God. Even in the often-noisy baptistry, I have the chance to say, "I'm not focusing on anything but you right now, Lord. This is our time. What would you have me do?"
Hmm. I think I'll go blog about this now, or at least what this has got me thinking about...
Thanks again for the post. It's a good reminder. :)