The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.

I'm Starting With the (Wo)Man in the Mirror (Oh, Yeah)

The last two Sundays at my church have been powerful and scary and wonderful. Something big is changing in our hearts. God is working.

Last Sunday, our preacher, Tim, spoke on marriage. It seems that there are quite a few marriages in our congregation that are on the verge of divorce, and he felt a public statement was necessary. His point was basically that these marriages are falling apart for selfish reasons, and that since couples get married in a public, church setting, the church as a whole needs to make healthy marriages a priority. Not that we need to gossip and be in each other's business; in fact he was very careful to condemn such behavior. But that we will hold spouses accountable for their actions toward one another, and won't sweep it under the rug and pretend it isn't happening. Not to judge or condemn, but to encourage marriage as a spiritual-growth issue, not just a romantic-love one. Which is pretty convicting in itself.

One statement he made has really stuck with me, though. He talked about how many couples, Christian and otherwise, live in a state of "negotiated estrangement". That phrase won't get out of my head. Here's why.

For a while now, I've been thinking about getting rid of my TV. It's just a thought that was playing in the back of my head. I've lived without one before, and while I always did get to the point of wanting one again, those times were not terrible. In the wake of Katrina, I've hated that I'm somewhat limited in what I can do to help. Some money, some clothes and books, some time after work. What else? I have no savings from which I could make a larger donation. I don't really have any assets. The most valuable thing in my apartment is my TV. I was already thinking about ditching it. Now I'm thinking, specifically, about either donating it to our church's furniture-collecting efforts (if they want it), or selling it and donating the money to the Red Cross.

Then, last Sunday morning in class (before the sermon), our group talked about alone. What the dangers are of cutting ourselves off from others, and on the other end, what are the dangers of filling ourselves so full of others that we don't have an independent existence. I am very jealous of my down time. I try to reserve at least one evening a week (usually Thursday) just for myself. I don't go out, I don't invite anyone over, I usually won't even answer my phone. This time, theoretically, is for me to enjoy my own company, some quiet away from the chaos of my friends. But that morning I realized that those nights are now just an excuse to watch TV or movies. I'm not using the time to pray, meditate, journal, or do any other activity with myself that will advance my spirituality. Not that watching TV is in itself a problem. But it has definitely become a distraction. So, yet another reason to give it up.

And before I sound too self-righteous, I do have two crutches: my computer will play DVD's, so I can veg out from time to time, and my parents have a DVR, which I have already set up to record my favorite shows. So I'm not giving up watching TV entirely, just owning one.

So then during Tim's sermon, I got to thinking about my life as a single woman. I'm not dating anyone, much less married, so the state of my marriage is a moot point. I am, however, a bride of Christ. Whether or not I ever do get married, I have an intimate, personal relationship with God. I realized, as Tim described husbands and wives who live in cold, lifeless homes, that my relationship with Jesus looks a whole lot like those negotiated estrangements.

It's not a passionate hatred of God or faith, but it's not a passionate love of Him, either. I spend more time and energy on the most casual acquaintance than I do in prayer, Scripture, or any spiritual discipline. I take God for granted, like an unappreciative wife. And the worst thing is, I know it's completely one-sided. For, unlike an earthly marriage, I know that He has never tired of me, never ignored me, never taken me for granted, never turned away. I know that any time I turn to Him, He will be waiting with open arms, patient and kind and just as obsessed with me as ever. The "negotiated estrangement" I'm feeling is all my own doing.

Yesterday, Tim picked back up in our study of John, and spoke on John 12 - a chapter that describes why people chose not to follow Jesus. Some, even though they saw His miracles and heard Him speak, just didn't believe it. Some, though, did believe, but were afraid. Not on a deep spiritual level, but on an incredibly shallow, vain, prideful level - they were afraid of what the other people would say about them. They cared more for the praise of man than the praise of God. I can say mean things about them, because I am one of them.

Why do I live my life the way I do? I dress nicely because I'm vain. I spend more money than I should on CD's and books because I'm shallow and selfish. I watch TV all the time because I'm lazy. I buy lots of good food because I'm a glutton. I waste time thinking about boys because I'm lustful. I think mean thoughts because I'm petty and jealous. I don't work as hard as I should because I'm not as compassionate towards my clients as I should be. The list goes on, but you get the picture.

I'm really struggling, this week, with how to make some major changes in my mindset, and then in my life. I think getting rid of the television is a start. As is another go-through of my closet, for more clothes to take to Graceworks. And redoubling my determination on some of these court cases.

And getting back in the word and in prayer. Obviously, you might think, but you'd be wrong. This is an area I struggle with almost more than any other.

I am on a new leg of this journey. I know I'm not the only one. Now try to get that Michael Jackson song out of your head.

6 Responses to “I'm Starting With the (Wo)Man in the Mirror (Oh, Yeah)”

  1. # Blogger Phil

    Maybe you should preach instead of me...  

  2. # Blogger Al

    Wow...great post. I've missed the last two lessons because I've been out of town. Sounds like it's time to order the tapes for my car. Thanks for the recap and peaking my interest!  

  3. # Blogger amanda

    wow. what a powerful post. and to think that i was just about to jet off to Tower this afternoon to treat myself to a couple of cd's i've been wanting. i think my $$$ could be better spent.
    i hate that i missed yesterday's lesson thanks to the darlings in the nursery, however duty called.  

  4. # Anonymous Anonymous

    I haven't talked to you in years (remember me?), but Reagan has your blog on her blog, so i read it all the time. So, despite what you know, i'm all caught up on your life...or at least your blog life.
    I had to reply to your posting because i know exactly how you are feeling. I've felt like this for some time, but have been far too lazy to actually address it. Please know that I'll be praying for you as I try to improve my prayer life and spend more time with God in quiet.
    Thank you for your words!!  

  5. # Blogger Tiffany

    Katie! I'm so glad you posted! I know a lot of people deal with this (we've had several go forward the last two Sundays!), but I think everyone has to come to these realizations for him- or herself.

    I hope you and Brian are doing well! Definitely come back again!  

  6. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Wow! What a great post! I was randomly on your blog and I thought it was great. It's funny, because what you wrote about is the same thing that I have been struggling with. It always helps to know that we all struggle with the same things and that we are not alone.

    Thanks and keep up the awesome blogging!  

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