A Lesson From the Heathens (Irreconcilable Differences)

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I watch Super Bowl halftime shows like one might study for the Bar Exam, because I like my music the way I like my food: a smorgasbord of flavors. Halftime shows provide an over-the-top medley of songs you would never normally hear together (complete with lights and dancing); it’s a collaboration of different genres and dissimilar schools of musical style on one stage giving me the audible ice cream sundae I crave.

My all-time favorite Super Bowl halftime mashup still goes to Bruno Mars and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Can we just relive it please?

Bruno and his Motown band were killing it on their own with the groovy Jackson Five throwback feel, the brass horns, and the energy. Up to this point, my enjoyment level was already at a high but then he starts repeating the “Give It Away Now” chorus while still in his style of music and I know what’s coming! The pressure builds, the tone sharply switches from Bruno to rock, and The Chili Peppers erupt onto the scene. Flea does his Flea thing with his head while Bruno sings backup for the seasoned Anthony Kiedis. Coordinated gold jackets and smooth choreography are intermixed with shirtless men that flail and jerk around to the beat of their own drum (literally). The two groups end their set jumping together in unison and I am one happy camper.

Which makes me think, marriages could take a lesson from the heathens.

No matter which two people you put together, you will always have irreconcilable differences and we have to stop thinking of them as the enemy and realize they’re what make us dynamic!

And I do mean ANY two people. Mat and I grew up in the same exact city (only a few miles apart), both in Christian houses that attended a Calvary Chapel, both from intact families, both with a brother and sister, and still marriage brought a tidal wave of culture shock.

Mat came from a family much like himself: ordered, scheduled, and structured. His stay-at-home mom ran life off meal plans and itineraries. I’ve always said his house was like an episode of Leave It To Beaver.

slider_2My mom worked a full time job and more. Order? Structure? Bahahahaha. Bless her heart, dinner was served nightly, but there was no telling when. My dad habitually hopped in the shower at exactly the moment we were supposed to be walking out the door and oversight was scarce. Burnt bread and love provided my only constants. Life had a real flex feel to it – something more akin to Malcolm in the Middle. You can imagine my face when Mat told me his personal rule was, “Five minutes early, is five minutes late.”

Needless to say, the Krych residence differed from the Grisez household. Neither better nor worse in this respect, just different. So when we became one, it was like two worlds colliding and we had to decide what to do with all this polarity. While we loved visiting one another’s alternate universe during dating, living together proved tricky.

We had what you would call irreconcilable differences. It plays out in a million different ways but here is a classic Mat and Jena scenario that serves as a tiny microcosm for our lives: the keys.

Since the beginning of time, I have lost my keys on a daily basis. This will continue to happen every single day for the rest of my life. Everyone knows a tribe member of mine; we’re everywhere. Chances are, if you aren’t one, you’re married to one. Strangely (by my estimation) responsible, Mat never loses his keys. No, really. Every day he sets his keys and wallet in the exact same place -a man of routine.

So Mat can choose to find me irresponsible and frustrating, or he can choose to love me as the free spirit he was attracted to in the first place. I was not built for practical purposes, I was built for fun – we all know this. He could make me feel bad about it, point out every inefficiency in my daily routine, live in an air of disdain and condemnation, or he could let me live with my own consequences (now I have to run around finding my keys) and simply sit back and enjoy the show. The second choice makes me feel winsome, the other makes me feel inept.

On the flip side, he can feel neurotic and nerdy and I can see him as an excessively detailed, antisocial hermit.  My other choice is to see him as a hardworking, totally employable provider that has given me the privilege of seeing into his well-guarded heart.

None of this is sin, it’s just irreconcilable. I can love the down-to-earth benefit he gives my space cadet life, and he can love that I keep him from arriving to the airport four hours before departure (this is a real issue). How we view one another is a choice we make daily and can all be summed up in a word: appreciation. Will I love you for it or hate you for it?

Listen, we picked one another for a reason, and the truth is, I would pick him all over again. I’ve been told generally people divorce one person only to find the same exact person, just in a different body. I’m always tickled to find myself in love with a new movie character because it’s always a Mat replica: an intense, tough, unafraid, closed book. Ahhhh, just the way I like ‘em.

And likewise, you may be feeling sorry for him right about now, but rest assured, I’m his type. So we choose to relish our differences. We choose to appreciate the other person for who they are. We choose to enjoy. And we continue to choose each other daily.

Irreconcilable differences? Oh sure. But not impossible and certainly nothing worth divorcing over. They’re just opposites. They are what we laugh about and where we fill in the gaps that the other person’s natural personality leaves holes. Differences cause us to see things in a new light; they pull us out of our comfort zone and teach us patience. They create moments and learning opportunities we would otherwise not have.  Mat and I NEVER see things the same way, so together we have a more complete view of scripture, parenting, marriage, and life.

Diversity is why we are better together than apart. Contrast is like having the sun and moon out at the same time. If we didn’t have it, one of us would be superfluous.

So the way I see it, if we play this just right, we should be like a good halftime show: lots of chaos and fun, disorderly order, clashing and complimenting, and some jumping around here and there.

Don’t fight it. You know you want to YouTube it. Truth is, for our marriage’s sakes, we probably should.

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