In my telling of “My Story” I have been including various aspects about the reality that I have changed. My thoughts about religion have changed. My thoughts about marriage have changed. My thoughts about life have changed. These changes have not been small, they have been monumental, here’s what I mean.
The person that I was in 2010, while changing, was not the person I am here at the end of November 2016. Those changes affected not only me but also those around me, especially those who interacted with the old me and didn’t know what to make of the changes that I was going through.
So allow me to share some from my prayer back on December 5, 2015 (Month 9 Day 22). I began: Father, I am here. The Divine responded:
My son allow me to explain something: …you are slow, so slow.
That, sadly, I think, is the story of my life. While I might have decent grades and had other achievements in my educational life, I have been very slow to learn. Here’s what I mean.
I am not a slow learner, per se, but I am slow to change, slow to adapt.
There is a part of me that is unswervingly dedicated to what I understand. Without going into mind-numbing detail, the point is that when I am given something, I hold to it, unless I can be convinced that something else needs to be considered.
Take for example, the doctrine of monogamy-only. I was raised with that ideology. I call it ideology, because that’s all it is. Monogamy-only is a value, it is an attitude that underlies, undergirds, much of Christian culture. Monogamy-only might be argued through theological proofs, but that is done to support the ideology of monogamy only.
The earliest moment that I began to change my perspective regarding the ideology of monogamy-only was when I had to answer a biblical question about marriage. I had to answer the question. To answer the question meant reading the Scriptures for what the text says, not what I wanted it to say, or what anyone else said the text meant. In answering that question, I had to be honest about the Scriptures and its thoughts about marriage.
The issue is, many Bible teachers teach and otherwise instruct Bible students to take the Scriptures at face value. But many of those same Bible teachers will not maintain the face value of the text, because they interpret the text theologically, and infuse their interpretation on the text. Thus, they are teaching to take the text at face value, but they are not taking the text at face value because they infuse their theology into the text.
Take for instance Matthew 19.1-12. The face value is a discussion about divorce, Matthew 19.3 sets the foundation and tone for that discussion. Divorce is the discussion. Quite literally and powerfully, divorce is what is being discussed, by asking: is one permitted to get a divorce? That is face value of the passage, that reality is plain and simple.
What does that mean? It means that Matthew 19 is not prohibiting marital permissions like polygamy. It means that Matthew 19 is not enforcing monogamy-only, not even in the slightest.
Instead, the discussion is about permissions for, notice this, ending as in terminating a marriage through the means of divorce. That is all, and I mean a-l-l, that discussion is about.
That is such the actual case, that the disciples concluded: “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (Matthew 19.10 ESV). The disciples reinforce the discussion being about divorce, because they concluded that if a man could not divorce his wife, or if a man could only divorce his wife in a limited instance, then it would be better not to ever get married.
That means the disciples knew that the discussion was about divorce. If the disciples can know the discussion is about only divorce, then it means that we can know the same.
But instead, those who want to support the ideology of monogamy-only use Matthew 19, and then strip Jesus’ statement about Genesis from the context of the divorce discussion, then infuse their monogamy-only ideology upon the divorce discussion, and thereby infuse a theological perspective upon marriage being monogamy-only.
Over and again that is what I found, at best misapplication of the text, at worst misuse of the text, in order to substantiate a theological case to support the monogamy-only ideology.
Why? Because when one is surrounded by a culture that predominately practices monogamy-only, then that is what the teachers of the Scriptures are going to find within the Scriptures. Truth told, whether monogyny or polygyny, the Scriptures never declare how many women one man can have as wife. That is the truth, the Biblical truth.
So am I slow? Yes. You bet. Because it takes a tremendous amount of research to either deny or substantiate that which is being offered. I changed from monogamy-only because the Biblical evidence does not support it. So I was slow, excruciatingly slow, to incorporate that new found truth into my life.
So the Divine conveyed to me that I was slow. What was my response? In my prayer, I replied: What do you mean? The Divine responded:
What did you experience today?
To further reveal that I am slow, it took me some time to understand what the Divine was referring to.
In my journal, I made a brief note prior to my prayer, I wrote:
Took family photos today, it went really well.
That doesn’t express much, but it was a big deal to me. It was the first time, in I can’t recall how long, that I actually enjoyed being out and about with the family. That sounds negative, but perhaps I can mitigate that tone.
For me, family has never been easy, people, tension, disagreement, discord. In some ways that was my own marriage and experience with my own children. But it was the situation that I experienced most of my life.
Some of the greatest moments I have had with my wife and kids are when I am away from our respective families. The biggest reason for that is that each side expects everything to match their expectations, don’t match their expectations, then discord develops.
Why? Because the families never learned how to get along. Why? Because of the doctrines found within my religious heritage: the doctrine that carries the tone that we have harmony when everyone does the exact same thing.
As difficult as it is to express, there was no real latitude for personal differentiation. That temperament carried over into my marriage and my own family.
The very first time I had that challenged was when my daughter wanted to have a pair of jeans that went against my personal preferences. She was younger than ten. But the issue is that from an early age, she was challenging me on my own expectations.
I had to learn to flex. I had to learn how to let her become herself, not what I thought she should be. But only later in life, did I come to have the ability to recognize and articulate that which was happening.
And all of that perspectiveness and personal preferences and family expectations came to a tension point during the last five years, doctrinally. I was no longer agreeing with family, and I certainly am not agreeing with family regarding the permissions for marriage. So it has been difficult to say the least.
But on that day, that day we took photos, I was truly happy. I saw my family. All unique. Each person seemingly pleased with where they were.
I felt like I had accomplished something. Nothing tangible, but real, developing a family environment where they could be disciples but also individuals, people being encouraged to live their life, and to find their own answers.
In the prayer, how did I respond to the Divine’s inquiry? I replied with one word: Satisfaction. The Divine’s response?
Why has it taken so long?
During that prayer, I couldn’t understand the question, so I replied: What do you mean?
The Divine responded in a way I was not expecting, the Divine conveyed:
Consider this: a man goes to sleep, wakes up, goes to sleep, wakes up, goes to sleep, ad infinitum, repeat, repeat, repeat, wash, rinse, repeat, ad nauseam.
So the Divine gave me something I was to contemplate, and then described a process, a cycle, that repeats endlessly. After that, the Divine provided a question:
What is his life?
That is the question now isn’t it? The Divine didn’t even give me time to reply with my thoughts. The Divine continued:
Wasted. Never looked up, never looked down, never looked around.
When one is caught in the wash, rinse, repeat cycle of life, one doesn’t have time to look up, or around, or down. We call that the rat race, the daily grind, or the rut.
We feel stuck, incapable of doing anything else. We also feel that if we did something else, we’d be a failure, because somehow the ‘wash, rinse, repeat’ gives us meaning, even though ultimately it is vain. Consider how the Divine continued:
What’s his point in life?
Again, that is the question. The Divine continued:
Nothing. Mindless, droning, on and on.
That is a tough thing to accept. What did the Divine convey to me next?
You are that guy.
Ouch. But that was not who I wanted to be. So I am thankful that the Divine immediately added:
Were that guy.
So I went from being that guy of endless ‘wash, rinse, repeat’ to changing to something else. For me, that was good. Then the Divine continued:
But now you’re not.
The ‘now’ referred to the me of that day in December 2015. One might think that would have been a successful conclusion to the prayer. But the Divine continued:
From there I went into a lengthy discussion about what changed. Time and again, I was not finding it, or able to express it.
But mostly I think I didn’t really know, so the Divine encouraged me:
You do. Find it.
So I spent that prayer, finding the answer as to why I changed. After several questions from me and the Divine giving responses, I noted that I went to thinking about the beginning of the prayer and spent some time re-reading that part. I then wrote: I stopped the wash-cycle, the merry-go-round of nothingness, which related directly to her.
My use of the pronoun ‘her’ refers to Rachel. I still haven’t seen any of this come to be part of my life, but I stopped arguing with myself about my life. I had ‘washed, rinsed, and repeated’ those moments so many times in my thoughts, in my reflections, in my prayers, with Mary, and anyone else who would listen regarding the direction of marital life.
The point? Up until the end of 2015, I was constantly turning over the details of my life, the things that happened to me since my return to Texas in 2010. In that constant merry-go-round, I continually washed, rinsed, and repeated the information about two wives, but I found nothing new. I saw what my life was. I saw what my prayers conveyed. I saw that I had dedicated myself to the Divine. Yet, vainly I tried to find something different than the leading that was right in front of me.
But by the time of that photography session, I had arrived at the point that I looked forward to my life and my family to be. I’m different. We’re different. But I hadn’t fully adjusted to that reality.
Referring directly to my reply within the prayer, the Divine responded:
Then the Divine immediately continued:
That’s my point. You’re off the cycle, drop the action as if you were still there.
Hmm. Interesting, is it not? That one can stop doing something, and although they have stopped doing that cycle of things, they still engage life as if they are in that cycle. Sad, I suppose, but probably more common than I’d care to imagine, if/when each person has their own cycle they have to end.
Without my prayer life, I probably would still be in the wash, rinse, repeat cycle. But I got out of that cycle, but hadn’t adjusted my own life. The Divine continued:
You live life differently now, you have for some time,
That prayer was back in December 2015. So how long had it been? I don’t know. But I had not changed how I approached my own life.
However, the Divine conveyed:
but you still engage life: sleep, wake, sleep, wake, sleep, wake, sleep, wake, sleep, wake. That is not your life now.
Oops. It’s one thing to recognize that one is no longer doing the same things. It is quite another, to alter one’s actual practices. So consider how the Divine concluded that portion:
Your life is awakened, you know who you are, you know where you’re going, so get there.
Hmm. Four things.
One, I went from sleep to awake. Two, I learned who I was. Three, I know where I am going. Four, I need to get there.
At the time of the prayer, I recorded in my journal: I’m a little dazed here, befuddled, confused, baffled. Not certain what just happened.
Now though, I know what happened. But that note also serves as a testimony that I was still approaching my life through the cycle that I had quit. Think of it like this.
If one had lots of money and could purchase almost anything they wanted, when they wanted, but all of the sudden they lost all their wealth they might still approach life as if they had money when in reality they don’t.
On the flip side of that is the one who goes from poverty to riches, and in the state of having wealth, they approach life the same way they did when they had no money, in other words not accepting that they have wealth.
In application to me, I had gone from a monogamist-only perspective into a Biblical polygynist perspective. Yet, I was engaging my own life through monogamy-only actions. That was a tough reality to accept.
That means that although I had intellectually accepted myself, and even though I had interacted with some ladies about this life, I had not incorporated into my actual life the new perspective.
But I have changed, and I have incorporated those changes into my life. I want to arrive at that new place, and I have been and I am doing things in order to get to that new marriage.
Blessings and Shalom