The perfect day

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What is your perfect day? I remember my sixth-grade teacher gave us a writing assignment asking us to answer that very question. I’m pretty sure my day included lots of snow and sledding (and no school of course), hot chocolate, and all of my favorite foods at the time including spoonbread and pork chops. I was obsessed with winter as a child, partly because we didn’t get much of a winter in Georgia, so any snowfall was a real treasure. Since then I’ve experienced more than my fair share of snow and now prefer a nice hot summer’s day, thank you very much. [picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=sledding&iid=5063542″ src=”f/2/7/7/Girl_89_walking_21af.jpg?adImageId=10821508&imageId=5063542″ width=”380″ height=”254″ /]

But there are certain elements that would always constitute a perfect day for me, regardless of my age or change in tastes. And I think yesterday included most, if not all, of those elements.

1. Good food: It was my turn to cook last night so I grilled some lamb chops with a little garlic, rosemary and olive oil, and served them with couscous mixed with red onions, green olives, and basil, with green beans on the side. We washed it down with an excellent Australian shiraz and the result was an immensely satisfying meal.

2. Good music: I’d been introduced to the local band Flight Brigade this week after being invited to go to their gig at the Half Moon Putney on March 20th, so I checked them out on myspace and enjoyed what I heard. Looking forward to hearing them live. Incidentally, the Half Moon in its day has hosted The Rolling Stones and Natasha Bedingfield, among others. Bodes well for these guys.

3. Talking with family: Other than getting to spend most of the day with my husband, I also got to talk over Skype with my sisters. Keeping in touch with my family back in the U.S. is an important part of every day, so of course it would have to be included in my perfect day. And of course spending quality time with my husband is essential.

4. A good dose of exercise: Of course sledding would be the ideal form of exercise in my perfect day. Walking up those hills burns a lot of calories, and then you get the fun of flying down them. But in lieu of that, I did an exercise DVD at a friend’s house. OK, it was indoors, but at least it got me movin’.

5. Good entertainment: Yesterday I was catching up on some Olympics action that I’d missed during the week. I absolutely love BBC iPlayer and it has been my lifeline for staying on top of all that’s happening in Vancouver. And when it comes down to it, there’s not much that’s more entertaining than sports.

6. Spending time with friends: After dinner was over last night I went over to my friend’s house to hang out and watch a DVD with her and another girl. She’s going to North America for four months during the summer so we went through her itinerary and I gave her some helpful pointers.

7. Something a little…unusual: OK, so this was a planned unusual thing, but it’s something that happens very rarely so it was special. I booked our tickets to travel to America in the summer and it was amazing how much it brightened up my day. The perfect day always has to include the anticipation of something exciting happening in the future.

8. A good night’s sleep: I don’t think I need to point out why this is essential. Thankfully last night I slept like a rock until the morning, perhaps because my day was perfect?

So what’s your perfect day?

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Submission: to let him win…you over

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[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=apology&iid=38972″ src=”0037/9126f29f-54f1-43b8-a5db-1eea42e71cf1.jpg?adImageId=10588741&imageId=38972″ width=”380″ height=”284″ /]
There’s been a right storm a-brewin’ here over the comments of one Anglican vicar on the topic of submission within marriage. As an aside I think it’s a classic case of a sermon preached into the context of a church community not translating well into the equality-at-all-costs media. As a result I don’t feel I have the full picture of what happened. But it has got me thinking about what submission actually is, particularly within the context of a marriage, and in light of Christ’s relationship with the church and how that is depicted in the Bible.

Ephesians 5:24-25: Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

This is often the verse people refer to when they talk about submission. Notably, in v. 21 Paul tells the Ephesians to submit to  one another out of reverence to Christ. He takes a similar tact in 1 Corinthians in the context of gender roles and head coverings when he says “all things are from God.” It should go without saying that any conversation about the roles of husbands and wives within marriage should be set in this context.

It got me thinking, though – what kind of role does Christ have in relationship to the church, and vice versa? And it’s also worth thinking about God’s relationship to ancient Israel as depicted in the Old Testament. And then, what about Song of Solomon? How does the husband treat his wife in that book, and how does she respond? Shouldn’t these emotionally-charged, expressive, poetic depictions of relationships inform our systematic theology about submission and love just as much as Paul’s instructions to the early church?

The Old Testament is full of the imagery of God being “married” to his people Israel. He is constantly trying to woo them back to him when they have turned away or are not listening to him. Jeremiah 3:14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband.” (Interestingly the ESV translates husband as “master” and the KJV translates it as “married unto you.”) In Song of Solomon the bride appears to have a dream where she fears her husband has abandoned her. He then returns to win her back but she doesn’t answer the door. When she finally does he isn’t there, but he’s left a gift of myrrh for her and she is crushed with regret. The whole book is about the bridegroom wooing the bride and the back and forth of praises between them. Then in Christ we find the ultimate bridegroom who calls on the church to respond to the Father, and to be forever united with him. Christ tells the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” The church is called to submit to Christ by listening to him first of all, just like Israel had to listen to God and the bride in Song of Solomon had to open that door.

So perhaps one aspect of submission for a wife is to allow her husband to win her over, to persuade her back to him. I don’t necessarily mean sitting down and having a reasoned discussion about a decision you need to make as a couple. If a marriage is functioning even at a most basic level, the truth is that you are constantly sharing and shaping each other’s opinions every day, and you become less and less two independent individuals and more and more one entity. I’m merely talking about a continually wooing back into a loving, whole relationship where you not only travel in the same direction but you travel together, as one flesh. And the role of the husband is to allow this process to happen, to use persuasion and service to his wife rather than domination to win her over.

People often assume that the wooing of a man for a woman ends at marriage, but nothing could be further from the truth. And this is also not to say that a wife can’t woo her husband in some way – I’m just basing this thought experiment on the imagery that is found in the Bible and not trying to turn the stories in the Bible into an allegory for 21st century life. But it’s such a freeing thought, isn’t it? Submission is not “obey and never question” but it’s “listen and always respond.”

My husband has posted two blog entries related to this topic, if you’re interested. One is about psychology and sociology informing our theology, and the other is about blindspots and how language can influence our priorities.