by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
Last weekend, I tried wowing and pleasing my husband by making a difficult Thai dish. It took me hours, and by the time I turned off the wok, I knew it was a flop. Nathan couldn’t even pretend to like it. My feelings got hurt. I had tried to wow him, but I could tell he was far from wowed. As I showered off the soy sauce, I began thinking, “what do I have to do to please this guy?!”
I suddenly realized I was ridiculous. I didn’t and don’t ever have to work to please my husband. He’s already pleased with me. I certainly don’t have to impress him. He accepts me for who I am. And as far as all those hours in the kitchen went, my husband would have been much happier eating takeout with me on the couch so we could be together. It struck me I had taken a religious approach to my marriage instead of enjoying our relationship.
There’s a lot of talk nowadays about how Christianity is “not about religion, it’s about a relationship,” yet most people I know are jumping through self-imposed religious hoops. My attempts to please my husband is a perfect example of this. I had a picture of what a “good wife” should do, and I set out to please my husband by fulfilling that brief. Problem was, I had the wrong brief. What my husband wanted was me. What he got were bad Thai food and a crabby wife. Not his fault. Mine, for not relaxing and enjoying the wonder of our union.
The literal meaning of the word religion is “to return to bondage.” That’s because we are enslaved by our efforts to please God. Jesus died to get us out of that system. However, Christianity has turned what should be a vibrant relationship with the Father into a list of things we believe we have to do to be accepted. That includes praying, tithing, Bible reading, church attendance, no drinking, smoking or cussing, and, depending upon your denomination, bad haircuts, and funny clothes.
None of these things are bad, per se (except maybe those haircuts!), but they do not impress the Father. What impresses and pleases the Father is Jesus. Because I put my faith in the astonishingly impressive life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Father is pleased with me.
That’s it. There are no additives or preservatives. It’s 100% faith in Jesus through and through. How gloriously liberating! There’s nothing I can do to please someone who’s already pleased! I can now get over myself, accept being accepted, and enjoy our relationship. I’m free to cozy up on the couch with the Father and eat takeout. The more time I spend with Him, the more smitten I become. After all, I’m having a relationship with a Being powerful and vast enough to breathe out stars and playful enough to create the platypus.
The outflow of our relationship causes me to do things freely I used to do begrudgingly. I love to read the Word, and I chatter with Him all day. I guess that’s praying without ceasing. I tithe because my cup runneth over. I don’t drink or smoke, and try not to cuss because I don’t want to. And best of all, I don’t feel compelled to get a bad haircut! Oh, the never-ending joys of grace.