[bl]T[/bl]wo years ago today at a local café in Jinja, Uganda Mark and I considered the things we never would have done had we not married each other. We hardly recognize ourselves as the Mark Manry and Lori Gresham that fell in love. God has written for us a story that has journeyed us through struggle, vulnerability, sacrifice and joy. Now after 13 years of marriage, we are so proud of one another and how we’ve surrendered ourselves to God’s mutual shaping process that must occur if a marriage is to mature and grow and thrive.
Mutual shaping, it’s the only way to truly live and grow within community.
It’s how God unveils new perspectives. It’s how we understand him more fully. It’s how we grow in love for one another.
Mutual shaping, it’s grace’s way of transforming individuals and communities within relationship.
Community is where God’s plan for redemption exists. It’s the place we live out our faith. It’s the light for the rest of the world to see. But this community, this church, must be open for shaping. Like Peter, who fellowshipped with Cornelius and allowed this Gentile and the vision God gave him to shape for him a new perspective on the very nature of God and his intention for all people. The church was never the same again because Peter was open to change. And we’re not talking about simple little modifications, but big huge revelations about who the church is and what we’re called to do.
When I read the story of Peter, I pause to consider whether or not I am open for God to reveal misunderstandings in my theology through the people in my life. My family, my church community, my friends, even strangers like Cornelius. God is continually shaping the church for his purposes. Are you open for it?
Do you allow others to change you? Or do you simply try to change others?
My marriage did not begin with mutual shaping. I was more aware of the ways I hoped Mark would change, less aware of the ways I needed to.
A relationship won’t work when only one person does the changing.
The church and the world. Husband and wife. Parents and children. We are all called to be molded and shaped into the likeness of Christ. It took years for Mark and I to submit to one another in a shared giving of grace and love. We’re still learning.
But the more we allow God’s grace to root in our heart, to seep into the crevices of our soul, the more it will become apart of who we are and what we offer to others.
This marriage, this continual sharpening of iron with iron, this mutual sacrificing, shared living and ever changing relationship humbles me and prepares me for other relationships and responsibilities.
I am thankful.
It is not perfect. We have much to grow. But this we know: however our days are counted, we will embrace them with openness. A willingness to face challenges and changes in perspective. An availability for more. More adventure, failure, growth. More children, responsibility, and ministry.
And our journey will be lived and shared together.
Today I am thankful for the ways we have changed each other. For the things we have done because we are one.
#344 I would never have given birth to Luke – maybe a Connor, but definitely not a Luke!
#345 He would never have fathered a blue eyed, blond curly haired Tessa
#346 I would never have moved to Africa
#347 He would never have shopped at Banana Republic
#348 I would never have camped on an island in the middle of the Nile River
#349 He would never have plowed snow
#350 I would never have thought theological dialogue was a fun way to spend the evening
#351 He would never have thought watching “Gilmore Girls” was a fun way to spend the evening
#352 My home would never have been an environment of grace (nor have served so much rice!)
#353 His home would never have been colorful and social, with few boundaries.
#354 He may never have moved back to America
#355 I may never have bought ten acres with a barn
#356 And the brown little girl and the black little boy never would have been embraced by these white hands that love them dearly