Once in a while I'll be sharing something from a newspaper or magazine that fits with the theme of this site. This is my February column for FOCUS Magazine.
Best - DEREK Hot Tea and Faithful Love - DEREK MAUL
Earlier this month, my wife Rebekah and I celebrated the thirty-third anniversary of our first date. She first asked me out February 4, 1977 - we were students at Stetson University and went to a basketball game. Believe me - she didn’t have to do the asking ever again!
Valentines Day was significant that year because the only reason she agreed to an evening together was so she could dump me! She tried as hard as she could, but instead of capitulating, I made her a cup of hot tea, listened to everything that was on her mind, and thereby set the tone for one of the foundational principles of how we do love in our house.
I’m talking about the principle of grace – or what I like to call the initiative of tea.
Let me explain. “Apart from its antioxidant, heart fitness, and other amazing health benefits, the real genius of tea resides in its redemptive characteristics. Tea is all about the preparation, the time invested, and the intention for community. Most importantly, the preparation and the sharing of a pot of tea is a deliberate act of grace. Offering tea declares I love you enough to serve you, to spend focused time together and to offer my full attention. It says I want this relationship to work.” (From “GET REAL”, Derek Maul, pp 59-60)
When I made Rebekah tea that first Valentines Day, I was telling her that the way I do love is rooted in giving, not in taking. The biblical principle at play is the idea of mutual submission, Ephesians 5:21- “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”.
When two people relate to one-another in that way, they’re latching onto some powerful relational advice. For us, it turned out to be a great place to start.
Another important way Rebekah and I we go about love is in not waiting for days like February 14 in order to show our feelings. Any day could (and should) be a good day for a mushy card, a bunch of flowers, a lunch date or a box of chocolates.
Don’t misunderstand; I still come through on Valentines Day. Believe me, I learned early on that “taking a counter-cultural stand”, surprising her with flowers two days early, or arranging a romantic dinner on, say, the 15th, in no way exempted me from suitable levels of romance on the day itself.
But it’s the unexpected that keeps things fresh; the serendipity; the “I didn’t see that coming.”
That said, possibly the greatest love secret in our house is in the routine of daily kindness, mutual service, selflessness, attentiveness and – most compelling of all – faithfulness that goes out of its way to be proactive in terms of gratuitous grace. The idea of grace is rooted in unconditional giving; grace always builds up.
It’s like the advice I offer men who are hung up on the idea they should assume a dominant role as husbands. “If you want to be a leader in your home, then follow Jesus,” I say. “Be a servant leader; put your wife’s needs ahead of your own; lead in terms of grace. Try that, then come talk to me about ‘Your rightful place’.”
Rebekah and I find that love works best when it is given, not taken; that respect comes most naturally when it is, first, offered; that we can have exactly what everyone in the world is so desperately looking for every Valentine’s.
So does Valentine’s Day work for you? It can - if only we adopt the Jesus Way of self-giving, self-less, grace-imbued, mutually submissive love.