Blue Collar Love

Lately, when I have a moment or two, I’ve been thinking about love.

Not in the way you might think—this is not one of those gooshy, “I love my wife sooo much” posts (although I do).

Rather, I have been thinking that there really is a pretty big difference between the sort-of star-struck love you feel while dating, even leading up to your wedding and the real, deeper, blue-collar love you feel after you’ve been married a while, and the work of marriage begins.

Star-struck love gets you to the altar; blue-collar love keeps you together, and growing closer.

It isn’t that the romance ends when you tie the knot, because it doesn’t. It actually gets better.

Personally, I don’t think a soulmate is someone you slow-dance with your entire marriage, and say things like “you complete me” to at every opportunity, while staring into each other’s eyes and sighing.

That crap is for the movies, and it isn’t real marriage—it isn’t blue collar love.

I think a soulmate (if there is such a thing) is the person you can come home to and say “my day was crap,” and then they sit on the couch with you, drinking a beer and not talking about it, while the kids destroy the rest of the house.

A “soulmate” is the person you can just be with sometimes, and that is enough. It doesn’t have to be a Bruno Mars song all the time.

A “soulmate” is someone who can see you in all your morning magnificence and still give you a kiss, then tell you your breath smells like ass.

Blue-collar love is not perfectly arranged, candlelit dates at fancy restaurants. It’s driving to Dairy Queen barefoot at 10pm for a blizzard because nothing else will do.

It’s making your whiny, complaining husband a pie that everyone else in the free world hates, because his mom made it for him, and when he has it he remembers her.

Blue-collar love is not running off when things get tough, or when you have an argument or disagreement. It’s rolling up your sleeves and working that stuff out.

Blue-collar love is being able to say to your spouse “I don’t have it right now. Everything feels wrong. Can I just…talk a little? I need someone to listen.”

Or sleeping sitting up in a Hospital chair while your spouse gets emergency surgery on Valentine’s day.

It’s having common goals; the same things are important to each person. It’s hitting your knees and doing the work of real prayer when it needs to be done. Battling together for your kids and your marriage.

Sometimes blue collar love is cleaning up messes you didn’t make so they don’t have to.

Or calling them out when they fart worse than you.

Or knowing when to offer input or just listen, even when your day was just as bad as theirs sounds.

Blue collar love is ugly-crying and not being embarrassed, because you know they will probably tease you after you get it out, and that is awesome.

Blue collar love is goofing around in the kitchen until you almost fall, then falling anyway, grabbing onto each other the whole way while screaming with laughter (and then groaning like you took a hit from Warren Sapp afterward).

But blue collar love can also be work, and that makes it even better. Marriage is not for the faint of heart.

If neither I nor my wife was willing to work at things, life would be wretched.

But I also think if everything was easy all the time, life would be crappy, too.

It isn’t until we face adversity of some kind that we learn what we are capable of, and how strong we are as individuals and as a couple.

I may not be the most romantic man in the world, certainly not the most observant. I forget things. I’m bad at planning things for my wife-who is conversely the bees knees with all that stuff.

My wife knows this well, and let’s me slide with sucking at it.

Individually, we probably have issues. Everyone does. But they aren’t deal-breakers, and they do not lessen what we have together, which isn’t a perfect marriage.

But it’s a great one. We love God, and love each other. We put in the OT when it’s needed (which is always), and always extend the extra Grace.

Because without a little work every once in a while, the rewards aren’t as sweet.

My wife is the only person I have truly loved, in the way people usually mean it. She is, to me, proof that God loves me. She is—literally—an answer to prayer, and will be my pretty girl until I look like this:

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And even when I come home from work or anywhere smelling like a herd of rabid buffalo, she gives me a kiss…then tells me to go wash up, because I smell like trash, or whatever I happened to be into that particular day.

Or for my part, I can come into the bedroom while she’s using the w.c. and prance around the bathroom door in my Superman chonies. Or take a picture of my rear with her phone and make it wallpaper. It’s all good. She just laughs at me, and that’s a good thing.

You want to know my secret to staying happy? Be willing to sacrifice your dignity for a laugh every once in a while.

Come to think, we laugh a lot. Seriously, a LOT. That woman is funny, and I am more than willing to embarrass myself, especially in front of the kids. I want to teach them how to one day love their wives.

That’s the least I can do.

We have a blue collar love, and we are happy. Even when it’s hard, and life is being lame.

And, before I forget, I might add that it’s fun to freak out the kids every chance we get, too. If you don’t know what I mean, try giving your spouse a kiss in the presence of your children. You will usually get the wedge, or told to never dance again (I’m never gonna dance again…guilty feet have got no rhythm).

That’s another thing my wife has to put up with–constant and random 80’s song references…

It’s work, man. But it’s the most satisfying you will ever do.home

Oatmeal, Enemies, and Morning Catharsis

The bible clearly has a lot of instruction about how we’re supposed to treat people, and lead our lives in such a way we can represent Christ to those who don’t know him and have not heard the good news.

My problem is that I want those people to be nice. That often isn’t the case. There’s a great many red letters in my Life Application Study Bible detailing what we can expect to face from people when we share Christ with them.

Persecution, hatred, even death.

I don’t want to be persecuted. I want to be welcomed. I want to talk about God with people who already know how awesome He is. I don’t want to defend my faith, and I don’t want to turn any cheeks.

I want to hit people back. I want to go “Chuck Norris” on my enemies.

Scripture tells me I can’t. This morning I read Proverbs 25: 21-22 while I was eating my oatmeal, and I didn’t like it.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals in his head, and the Lord will reward you.

The first thing I thought about was why the heck should I do that for my enemy? And while I might not have any personal enemies, certainly it could be argued that as Christians there are a great many people who hate us for believing in something besides ourselves and trying to lead our lives so they demonstrate that.

Certainly today’s social and political climate in the United States is a vivid demonstration of how a great many people feel about Christians and what they stand for, or perhaps “stand against” would be more apt.

That’s neither here nor there.

To my mind, what it’s about is a human response to an affront vs a Godly response.

We are not God. We are people, and our human nature is to respond like to like. So if someone cuts me off (or flips me off) in traffic, I want to make sure I “get them back” in some way, even if that involves a raised finger of my own or a few shouted words.

If someone insults me, my family, or my faith, I want to respond in kind. I want to out-protest their protest. I want to make them look like idiots because they tried to make me look like one.

Jesus tells me I can’t do that. His Godly nature demonstrates how lacking in grace my human nature is.

It is solely through his presence–his inhabitation–that I can show any grace at all.

Because I have been shown grace, I can be graceful.

Because I have been shown mercy, I can be merciful.

Because I have been shown love, I can be loving.

The trick is, it’s more important I show these things to enemies than friends. My family and friends already know they are loved.

Enemies being enemies, they expect a certain response to their actions. Unfortunately, we often give them what they’ve come to expect from us. It’s in our nature.

With God’s nature, we suddenly have the ability to respond how they do not expect.

That changes everything. In my opinion, it is difficult to respond to love with hate.

Unfortunately, it’s also hard to respond to hate with love.

Yet as we progress through a season of changing political and religious tolerances, it seems clear that unless we change something, entropy isn’t just going to be a concept we learn about in high school.

We’re going to destroy ourselves.

It’s not too late to seek harmony instead of entropy.

It’s not too late to respond to hate and persecution with love.

It’s not too late too late to look at the person in the mirror and ask them if they truly know God and care about His will for their life.

It’s not too late to manifest that will for our lives in our lives.

So the next time you’re confronted with hate, or prejudice, or persecution, try and respond with love.

They won’t expect it, and you’ll heap burning coals on their head.