Saturday, July 5, 2014

Marriage Is: A Clock

Since beginning this "Marriage Is..." series I have taken some time to write down potential blog posts, as they come, in hopes that I won't get overwhelmed or bored with the idea. I'm not easily bored, but you never know. So far the only series I've done is the National Poetry Month writing marathon I do every April. This, however, is compressed into one topic. It's fairly new to me. So I struggled to decide what I should write about this week, until Wednesday. 

Wednesday, July 2nd, was my parents' 37th anniversary. Can you imagine being married for 37 years? That's a really long time to spend with just one person. 37 years of raising children and going to work and buying socks and having fights and cleaning up after people and arguing about where to go for dinner or what movie to see or how big of a Christmas tree we should buy or who left the toilet seat up (it was a male in the house, I guarantee it). In the three short years of marriage I've experienced, we have broken at least 20 dishes (including but not limited to my very precious Saturday Evening Post tumblers, lots of pretty bowls, the occasional less-pretty plate, and the lid to an inherited Mikasa sugar bowl.) I can't imagine how many things have been broken in 37 years.

But more than anything, they have shared time. Which immediately led me to this conclusion:

Marriage is a Clock.

Specifically, marriage is an analog clock, and not a digital clock--for several reasons. I'll list the reasons shortly but first I want to get the "time" element out of the way because it's not my main point. Marriage is a clock because it tells time, it tells you how long until you have to leave, or how late you are, etc. In the same way, marriage is a gauge for other things in life. Your relationship with your spouse helps you make decisions. Like time. Moving on!
Please note that "analog" is the correct spelling for electronics. So there.

1. Analog clocks are traditional, as is marriage. They are not quite as traditional as the candles people used to burn which told how many hours had passed, and certainly not as traditional as sundials. However, they are still one of the most "old fashioned" things people carry around. Despite the prevalence of digital clocks (which I'll get into later) you still see people wearing analog wristwatches and hanging beautifully crafted analog clocks in their homes. Marriage is quickly becoming an old fashioned notion, an outdated institution, but yet, people still get married. They still sign the papers and have the wedding, sometimes just in a courthouse. The point is, marriage is so traditional some people don't even believe in it, kind of like how some grown adults don't know how to read an analog clock.

The concept of weddings, however, leads me to another reason marriage is like an analog clock: 2. Analog clocks are often very pretty. And if they're not pretty, they're certainly unique.

The photo on the left is of my husband (yeah, I know, he's super cute) and the clock we made together at The ReBuilding Exchange in Chicago. We bought the clock kit beforehand and put everything together at the event. The red pieces were pre-painted by some stranger who donated the wood, the brown pieces are actually really lovely cherry wood, and the numbers for the clock were cut from miscellaneous measuring tapes. Its' beauty may not inspire you (or anyone) but it certainly is unique--about as unique as those clocks with teacups for each number or different bird calls for each hour.

Marriage, like a clock, is not always pretty. There are plenty of unhealthy, damaging marriages. (I can't speak for unhealthy or damaging clocks. Maybe they exist, but I'm not an expert on that subject, to be honest.) But in the modern world, where the average person you meet has not been forced into an arranged marriage or married someone for money, most of the time when people decide to tie the knot they've done it with the intention of having a healthy, loving marriage.

Clocks are created to be functional, but they can also be a notable piece of decor on your wall. I made a clock because I wanted it to be functional and look awesome. I made a marriage because I wanted it to be functional and look beautiful.

3. Clocks tick. This is probably one of the most important pieces.

Anybody ever ask you what "makes you tick"? Or talk about what makes someone else tick? What makes a business tick? If you haven't heard it, a brief definition: what motivates someone/something. The ticking of a clock is motivated by gears. These gears rotate together within the watch, seamlessly causing every hand to go where it should and thus express the time. In the case of the watch pendant I inherited from my grandmother, it ticks after it's been wound up. A marriage "ticks" because it has been wound up, it's in working order, all the parts underneath the pristine face are working together.

The mechanisms, or the motivational "gears" of your marriage are up to you. For some couples, you might say "love" makes you tick, and that's somehow vague enough but also deep enough to be true. For others, it might be faith, laughter, or their children, or a basketball team, for all I know. It's usually a combination of many things. Just like there are many gears inside even the tiniest clock, there are also many things inside a marriage that allow husband and wife to continue loving each other and nurturing their relationship.

For me, the gears in my marriage are endless. We are motivated by our faith in God and the conversations this allows us to have, which let us grow closer to each other. We are motivated by and thrive on making each other laugh. We thrive on reading books together and singing loudly in the car and staying up way too late just because we didn't want to stop talking yet.

But here is the real idea I'm trying to share. 4. Marriage is like a clock because there are two hands. Three is a good number as well, and I could go into a metaphor about clocks along with that great verse from Ecclesiastes about a cord of three strands, but I won't. (Not today, at least!) You need at least 2 hands to properly read a clock.

Each hand does something different. The hour or the minute hand can't do much alone. Sure, you could make a hand with just an hour hand, but it would be insanely confusing, because I would always wonder if it was missing a hand and then wonder which hand was missing and therefore am I looking at the minute hand or the hour hand? Seriously, I have thought about this! This notion alone, of being confused by a clock, is enough for me to truly believe all clocks definitely need two hands. They each do something different, but they are each distinctly vital to the function of the clock.

In the same way, each person in a marriage does something different. They are made separately. They are unique. As I said last time, they are whole people by themselves. But they have to work together, or nothing will make much sense. When one moves, so does the other. When one stops, so does the other. The gears inside, the stuff of life which makes them tick, work so seamlessly that they dance on the face of time together. If you try to move one hand without the other... you will probably break your poor clock. The two hands, once together, can never be separated. Til death do us part. (Or until the batteries die, or Captain Hook throws you into a crocodile.)

Now, a few notes on digital clocks. You can probably see where I'm going with this. If marriage is an analog clock, then _______________ must be a digital clock. You guessed it, singleness.

Digital clocks are fairly modern. In fact, if you look it up, you'll find that the first "digital" clocks weren't digital at all. Invented around 1890, they featured rotating numbers instead of rotating hands, but were still run by gears. The clocks we commonly associate with the title "digital" weren't invented until 1970.

Digital clocks also don't tick. Digital clocks don't have hands. Digital clocks could be pretty, I suppose, but those squarish LED numbers are a little too industrial for me to ever call them pretty. The clocks themselves, that being the area which expresses the time, are not pretty. Digital clocks might come in a pretty design, but  LED numbers are designed for efficiency, not aesthetics.

This is why singleness is more like a digital clock than an analog clock. I am in no way trying to say singleness is not beautiful or inspiring, I'm not insinuating that singleness is industrial or boring. In fact, singleness isn't very modern either.

But it is freer, and more efficient. When God calls someone to singleness, it's because the purpose he has for their life is better suited for someone who is not attached to a husband or wife. He created someone to function alone (much like the self-inking stamp.) This allows a single person to move from place to place without worrying about their spouse. Being single allows people to go on long mission trips overseas, or study intensely on a subject they are passionate about, or be part of a ministry that requires lots of time away from home serving other people--all things that are good for anyone, but can be more difficult with a spouse and children waiting at home.

Digital clocks are singular. They are easily placed just about anywhere. You have one next to your bed, because you want to be able to tell time immediately. You have one on the coffee pot, the microwave, the oven, in the bottom corner of your computer screen, and your phone (for goodness sake!)... the list goes on forever. The point is, singleness, like a digital clock, has the glorious freedom to be anywhere at any time. Get it? Time? Yeah... nevermind. Just look at these cool pictures of digital clocks and be happy that you're a clock of some sort.

No matter what kind of clock you are, I find you incredible. : )

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