Cultivating Relationships in the Comfortable Spaces

My husband and I relax on the couch. He’s reading a book. I’m doing macramé. We sit in silence. Presently, we turn on a re-run of The Amazing Race. We cringe at the ethnocentric comments and exclaim when we recognize a site we have personally visited. Sometimes we snuggle and hold hands as we watch. Other times, we’re on opposite sides of the room.

Married almost 33 years, we have hit a comfortable stride. The daily conversations needed for hashing out differences in the early days are behind us. Gone is the exhaustion and frantic snatching of moments in between parenting young children. We also no longer spend our dates seeking solutions for rearing teenagers. Even sharing our home with young adults is over.

Instead, most days are filled with side-by-side work and ministry, household chores, and quiet evenings. On top of this, no personal crisis currently clouds our ordinary existence.

This comfortable phase did not arrive automatically. It came from investing in the work of counseling and healing wounded hearts. It’s the inheritance of tears, prayer, and perseverance. Now, I finally know my husband loves and cherishes me deeply. And I’ve abandoned the need to get his attention and demand proof of that love.

I appreciate the calmness of our relationship. We have freedom to fill our days as we wish. Permission to chill. Perhaps we’re boring. (We never wanted to be boring.) Perhaps the zeal and passion have waned. (We could never have imagined that.) And yet what remains is steady, enduring, altogether precious, and so comfortable.

Experience dictates caution. This state may be temporary. Crises and stressors can appear unexpectedly (as the past year has clearly demonstrated). Guilt and wariness temper my comfort as I consider the struggles of others and guard against complacency.

So I check myself. What am I doing in the comfortable spaces to prepare for and build reserve for the hard times? How can I continue to deepen and grow my marriage so that it can withstand another crisis?

A healthy marriage takes intentionality, effort, and planning. That means continuing to connect—emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

As I reflect on my marriage, I realize my relationship with Jesus is similar. After more than fifty years, he and I are comfortable together. The ups and downs have convinced me of his love for me and assured me he will not abandon me.

Some argue it’s easy to love God when life is comfortable. But I propose that it’s actually harder to stay close to and rely on him during these times. How do I nurture our relationship when life is fine, ordinary, and boring? What about when there isn’t a crisis, a hurt, or a longing to take to him?

The writer of Hebrews reminds me to not simply coast or become lazy.

We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Hebrews 6:11–12 NIV

So, I spend time with Jesus, even if there isn’t something pressing that necessitates dependence on him. I silently listen to him as I go about my mundane tasks. I intentionally put energy into connecting emotionally, and spiritually. We even bond physically through nature, serving others, and the Holy Spirit’s presence. Choosing gratefulness for my current circumstances while not living in fear of bad news (Psalm 112:7) enables me to press on to greater maturity.

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God

Hebrews 6:1 NIV

How are you cultivating your relationship with God in the comfortable times?

PRAYER

Father God, thank you for seasons of ease and comfort. Teach me to use them to prepare for times of difficulty. Help me not to become lazy but to be diligent to the very end.

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