The Education of an Ended Honeymoon
Everybody loves a good honeymoon. Depending on one’s perspective, that may have been read to mean a weeklong trip taken by newlyweds. Others read it to speak of a period enjoyed by newlyweds including a vacation immediately following a wedding but broader in time and scope. Truth is, a honeymoon period is not so much measured in time, but by perspective, behaviour, and experience. The unchartered waters of this period produce excitement and intrigue. Because of this newness, the phase typically grants grace, patience, and forgiveness. The limited time of the honeymoon period brings limited examples of failure and the hope that comes from this creates great zeal and purpose. All that being considered, it is no wonder we all love the honeymoon period so much.
Most things in life come with a built-in honeymoon period. People who leave one job to move to another typically enjoy a honeymoon period where the things that motivated them to leave their last place of employment seem to be much improved in the new workplace. People who moved from their previous house because of its shortcomings tend to have a space of time where all things seem right in the new house. Those who exit one relationship and enter another tend to see the early days of the new relationship as a vast improvement over the old. The principle being true in all these other areas of life, it should come as no surprise that this perspective holds true for most who leave one church with cause and begin to attend a new one.
On the surface, this all seems innocent and natural, and to an extent, it is. However, it is quite superficial and problematic. For one, there is no job, house, car, relationship, or church without problems. The perspective that the past is unequivocally bad is false just as the perspective that things in the present are necessarily better. Before long, the honeymoon fades and the present will likely be viewed as critical as the past. Furthermore, anybody, flawed or not, can temporarily love, forgive, and hope, especially when conditions are viewed favourably. The real measure of a person’s character is what happens when the honeymoon is past.
Eventually, reality sets in and one’s true character is exposed. The job that, for a space of time, seemed to be the perfect opportunity now appears for what it is, work. The marriage that could not have been any better now presents difficulties found when two people strive to become one. The material things that were so far superior to the previous material things we possessed have lost their newness and excitement and remind us more of what we left behind when we got rid of the old. The church that was so heavenly that it was almost too good to be true, was, and now it is obvious that it too has its set of shortcomings. It is at this point that the AVERAGE person gives up and starts the cycle all over again. Some even gleefully boast about the number of jobs, houses, relationships, and churches they have plowed through as though it is a badge of honour. Instead, it is a testimony of one’s instability and lack of character.
Those possessing true character, can endure when the honeymoon ends. The husband with character can love his wife, not because she has no flaws, but taking her flaws into account. The wife of integrity can stay with her husband and even thrive in the relationship, not because he has proven himself worthy, but because she is a woman of stability and faithfulness. The pastor does not leave his church because they encounter some rocky times, but rather sees those times as the reason for which he was called to minister to his flock. The church member does not get the first sight of a disagreement and determines to move to a new place of worship with new brothers and sisters in Christ but determines that the disagreements are opportunities to demonstrate true brotherly love.
The only way this attitude begins to change is if we all decide to change what we praise. Instead of praising the man who can have twenty relationships in one year, why not praise the man that can have one relationship for twenty years? Instead of marvelling at the man who can hold ten jobs in one year, praise the man that can hold down one job for ten years. Rather than laughing off the family that has attended ten to fifteen churches in the area but always hops to another one down the road, consider honouring the family who found a good church, endured the storms when they came, but stuck with it and has been faithful over the last ten to fifteen years. If one cannot eventually find something worth holding on to, it becomes even more obvious that the problem lies with the one who is unstable, unfaithful, and fickle.