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One of our favorite ideas about marriage comes from Ephesians 5:31, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” A mysterious thing happens when a man and woman become husband and wife. We become more than just two individuals living in the same house. We become one.
Spiritually we become one as our connection paints a picture of the love that exists between Jesus and His bride (the Church).
Culturally we become one as we become the creators of a new family. Together we represent a shared family name, choose priorities, set goals, create traditions and adopt ways of communicating. The combination of these choices is unique to us and creates a “never before” family system.
Genetically we become one as we produce children who will carry our combined genetic signature forever.
Pam and I celebrate these truths daily. We rejoice over our kids and grandkids. We are thrilled that countless people have told us our love helped them find hope. We find strength in reflecting on what it means to carry our last name. These factors will never change but they don’t guarantee we will stay in sync as we go about our daily lives. This is where kayaking has helped us the most.
A tandem kayak is an undeniable test of whether we are humble enough to be in sync with one another. The person who sits in front (the strategic paddler) sets the direction while the person in the back (the power paddler) sets the pace. When we get in the boat, Pam consistently sits in the front. We chose this because I am a stronger paddler and we can create more speed if I am in the back of the boat. This puts a burden on Pam to paddle in a way I can follow. If she is too spontaneous (which is one of her gifts), we will paddle out of sync, fight against each other and make little progress. If she is predictable and rhythmic, I can follow her pattern and add momentum to her choice of where we are headed.
Any time we share this, somebody inevitably asks, “So does Pam choose the direction for your family?” This is where Ephesians 5:21 comes into play, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Sometimes Pam chooses the where and I add momentum. Other times, I choose the direction and Pam adds her support. The context determines who will set the direction and who sets the pace.
It is easy to ask the question, “Which of these tasks is more important?” but the obvious answer is, “Neither.” If the person up front chooses a good direction but the paddler in back won’t cooperate, the kayak trip is miserable. It is either chaotic, slower than necessary or harder than expected and it all depends on what the power paddler is doing. If the power paddler is working hard but the strategic paddler won’t cooperate, the kayak moves fast but is aimless. It takes both and the more wiling each partner is, the better the kayak moves.
Kayaking to get our mail is a fun venture but it also trained us to be better partners when we are off the water. What keeps you in sync with the one you love?