I was privileged to help give a wedding shower for a young couple in our church last week. The soon-to-be bride and groom (Caitlen and Cody) met in Germany where Cody serves with the US forces. Caitlen had only met her future mother-in-law that afternoon and then was surprised by twenty or so women she did not know who gathered for the party. I was impressed by the gracious way she handled it all!
After they are married, Caitlen and Cody will return to Germany so there was a “money tree” at the shower (cash is a whole lot lighter to carry!) It made perfect sense to do it that way, yet I felt convicted that there should be at least a few personal things for Caitlen to open that wouldn’t take up a lot of space in her suitcase. After much thought and deliberation I remembered a special “recipe” we received forty-two years ago, still taped on the inside cover of a now very tattered, smeared and banged-up Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I decided to copy and frame the “recipe” for Caitlen and Cody as a reminder of their commitment made before God and the intricacies of building a lasting relationship:
Recipe for a Happy MarriageBlend 1 cup sweetness 1/3 cup oil of diplomacy Add eggsactly 2 lumps humility Sift together 2 cups love 2 teaspoons spunk 1 teaspoon salty humor Add to above mixture alternately 2/3 cup milk of kindness Flavor with tact Bake in slow oven for many years . . . . “The only thing that counts, is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6b
I remember reading the recipe as a young bride, smiling at the list of ingredients but clueless as to their true value. All these years later, I marvel at their richness as I reflect on what I have learned, not only from my marriage but from relationships with my children and their spouses, my grandchildren, other family, friends and from clients facing daunting life challenges:Sweetness Diplomacy Humility Love Spunk Salty humor Milk of kindness Tact
As a bride I saw love to be the centerpiece of marriage, yet had little understanding of how the other ingredients serve to broaden the scope of a true and abiding relationship over time. Now, reflecting on years of experience and observing the complexities of human relationships, I can better appreciate how the ingredients surrounding love are what bring out it’s flavor and color to the fullest. The ingredient I have come to value most in the list surrounding love is SPUNK. Why spunk? While sweetness, diplomacy, humility, and the rest certainly have their place in building loving relationships, it takes courage and determination (spunk) to keep that relationship interesting and on course. The synonyms listed in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary help to broaden the scope of spunk’s meaning:Backbone, Constancy, Fiber, Grit, Guts, Intestinal fortitude, Pluck . . . .
Meaningful relationships do not just happen. Sometimes we have to say or do things that seem harsh yet are needful. Scripture bears this out as Christians are directed to live lives that manifest His Presence to the world around us:
Spunk “speaks the truth in love” (Ephesians 4) as words are applied with care,
Spunk prays faithfully:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies’ But I (Jesus) tell you,‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . .'” Matthew 5:43-45
Spunk’s confidence is well placed:
” . . . blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water . . . It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green.” Jeremiah 17:7, 8a
Spunk is not naive:
“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but . . . against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
Spunk stands for what is right:
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day if evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after you have do everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13
Spunk hopes as priorities are kept straight:
“Therefore we do not lose heart . . . we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” II Corinthians 4:16a and 18
Spunk loves deeply:
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails . . . .” I Corinthians 13: 6-8a
Spunk is invested in something outside of itself:“Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7,8
How we handle the challenges that come to all relationships can either strengthen or kill them. Spunk applied in faith can be a strengthening agent, so long as we keep our motives pure.
Struggling in a relationship right now? Prayerfully adding 2 teaspoons of spunk may be exactly what is needed. Consider Jesus’ demonstration of courage and determination (the epitome of spunk) in Hebrews 12:1-3 and be blessed:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
All to His Glory!