Back on a very hot day in July, SJ and I got to attend a rally on the National Mall called “Together 2016.” It was described as a “once in a generation millennial-focused prayer and worship gathering.” They were gearing up for one million people standing for Jesus on the National mall. “#JesusChangesEverything was the #3 trending tweet in the USA on that date. I’ve yet to see any official numbers, but it was quite a crowd. Every age, every race, and many, many different denominations attended. In that scorching hot sunny day, people searched in vain for the few shady spots available, many seeking refuge in the moving shadow of the Washington Monument as it rotated like a sundial. Well-known Christian speakers and bands were on the line up, from Michael W. Smith and Casting Crowns, to Christian rappers Trip Lee and Lecrae. A video message from the Pope was played, and evangelical Catholics spoke. A message from the President was read. We prayed for our world, our country, our leaders, and to “reset our lives as the singular body of Christ.” The day was called short due to the extreme heat and too many heat-related 911s. But to the bitter end, the crowds held on. We all craved this reconnection and reset.
It was a day of unity and NO division. All lives mattered because those present knew all were created in the image of God, and outrageously loved. At several points in the day, there were calls to prayer on our knees; it was powerful and blurred my eyes with tears to kneel in the grass with thousands of others around me, and pray with the Washington Monument behind me, the White House in view to the north, and the Lincoln Memorial over our shoulders. This was OUR country, and OUR God. Freedom to worship and gather for our beliefs. I couldn’t have felt more blessed.
This was Passion. A passion for a belief, for God. To stoke it, you need to feed it.
Often when we hear this word “Passion,” we tend to think about intimate or sexual passion. Of course, we love to hear that someone is passionate about their job, what they do. Often it is difficult to answer the question of what are you passionate about?
In love, passion can often be that feeling we experience with a new love, or a newly-wed love. Sometimes it takes us out of our heads and we become pure sensation, hormones calling to hormones. Sometimes it muddles our common sense. It often feels pretty damn good. Steamy hot passion with the one you love can’t be beat.
Then your lives together progress, and that initial passion inevitably wanes. You may be able to pull it up now and again, but it just doesn’t come as naturally anymore for some couples. The exigencies (and exhaustions) of our lives take over, and suddenly it’s jobs, making a living, paying the bills, taking the kids to Little League, attending dance recitals, trying to keep you and your family safe, fit and healthy, saving for college and retirement, and caring for elderly parents. The tyranny of “real life” takes over and can utterly quash passion. Sometimes it becomes a distant memory, and it can be damn hard to reignite. We long to feel it again, hence the reason for many affairs and divorces.
Modern age conveniences like thermostats allow us to press a few buttons, enter some settings, and climate control is automatic. When we need heat, the furnace throws out heat. When we need it cooler, the A/C chills the air. It’s a no-brainer. I’m no expert, but I
believe the old-fashioned “pilot light” which occasionally could go out (and needed to be relit), is not an issue in modern-day climate control. Everything is “automatic.” Nevertheless, all such systems require regular maintenance to function at their optimum. At the very least they need a source of power: coal, oil, electric.
Relationships don’t work with auto-pilot or thermostats, nor can they be maintained without an energy source. Both individual and couple settings have to be constantly reset, calibrated, and adjusted. Fuel sources need to be recharged. Sometimes there’s a noticeable chill in the air when we least expect it. Sometimes the heat of one person’s passion doesn’t meet that of the other’s.
Passion with my husband was the thing I most missed when we were in the insanely busy throes of raising a family, and had a seriously ailing marriage. Neither of us could even begin to figure out how to dredge up the lost passion. And passion is the thing I most appreciate now that we’ve found it again. What seemed completely gone has returned. It is most definitely a different sort of passion than what we may have remembered from our younger years, but it is nevertheless bonding and joy-producing.
How the heck did we rediscover our passion and intimacy after it had been missing in action for so long? After years of feeling hurt, betrayed, and disconnected? After seemingly unforgivable slights and wounds, which defied healing?
The answer is simply a much needed overhaul, new settings, and regular maintenance/refueling.
Overhaul: We first needed to rediscover Passion, and that came from setting aside wounds, forgiving hurts, and forgiving each other. Owning up to mistakes and our own abandonment of our husband-wife relationship, stowing the blame. We began to consider each other, respect each other, and show more kindness and patience. We actively had to resist the human urge to find fault (ask yourself, what does it really matter?) Above all, we had to look for that which is praiseworthy. Initially this is hard, after years of malignant meanness. Once we felt like we mattered to each other and to God, and that we were worthy of praise and encouragement, we could recalibrate things.
New Settings: We had to relearn to actively speak the languages of love. We had to understand how each of us most felt love, and learn to speak that love language. We had to communicate honestly and respectfully with one another, regularly. We had to both be willing to try new things, infuse different energy and fuel, make accommodations for changes in our aging bodies, learn to stop being “embarrassed” and self-conscious. It requires being deliberate and intentional about our love… not defaulting to the setting of just “letting it happen.”
Regular Maintenance: SJ knows when I need his attentions. Sadly, I’m still quite deficit in expressing this need in the most helpful ways. I still have so much to learn about speaking honestly and straight-forwardly, and not falling into a trap of thinking he should “know,” aka, read my mind. One major step back to passion came with my decision to NEVER say no to SJ (more on that in other posts). I’ve never regretted this decision, and SJ has never felt rejected. He also responds so well when he feels my complete trust in his leading. I’m not perfect, and my control freak steps up once in a while to challenge us. And we recalibrate/reset. Continued maintenance keeps the passion going.
Dance. Seduce. Gaze, touch, kiss him/her somewhere you never have. Make your kisses last more than 5 seconds. Let the hands linger on his/her body. Allow the embrace to last and deepen (maybe grind and rub). Run your fingers through her hair (trust me guys, most women DO like this… SK told me he thought I’d be upset if he mussed my hair. MUSS MY HAIR, DAMMIT!) Pray together, invite God into the intimacy he created for you, ask Him to deepen it! (I find nothing sexier than my husband thanking God for our passion and love).
Have you lost your passion? Have you rediscovered it? I’m interested to know what you feel is necessary to maintain or reignite passion between spouses.