“Listen, real poetry doesn’t say anything, it just ticks off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You walk through any one that suits you.”  -James Douglas Morrison

The Stolen Night
by Peter L Richardson, 1991

Sleep, dear child,
Away the fright-ended day,
The last cold hour’s timely pain.
Embrace the night:
Crossed arms clutch your breast—
Dream the dream of a day yet to come
     or days once past.
Dance in the night
Chaperoned by the moon’s pale blue light.
Make love to the heavens above~
     the stars…
You in the universe
     so small and alone.
The universe in you
     become one.
Take the burden of
     a thousand times children
     starven and beaten
     raped and eaten of
          their mind-senses-love.

Give up with the burnt out star—
Feel it’s children dry and freeze.
No longer able to take milk from
     the mother-father-god.
Wash the blood off your hands of
     a million warriors
     from a thousand wars.

You in the night fits so right.
Give the painful joy of
     a newborn life.
Give life to the earth from
     cloud rebirth.
Your sorrowful rain pours down
     the souls of all of us.
Save us.
Slave us.

We worship the sun which
     brings forth light,
     sooths our fright
     of the stolen night.

“Men crave nothing so much as
      something to worship.”
            -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Showdown, PLR '91

Teenage Winter Blues
by Peter L Richardson, 1991

Been four long years since I seen the sun,
Just a few more months
     ‘fore another one.
Now the winter winds
     shred my soul,
I’m forced to examine
     this life I stole.
But soon the snow will break,
     as will my cage:
Buds blossom with life
     to release this rage!

Bask in the sun at the glorious beach,
Rejoice with the waves—
     my life I’ve reached!
And the summer, she shall
     present me with love:
Of a girl? Of life?
     Either of the above!

The last summer sun sets upon the ocean,
The colors of my sin paint
     a beautiful picture.
Falling leaves burn red
     embers, desires
The chill in the air starts
     distant scares…

Autumn knows nostalgia:
The pain of long dead loves
     come up from the caskets
     corroded and dirty,
     lovely and certainly
     alone…
Her eyes still shone.

from Word Literary Magazine '91

Just One Single Poem
(Introduction)

by Peter L Richardson, 1990

A poem could strike you down
And make you its slave
As you live by its words
Everyday.

A poem could give you awakening,
Make you understand the pain
And the love
Of life.

A poem could reveal the beauty of the world
Or tell the horror of its lies;
Foretell your death
Or birth.

A poem could place love in your heart,
Love that can make you bleed,
Blind you to death,
Save you.

A poem, though, can destroy a soul
If the poet’s just too wise
For his own mind—
Too bold.

A poem could build a new world,
Change the wrong to right,
If you’ll just listen
And see…

The Adversary
by John Hankins, 1990

Convictions, promises, plans weaved together.
Responsibilities tie you up something short of forever.
Politicians, status symbols, officials: power.
No faces seen in this desperate hour.

You, friends, family, me: the adversary.
Impossible to act as you really may be.
Teachers, cops, society: the complaint.
Ever stop and see the picture you paint?

Trust, love, fun: never used.
Who are you? The abuser or the abused?
My friend, we’ve all been on both ends of that stick.
This life appears as a magician’s trick.

So for all the things we oppose,
Reconcile? Never! Crush your foes.
Uncommon ground eternally enveloped in…
To throw away a chance for a friend is a sin.

Come With Me
by Peter L Richardson, 1990

Come with me, my friend, to the inner depths of my soul.
Strip away the lies, will we find an empty hole?
Would we have made it this far, if not for the Lord above?
Come with me, my friend, let’s find what a man is made of.

Come with me, my love, let us join together.
Baby, please stay with me, at least until forever.
Will our love still be, after we both have gone?
Come with me, my love, let us join as one.

Come with me, my enemy, I’ll take you by the hand.
I’ll walk your mile, if you walk mine, and try to understand.
For our differences won’t matter, when the world is spent.
Come with me, my enemy, and the hate we will forget.

The Day of the Skin
by Peter L Richardson, 1990

It’s October.
It’s hot.
Friday the 13th.
The Indians brought the summer back.
Full moon out tonight.
My back itches so bad.
It’s too hot.
Vultures swoop overhead.
The insects attack.
Protect their homeland.
There’s gas everywhere.
I cannot stop it.
I cannot stop it.
Mind has cracked.
Too much courage.
Too much stupidity.
Luckily, I made it home safe tonight.
The thick fog cools everything down.
Through it all, she came once again,
in the nick of time,
like an angel,
a broken angel.

This one’s for you, Bob.

Waysted Time
by Peter L Richardson, 1990

Lost track of time, staring into space,
Feeling strange emotions that I must embrace.
Stuck with my back up against the wall;
Where was my mistake? Just where did I fall?

Feeling the wrath of love from all too familiar face,
Knowing if I don’t make up my mind, I’ll simply lose this race.
I have a hole to fill, but I don’t know what I lack.
For too long now, my life’s been way off track.

So many worthless mistakes, so much life only to waste,
So many things could fulfill, but those things I cannot taste.
Falling in love—a mystery, I realized, never to be solved,
But I’d like to know the emotion; I’d like to get involved.

I wonder why I bother to try.

 

Manwolf

MANWOLF
by Peter L Richardson, 1990

Darkness settles over the town
as the night of the full moon begins.
My face turns to a wretched frown
as I take possession of immortal sin.

The strong winds chill me to the bone.
My last human thought I scowl:
—I pray there is no one alone—
Mind turns rage, throat caught in a howl.

Find my fair maiden up around the bend.
Hair bristles up my body—I’m ready to attack.
Cut her off in midscream as my claws descend:
Feast on my first meal as she lay in my lap.

The midnight bells of church chime loud.
I desire more blood, I hunt for my prey.
Approach an old barn, slip in without sound,
Enough food here to last me till day.

Light burns my eyes; I feel the relief of day.
Cold sweat soaks my body and I vomit.
Woke up naked in blood soaked hay.
—How did I get this far in the country?—
Where will I be when the next full moon hits?

Life’s A Beach
by Peter L Richardson, 1990

Lost on the lonesome shore,
all alone,
the waves beating down,
hard, warning me.

The seagulls screech in pain,
     “GET OUT!”
I am violating their turf:
Treading on through the badlands.

The sun beats down in hellish heat;
I feel the skin on my back peel and burn.

I must get more than my feet wet from now on…

The water shocks my system,
Tells me to go back from the pain,
     back to safety.

I walk on, the huge waves beating me,
     crash down upon me.
Must not be taken down by the undertow!

     Gotta take it real slow…

I go under
     into the deep blue
          swimming blindly

               through the unknown…

from Word Magazine '90

“Words dissemble. Words be quick. Words resemble walking sticks. Plant them. They will grow. Watch.” –James Douglas Morrison

Pete Richardson, by Mr. Schoch

Pete
by Darrell Jesonis, 1989

Always ready to make an extra buck,
Always ready to lend a hand.
He’ll let you know if he’s down on his luck,
He’s been possessed by the Tidy Bowl Man.

Our favorite place is at the Old Bridge,
Where stupid, sappy couples got to kiss.
We hang over the edge and laugh at the saps,
Having nothing to do but whistle and piss.

Have a problem? Pete’s there in a flash;
It’s like he planned it out before he got up.
If it’s a fight with your folks or the zits on your back,
He’ll listen and nod and sip coffee from a cup.

I can’t say much about the life he’s living.
It’s just so crazy…I couldn’t even start.
But I’ll tell you a little about the words he’s giving:
Every single one came straight from his heart.

Technoclones
by Peter L Richardson, 1989

You push those buttons to do your work for you;
If you have a problem, well you just sue.
Destroying the earth with your machinery;
You say you need truth? Why not just let it be?

Technology is destroying more than it’s creating.
Don’t you know we’ll self-destruct if you keep taking?
Techoclones killing off every kind of creature—
We need to slow down to preserve our sweet nature.

America, America,
God shed His grace on thee,
But we f*@&ed it up, we screwed it up,
From sea to blackened sea!

We have this life to live only for a little while,
Get out from behind that desk and try to smile.
So worried to discover the wonders of the universe,
Not caring that you destroy the wonders of the earth.

The Power To Fly
by Peter L Richardson, 1989

If you had the power to do what you want,
Would you take care of it, or would you have fun?

If you had the brains to solve the world’s problems,
Would you get rich and not even care?

If you could fly as high as the sky,
Would you save me, or would you let me die?

Love is Going Outta Style
by Peter L Richardson, 1989

I’m gonna give you up, ‘cause baby your love’s too hard for me.
We gotta break it up, do you think that I can’t see?
You have other men— Now, honey, I know they’re not just friends.

"Love is goin' outta style..." -PLR, '89

 What ever happened to love?
Looks like it went out of style.
What ever happened to love?
Can’t someone stay for a while?

They say a man’s love— that’s the one that’s evil.
I know that’s a lie ‘cause, a woman’s games—now that’s what’s evil.
If I don’t find real love in a while,
     well, I know, I know, love is goin’ out of style.

"Ode To The Marlboro Man" -PLR, '89

Identity Crisis,

September 18, 2010

…a short autobiographical reflection on Adolescence.

Pete & Grandpop

During the transition from childhood to adulthood adolescents are faced with many new challenges in life. Not only are they changing rapidly physically but they are developing mentally as well. For the first time they find themselves pondering deeper questions such as “Who am I?” or “What is my place in life?” No longer comfortable in the role of a child and not yet an adult, adolescents are searching for places to fit in, searching for answers to questions of meaning and purpose, seeking to define who they are. In short; they are searching for identity. People who come from a strong and stable family and live in a healthy environment will experience the least anxiety about who they are. However, families that are broken or dysfunctional or even just unable to define a strong set of beliefs will most likely leave a child distraught and searching for structure and meaning in life. While there are definite skills and strategies parents can learn to help bridge their children into adulthood, the reality is that no family is perfect. Every person must face the challenge life offers to discover what he is made of and what he believes in.

Although they have managed to get past their problems, my parents were in conflict with each other when I was an adolescent, so I was unable to find any sense of identity from my family. After my sixth grade year I left a private school were everyone pretty much looked the same and moved to a public school in the seventh grade. This was a culture shock for me and it was really the first time that identity became an issue for me. Not because it was something I thought about, much less tried to define, but rather because “identity” was something that happened to me.

In the seventh grade I was still a boy. I didn’t fit in with most of the kids in school, but I found a group in which to find shelter with. We discovered that if you didn’t bother the popular kids or the bad kids, they pretty much left you alone. All we were interested in was getting through the day, so we could get home to our afterschool cartoons. When we got together, we played GI Joe, our bikes were still used for pleasure, and the topic of conversation was often about who would win if Batman or Spiderman would get in a fight. And I think we were genuinely happy. 

Eighth grade was when I discovered that girls weren’t really icky. But this new awareness also brought me to my discovery of who I was. Plain and simple, I was a geek. I couldn’t help but notice who was getting the girls attention, as well as notice the huge gulfs between us that marked our differences. I accepted my fate and took my place among the geeks and the nerds, but I wasn’t happy any longer.

Before ninth grade came around, I decided that I needed to be cool. I was tired of being teased and abused. I had already tried my hand with the upper class popular kids and was laughed out of that crowd, so I turned to the rebels of my generation; I had become a Headbanger. We were the kids with long hair, in black heavy metal t-shirts, jeans, jean jackets and boots, no matter how hot or how cold it got. We were the rebels of our time, but even then I knew the truth about us, we were all rejects of some form and we found this tough guy persona in order to hide our pain. Most of us were good kids, but once you adopt an identity like that in a culture that is full of stereotypes, you fall into what the expectations are for your group. By the end of ninth grade I was cutting most of my classes and getting stoned on a pretty frequent basis. I practically failed my freshman year, but that was okay; the important thing was that I had friends who were cool and nobody abused us. Besides, why would I want to identify myself with a bunch of snobs who were too good for me? I wanted nothing to do with their world and this society that centered on their selfish material interests and popularity games, so college and high school were of no importance to me.

Ironically, my drug use helped me find my way back to something like a purpose in life. Somewhere in tenth grade, I realized that I didn’t really like heavy metal all that much, but I had discovered some really good music from the late sixties and early seventies. I unconsciously molded into a hippie, but I was still stuck in the late eighties. I liked the concept of peace and love, and I admired the previous generation’s attempts to “change the world,” but I saw their attempts as failures. I discovered Jim Morrison of the Doors, and I began reading his poetry and tried to decipher his words. Jim Morrison was aware of the hypocrisy of his generation. He saw that mankind on his own was unable to create any true society of “peace and love.” He didn’t offer any solutions, but he made clear the problems in his time. He was also interested in spirituality and, to put it mildly, was a bit obsessed with the afterlife. Soon I started reading works by authors and poets who influenced Morrison, and in turn I began my own search for meaning and truth in this life. I also began writing my own poetry and expressed the ideas of my search through my works. I had slipped into an identity of a poet-philosopher, and I was completely at home there. I used to joke with my friends that it was too bad you couldn’t get paid to sit around and think, like those old guys from ancient Greece, but I really didn’t have any direction or confidence in myself.  Eventually, my poetry gained the attention of one of my teachers who made a large impact on my life. She took an interest in my work and challenged me to do something with my ideas.

“If there’s so much wrong with the world,” she would say, “why don’t you do something to change it.”  I would always answer her that there was no use; no one can really make any difference. In time she became a mentor for me and her praise instilled confidence in my abilities and added self-esteem to my identity. One day she boldly asked me if she had made any difference in my life. I answered in an absolute affirmative, and she asked why I thought I couldn’t do the same for someone else. She made me realize that since she impacted my life for the better, that human beings, including myself, really could make a difference in the world, even if it was just a few people at a time. She was the first person to plant the idea of teaching in my head. Though it has grown and been refined, this is the main identity that has stuck with me throughout the years. Because she saw something of worth in who I was, she made me realize the value in who I could become. I learned that my potential is much greater than the weaknesses that hold me back as long I keep the vision before me and continue to walk it out. I was lucky enough to receive these foundational principles in my identity as a teenager; they have stuck with me, and they have helped me define my beliefs and have helped to build my confidence in the man I am today.

Peter L Richardson
Fall, 2002

“He who loves his wife loves himself.” 

"Song of Solomon" by Susan Sanders

“How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love, with your delights! Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.’ May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine.”   –‘The Lover,’ Song of Songs 7:8-9a.

“’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” –The Apostle Paul, Ephesians 5:31-33.

It has been preached for ages that in a marriage the man is the head and that a woman should submit to her man, and there is ample Biblical scripture to support this; however, I believe that over the years men have often abused this authority given to them by God, and those who do are in danger of breaking the covenant made before God to love and cherish their wives “till death do you part.” I believe a closer reading of scripture reveals God’s call for a man to treat his wife as an equal; in fact, the authority that God gives men over women in marriage has little, or nothing, to do with their superiority, but rather is simply symbolic of Christ’s authority over the church. It is closer to the truth, in my opinion, that man’s authority over a woman does not equal superiority, but it reveals that man has a greater responsibility in the marriage to lay down his life for his wife as Christ does for the church. A man’s headship and authority is only as strong as his willingness to serve his wife in love and sacrifice. Therefore, there is a high call from God for men to protect their women.*

One of the hardest verses for women in the Bible is 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Paul tells his protégé: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” This implies that women bear the brunt of the curse because Eve was first deceived by Satan, but the scripture says that Adam “was with her” during that conversation (Genesis 3:6); why was he so willing to bite the fruit she offered him? We must trust that God’s judgment in scripture is just; however, men share just as much of the blame for mankind’s fall as women. In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul discusses the complexity of the role of men and women in the church. He begins the passage with, “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (verse 3). He then goes onto talk about how men and women should worship and minister in the church: men with their head’s “uncovered” and women with their head’s “covered.” This, I believe, is meant to be symbolic of the authority of Christ over his church body, because in verses 11-12, Paul states, “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” Likewise, in Galatians 3:28, Paul states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The authority that God has given men over women has nothing to do with merit. God is a God of order and he has designed marriage to symbolize the unity and intimacy he desires to have with those who choose to follow him, the church. Any man who attempts to use scripture to dominate his woman does not understand his call and role in the marriage and does not have the love of God in him.

This is the order that Paul lays out for us in Ephesians 6:22-30: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy…In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies…, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.”  However, in verse 21, in reference to the whole body of Christ, Paul exhorts us to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Does this call for all believers to “submit to one another” become null and void when a (spiritual) brother and sister get married? I don’t think Paul is stating that. Most translators attach verse 21 to the section before verses 22-33, and separate it from the Paul’s instructions on marriage; however, I think the call for mutual submission is the introduction of the marriage passage. What Paul is making clear in his instructions is that in a marriage the man’s call to lay down his life for his wife is symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice for the church. In that sense the man represents the image of God as the person of Christ.

The notion of equality in marriage can be seen as far back as the Garden of Eden. When God created the Earth and everything in it, including Adam, he declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18. That helper was Eve. The Hebrew word for “helper” is “Ezer,” and the only other time it is used in the Bible is in reference to God himself being mankind’s “helper.”** In that sense, the woman represents the image of God in what I believe is the person of the Holy Spirit. In The Gospel of John, Chapters 14-16, Jesus later tells his disciples that he will send the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to guide them into truth and to comfort them when needed. Anyone who has been around a healthy marriage knows that the woman has the dual role of being the voice of reason when her man wants to go and do something impulsive and stupid, and at the same time she gives him comfort when the trouble of the world is overwhelming him.

Getting back to the Garden, Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This implies, or even states, that male and female together (working in harmony, of course) is the closest that mankind can get to representing “God’s image.” Apart from each other, males and females are only half the picture of God. We are incomplete; we are two pieces of a puzzle that fit together to form the full image of God.*** If we were the same, there would be no point in joining together. But if men on their own represent a piece of the Trinity in Jesus, and women are symbolic of the Holy Spirit, where does that leave the image of the Father? It is the very act of joining together in intimacy and procreating that gives a husband and wife the image of the Father. God’s first blessing and command to Adam and Eve is to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). God doesn’t just reveal himself to mankind as our Creator, but as our Father—as our parent. Though he reveals himself in the masculine, there are many passages in scripture in which God gives himself what are traditionally feminine qualities, especially, when he takes on the role as a parent. (i.e. “O Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34). This is the mystery that Paul speaks of when he states that a husband and wife in unity represent the role of Jesus and the Church. It is through the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ that the Church is able to have the power to complete the great commission and to go into all the world and make, or produce, disciples of all nations. The more obedient the Church is to Christ, the more people will be drawn into the kingdom of God and be “born again of the Spirit” (John 3:1-21). This is why Jesus calls himself the Bridegroom (the Lover), and the Church the Bride (the Beloved). I can think of no better argument for equality in a marriage than this: that it is through the joining together of a man and a woman that the image of God is revealed in mankind. But though we are equal in value and necessity, we are not the same.

Scripture supports that men and women are wired differently in the way that Paul instructs a husband and wife to treat each other. He commands the woman to respect her husband, but he commands the man to love his wife. Paul’s not just talking about roses here; the Bible has a very hard definition of love (see 1 Corinthians 13 for a summary). It is good through and through, but it is work. A man truly loving his wife requires that he respect her also, but Paul emphasizes different actions from the man and the woman because both have different needs. However, each person’s needs in the relationship are just as valuable as the other’s. As stated in Ephesians 6:21, we are called to be mutually submissive to one another. It is when each spouse is looking out for the other’s needs and good before his/her own that they are truly expressing love and respect towards each other, and that is when their relationship will be most at harmony. It is when one or the other, or both, inevitably becomes selfish in their sin-nature that the unity and harmony breaks up, but Jesus says, “What God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:9). When two mature believers in Christ join together in marriage before God and the church, it is for life. There are no escape clauses in God’s contract. A tearing apart of this contract is literally a tearing apart of souls. In this very teaching Jesus reminds us that the scripture says “the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

True love requires intimacy, and true intimacy requires genuine communication. Both parties in the relationship need to be open and vulnerable, and both need to be willing to share and to listen. This is one of the reasons our society has such a high divorce rate now. Americans equate intimacy with sex and think that is enough to make a relationship work and make each spouse feel secure. In an appropriate and life long committed  relationship between a man and woman, intimacy will lead to sex, which ultimately ties the two souls together, but even in a marriage, sex without true intimacy is just an orgasm; the feeling doesn’t last. Too many spouses live their lives together, but they don’t really know each other. They never allow themselves to know and to be known; therefore, there really isn’t any relationship at all. This is how a successful marriage works: Both parties have full access to each other’s hearts—their hopes and fears. They truly know what makes the other one happy, and if each spouse desires to please the other more than themselves, then each will make the other happy and each will be happy. Unfortunately, sin has made each of us selfish, and it is not as easy as it sounds.

It works the same way with Christ, the Bridegroom, and his beloved Bride, the Church.  We spend time listening to Christ by reading the Word (the Bible) and being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and we communicate our heart to him through prayer, but it is through worship that we are able to be intimate with God. It is in the act of worship that our spirits are joined together in a deeper fashion with the Holy Spirit of God. God is with believers in his fullness literally all the time, but while we are in a sinful state, we lack full access to him because of our flesh, our doubt, or our just plain busyness. To use the husband and wife metaphor again, they both can be laying in bed together, but they must each choose to engage in intimacy if they want to become “one flesh.” Jesus, as the Bridegroom, will always be a gentleman as he pursues his Bride, so the bride must choose to allow him in. We can have this intimacy with our God anytime, but purposeful and focused worship gives us the opportunity to shut out the rest of the world and focus solely on the Lord as we give him honor, praise and adoration. When we approach our God in worship it leads to greater intimacy with him—our spirits touch the Holy Spirit more deeply, and we come away from the experience with greater healing and energy, and with more peace and spiritual strength. Just as a husband and wife need dates and intimacy to continue to grow together, we need special focused time with our Creator to grow in the fullness of maturity. This special time does not and should not be the same every time and for every one, but every Christian should spend quality time in God’s presence. Sometimes we need to cut loose and dance like a fool before him; sometimes sitting in silence and meditation will do. I think it just boils down to a true and personal expression of love.

Peter L Richardson

*Because of scriptures that talk about women being submissive to men, many modern readers of scripture look at the Christianity as sexist, but nothing can be farther from the truth. In the times the Bible was written, including the New Testament, most women were usually regarded as property. They were either owned by their fathers or their husbands. They had very little rights without the partnership of a man. Christianity was instrumental in teaching men to treat women with love, honor and respect, and while the Bible states that a women should not have authority over a man (I believe this is only in reference to spiritual authority in the church), there is evidence that both Jesus and Paul allowed women to take places of high importance in their ministries and in the church in general.

**see John and Stasi Eldrege’s book, Captivating.

***I want to emphasize that what I mean by incomplete is simply the picture or image of God in humanity. I do not want to imply that those who are called to be single are any less whole or valuable than those who are called to be married. Paul even tells us that those who are single have the freedom to focus on the Lord and on serving him in the kingdom, while a married couple must focus on their relationship and family needs. The puzzle analogy is a bit deceiving in that it takes a lot of work before and after the marriage vows before a couple can really fit together like puzzles pieces. It is a fallacy, I think, that a man or a woman can complete the other. Mature marriages start out with whole and healthy people who compliment each other, but are willing to make sacrifices in the areas where they don’t. Those who have already practiced “dying to self” for Jesus will find it easier to sacrifice their desires for their spouse when called upon to do so, but of course it all depends on help and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Peter L Richardson