Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Off the Stack: Love to Stay by Adam Hamilton

I fold the socks into a ball, in-side out, just as I washed them. It’s my passive aggressive way of telling him to turn the things right-side out when he puts them in the dirty clothes, for Pete’s sake. I have better things to do with my time than stick my hands into these socks one-by-one and turn the stinky things right-side out. 

It’s one of my pet peeves. Can you tell? 

In his new book: Love to Stay: Sex, Grace, and Commitment, Pastor Adam Hamilton says, 

"…one of the most important things about love, marriage, and sexual intimacy is that it’s hard work. When we fall in love, it seems so easy. But maintaining love over decades—that’s another story."
I wonder if Adam Hamilton turns his socks right-side out before he puts them in the dirty clothes hamper. Probably not. After twenty years of marriage, I’ve learned that some things just aren’t that big of a deal.

But they still annoy me once in a while. 

Sometimes I need reminded of what really matters. Sometimes I need reminded of the bigger picture. That’s what Love to Stay did for me when I read it this week—it gave me the bigger picture. 

Throughout the book the author discusses the results of a Love, Sex, and Marriage survey his church conducted in 2011. The survey was completed by 5,184 people—mostly members of his church in Kansas but also by folks around the country with no religious affiliation. The sample group consisted of both married and single people and was designed to give “a glimpse of broad trends in marriage and dating relationships.” It tells things like the top qualities that single men and women are looking for in a mate, the things our spouses do that make us feel closest to us (sex was much higher on the list for the men), the frequency of sexual intimacy, frequency of conflict, impact of children on marriage, etc. All of these variables are broken down into age ranges. All that data helped give me perspective on a few things in my own marriage. 

Hamilton says that marriage has a mission. 

 “The mission of marriage is for both husband and wife to be helpers, partners, and companions for one another … To be a helper is to seek the best for the person you’re helping—in the way they can best receive it…the help we can bring is to come alongside them, encourage and bless them, and build them up…”
As marriage partners, we are to bless each other, to encourage each other, and to incarnate (“put flesh on”) the love of God for one another. 

Even though I love my husband and try to do nice things for him, I think a lot of things might change around here if I thought of my marriage as a way to bless him. 

I continue to fold, sitting on the steps as I always do and stacking in individual piles. But those socks keep staring at me. As I begin to think about ways I can bless my husband, those socks seem like such a silly thing. Tenderly, I unfold the couplets, turn them right-side out, and couple them back up again. And the way the soft threads hug each other close makes me smile.

Thank you to Abingdon Press for sending me a complimentary copy of Love to Stay for review. Our Sunday School class has done several of Adam Hamilton’s video series over the years and I always appreciate the way he teaches with compassion and deep faith. Love to Stay also has an accompanying DVD series that would make an excellent study for couples.


Elizabeth said...

I came here on my 25th anniversary to link to your playdates and I hear your precious words on coupling socks. What a labor of love. A simple of doing and being love, in a very simple act. Have I told you lately how I love it here.

Maureen said...

Bless His Socks

for Laura

Bless his socks, one

of the pair will go

missing, inevitably

attached to the arm

of a plaid dress shirt

balled inside itself. Bless

his pants, one cuff

always wrong-sided

one leg, maybe both,

with their pockets

full of dimes, nickels,

all laundered money

for the jar put up

to hold the savings

you’ll want for one

rainy day, a Sunday

you’ll spend close

on the couch, the fire

you built the toast

to your skills he’ll

concede as he warms

his feet in your lap,

one of them hunting

for its cover still.

Maureen said...

This was supposed to be in couplets, Laura. Oh, well. Hope you like it.

Laura Boggess said...

Oh, Maureen, it is just delightful. A quick break from work here at the hospital and you made my afternoon. You know how I love your poetry. Do you know, in that interview I linked to yesterday, I tell the story of how Playdates with God was really your idea :). Did I ever say thank you for that? Isn't life such poetry? When we break the lines just right?

Laura Boggess said...

Happy anniversary, Elizabeth! If you do any sock-folding today to celebrate, I think you should read the poem above that Maureen left in the comments. I think it made me love my husbands stinky socks...

Maureen said...

You did thank me, yes.

The poem came immediately to mind as I read this post. Those of us who have washed enough socks have to nod.

And breaking the lines? These just seemed to know how to do that.

Janis Van Keuren said...

Oh, I love this--all of it. The stinky socks, the blessing we're to be to each other. Takes the humdrum out of life, don't you think? Enjoying your conversation below.

Janis Van Keuren said...

I like it, too!

smoothstones said...


Lisa notes... said...

This sounds like an inspiring book. I'll have to add it to my wish list.

Love this:
"As marriage partners, we are to bless each other, to
encourage each other, and to incarnate
(“put flesh on”) the love of God for one another."

pastordt said...

Lovely, as always. Yeah, those socks are a bane of my existence, too. He swears he turns them right side out. . . but he does not. So, I do. It's a small thing, but it's something.

Mia said...

Dear Laura
Oh, you are such a authentic gem!!! No fakery involved here. I couldn't help thinking about our vows "for better or for worse". My Hubbie has this thing that he considers his way if doing things are the universal and excepted way. But I need to add that he doesn't mind reminding me of this for the last 28 years in such an amicable way that I have learned to just roll his good advice out and fold it right every time my sweetie "reminds" me!
Blessings XX

Elizabeth said...

Maureen, I love this. Priceless wonderment. :) love the playful dailiness, the sock conundrum was never told so poetically.

lindalouise said...

Just taking a moment to tell you how you have been on my heart. We are in your neck of the woods (sort of). We are on our way to Williamsburg right now. How I wish we could visit. Sending you love from this beautiful place.

Laura Boggess said...

I pray your travels have been sweet. Thank you for thinking of me as you pass by our little state :). It makes me smile to think of you driving through. I'm still keeping you in prayer, my friend. And sending you love.