Early in our marriage I said to my husband, “I wish you had a pouch like a kangaroo so I could hop in and be with you all the time.”
And lest you think he was as creeped out as you inevitably are, he totally concurred. I get non-ironic texts ten years later saying, “I wish you had a kangaroo pouch.”
If I had to describe my husband and I in one word, the word would be together. Because in everything, at least in as much as our flesh can muster, we are that. We didn’t start this way, but, alas, this is where we’ve ended up.
We spend money, just about every cent of it, together. We decide whether or not to buy the nice paper towels together.
We parent together. We choose what cereal the kids should eat and which toy we’re taking away for a week and which My Little Pony episode is inappropriate together.
We preach together. Which means we plan together. We debate together. We tell stories together. We ask questions and read books and talk to wise people together.
We write together. Which looks like brainstorming posts together and editing together and promoting together.
We counsel together, opening our home together and sharing Christ together and offering help together.
We watch cooking shows and read Russian short stories and tweet and pick out clothes together.
We’ve been doing these things together, in increasing frequency and proximity, for eighteen years. And the result is we’re together—in the deepest and truest and most fundamental ways. We understand each other. We anticipate each other. We know how to make each other happy. We feel comfortable and free. We belong.
When the search committee at Round Rock Church of Christ asked Justin to describe our relationship he said we were like two trees who’d been planted too close together so that now our roots are completely intertwined and you really can’t begin to pull them apart.
I think this is the best part of marriage—having someone who’s with you, wherever, whenever, whatever.Together is the fruit of love. And it’s exactly what God wants for us and with us.
Paul writes, “For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” For God, loving us involves being with us—living with us, walking with us, even taking up residence inside us.
God, the Creator, wants to ride around in your kangaroo pouch.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 Paul says, “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”Together means a lot to God; He’s given up a lot to get it. But even God can’t do “together with Him” by Himself. He needs us, fully present and fully engaged.
For me, it’s taken longer to feel together with God than it did to feel together with Justin, and I prefer to chalk that up to physical, touchable, observable presence. It’s easier to forget God’s at the breakfast table when He doesn’t require a glass of orange juice or even a chair. But, at the same time, I know God’s working overtime to fuse our hearts, to transform me and marry my will to His. So maybe I’ve made it harder than it has to be.
Growing in togetherness with God happens when we spend time together with God, just the same way it happens with a person. People who are together do things together.
God has already committed to never-failing, permanent presence. We tend to be less reliable. On our end, togetherness looks like, for one, remembering we’re not alone, not ignoring God at work or in the car or in the drive thru line, waking up to His presence while we make our coffee or listen to the radio or order french fries. Just remembering He’s there changes everything. You’ll start talking to Him and asking Him things and thanking Him for that coffee or the spontaneous nap your kids are taking in the backseat. You’ll start being with God when you remember He’s with you.
Togetherness also looks like doing new and sometimes different things, because when we’re together God has input, and He may not love all our habits and hangouts. Together with God might lead us into practicing purity or abstaining from fast food, it may take us to a widow’s house on a Tuesday afternoon or drive us downtown to work with the homeless. God may open your eyes to nature or awaken your heart to classical music or renew your interest in playing with little kids. Who knows where your relationship with God will take you? But wherever it takes you, God will go together with you.
The last thing I’ll say about together is that it’s built on dependence. People who are together need one another and they act like it.
While you may say God doesn’t need us, and you may be, in one way, right, you’d also be wrong. Because God’s chosen to need us, to depend on us in a number of ways to execute His will and perpetuate His kingdom.
Still, God doesn’t depend on us in the very same way we depend on Him. When we’re dependent on God we stop making our own decisions. We stop trying to do everything on our own. We stop trying to pay our own way. We stop acting like everything depends on us.
And while that’s hard at first, it’s so, so liberating.
Years ago my cousin Tabitha gave a girls’ devo on prayer and she said we should tell God when our pancakes are delicious, and I was so struck by the intimacy of that; the idea of sharing the littlest parts of life with God seemed totally unnatural to me. Now, almost a decade later, I couldn’t live any other way.
A few months ago I went swimming with God, just He and I. I decided to swim in total silence, to listen and be present. I remember the way the cold water felt on my skin and the way the sunlight glistened on the top of the water as I watched from below. It was a beautiful day, full of peace and joy, one I likely won’t forget, and while I sunbathed on the grass with no one beside me, never, not once, did I feel alone.