The Cost and Beauty of Marriage

"Marriage is a steel trap."

I hadn't expected to hear these words. I was a young, newly engaged seminary student taking the first class of a marriage counseling course. The professor, a seasoned marriage counselor in Toronto, began to explain his view of marriage based on his own experience, as well as the hundreds of couples that he'd counseled.

I looked around the room nervously, wondering if it was a joke. It wasn't.

"Marriage will bring you more heartbreak than any other relationship you'll experience," he continued. "But it will also bring you more joy. It is the hardest but also the most fulfilling human relationship you will ever have."

Of all the advice given to me before I was married, this ranks among the best. It prepared me for the times that marriage has been difficult. There's a cost in committing oneself to another sinner for better and for worse, and the more we're prepared for that cost, the better off we'll be. I'm glad that I was warned to expect hard times in marriage, because they've come. It's easy to recite part of the marriage vows (for better, for richer, in health) and think the latter half (for worse, for poorer, in sickness) won't apply.

But I'm glad that I was told that marriage would bring me so much joy. This relationship that has exposed so much of my sinfulness, that has sometimes left me frustrated and both of us in tears, has also been the relationship that has brought me more joy than I could ever imagine or deserve. When I look at my wife, I realize how much I've been blessed.

There's suffering in this thing called marriage, but there's more joy than you can imagine. Somehow they exist together.

There's one more piece of advice I heard as a newly engaged man. "You think you're in love now?" an older man asked. "Wait a couple of decades, and then you'll know what love is." Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. I think I'm beginning to understand what he meant.

What a ride; what a combination of cost and disproportionate reward. This is the beauty and the cost of marriage. I'm grateful.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Clarity

If you asked me which virtue I undervalued before, but value now, it wouldn't even be close. Hands down, I'd say clarity.

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Personal Clarity

Personal clarity is knowing who you are. It's being clear about your identity, what you value, and what you're good at. Without personal clarity, it's difficult to set a course for life, or to evaluate choices. It's a process of discovery more than invention. It's hard work, but it pays off in spades.

I appreciate Will Mancini's work on personal clarity. I've also appreciated Younique Ability by Strategic Coach, Why You Can't Be Anything You Want To Be by Arthur Miller, as well as Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer. Personal clarity is key.

Preaching Clarity

Haddon Robinson writes, "For preachers clarity is a moral matter. It is not merely a question of rhetoric, but a matter of life and death." Getting clear on the message of the text, and knowing how to clearly communicate that message to the audience in front of you, is crucial. Clarity is essential to good preaching.

Leadership Clarity

Marcus Buckingham says, "Clarity is the preoccupation of the effective leader.  If you do nothing else as a leader, be clear."

I know why clarity is so rare: it's costly. Its cost, though, is also what makes it so valuable.

Pursue clarity. As Will Mancini says, "Clarity isn't everything, but it changes everything."

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Four Post-Vacation Reflections

One of the most revealing moments is the drive home from a vacation. I find that when I'm away for a couple of weeks, I become more aware of how I'm really doing. Problems that I've ignored bubble to the surface. Apprehension and hope flood the soul as I return closer to home.

I just returned from vacation last week. As we drove home from Montreal to Toronto, I had the opportunity to reflect. Here are four things I observed.

I am blessed to be a church planter.

Having been away from Liberty Grace Church for a couple of weeks, I couldn't wait to get back. That's a good feeling. Church planting is hard, and I've faced my share of frustration. Being away, however, reminded me that I am a blessed man. I am part of a small, new church with people I love, in a community I love. It is an unspeakable privilege to pastor them, and to look for ways to reach people who've never heard the gospel. I am incredibly blessed.

I am an idolatrous man.

I did sense some apprehension on the way home, and it had to do with me. Specifically, I found myself wrestling with some insecurities about my leadership. While I want to be a good leader, I realized that some of my insecurities have to do with proving myself, even wanting to make a name for myself. It sounds silly when I say it, but it's true.

While on vacation, I realized again that ministry can flow out of my relationship with Jesus, but it can also flow out of my insecurities and need to prove myself. It's the difference between being called and driven. I need to pay attention to this issue in my soul.

I have been too busy.

While on vacation, I read Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much. I was reminded of some important lessons in this book, and I'll write about them on Thursday. As a result of reading this book, though, I've made some simple but hard changes in how I work, and it's making a difference. I need to make sure that I'm not too busy to get to my most important work.

My identity is found in my relationship to Christ.

There's something about taking a break from our regular routines to recenter on what is most important. I am a lot of things: a husband, father, church planter, and friend. Most importantly, I'm an adopted Son of the King, a child of God, a co-heir with Jesus. I forget it regularly, but I'm glad I remembered it while on vacation. There are few things more important in my life than remembering who God is, and who I am in relation to him.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

On Vacation

I'll be back to blogging on Saturday, August 15.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Arthur Dash (1950-2015)

I lost my most frequent commenter this week. More than that, I lost my brother — half-brother, to be precise, but really my brother.

Arthur Dash was born in 1950 in South Africa. When he was four years old, his mother died of pneumonia. Shortly after, his father remarried, but the marriage lasted only six months. When Arthur was nine, his father remarried again. When he was 17, his father kicked him out of the house, right around the time I was born to his step-mother.

Arthur had a hard life. For some years, we had no contact with him. He viewed himself as the black sheep of the family. I met him for the first time as a young adult in 1988, and we began to see him more frequently, along with his wife Patti.

Arthur was what you’d call a complicated personality. He had a deadly and shameless sense of humor, often at his own expense. He was kind and generous. He loved the Lord. But he also had his issues with churches, occasionally struggled with depression, and he was honest about his hurts and struggles.

Arthur with his father in 2006

Arthur with his father in 2006

In 2006, a month before our father’s death, he travelled to England to pay his respects. After the trip, he wrote:

All in all, I enjoyed the trip. I am much more at peace with myself and Dad, having had the opportunity to see him and tell him I love him. When we left him on Saturday, and I repeated that last statement, he actually said, "Me too!" 

Arthur was a frequent commenter on this blog. More recently, he would email his comments. When I moved from pastoring to church planting, he expressed surprise that I would “start a church from the ground up” and “be the jack of all trades.” But then he wrote:

It is God who gives us the desires of (in) our hearts, and He who calls us to travel the paths He has chosen for us. It is also God who made the maps and leads and guides us on our journey, and He who has promised to supply us the necessities along the way. All I can do is stand in the gap and support you as you follow the calling on your life.

He gave me this advice: “Just remember that your very survival in your new adventure depends on your dependency upon God, His Son, and The Holy Spirit.”

When we were going through a difficult period, we emailed him, along with other family members. Arthur replied:

I was up most of the night, thinking and praying. Maybe I have found my purpose after all? Even the marines need tactical support, you know! I may not be capable of front-line ministry, but I am capable of prayerful support of those who fight in the trenches!

He would regularly encourage me in our church planting efforts:

Bro., I wish I lived closer to you. This is the kind of church I would love to be a part of, at least judging by your Mission Statement.

I pray that you continue, successfully, to be weak and helpless, and to be the church that God has called you to be. 

His last email to me was characteristic of his humor. He described a recent fall in which he hit his head. When I told him I was sorry to hear this, he told me that he thought it was “hilarious” and that “At my age one no longer has any pride…And, no my head did not hurt. There would need to something in there for it to hurt.”

I was going to see Arthur this coming Saturday, but sadly, I’ll have to wait longer now. Arthur died in his sleep this past Tuesday, June 23.

He wrote this poem eleven days ago. “Not particularly good, but it's the best I could come up with during my personal worship,” he said.

I loved you because You first loved me.
Savior. Redeemer. You are everything to me.
My Fortress, my Banner. My hands towards heaven I raise.
My Healer. Provider. You are worthy of all praise.

I loved you because You first loved me.
You became a Man, and died upon a tree,
And conquered Death, Almighty God, 
Joint Heir, Son of Man, dare I make You Lord?

Yes, we loved You because you first loved us.
Upon a cross You were nailed and trussed.
A crown of thorns upon Your head.
You died that we may live instead.

Oh, What A Wonderful Savior!

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.