Greg and I do a lot of premarital counseling. We use a curriculum that attempts to cover all the "hot spots" of marriage, including sex, money, extended family issues and conflict resolution.
Inevitably, no matter how deeply in love the couples are, they discover things they didn't know about each other. Cultural background, family traditions, expressions of faith . . . these and many other areas can be deeply imbedded with unspoken expectations and unwritten rules.
Relational land-mines, so to speak.
Our job is to help the couple navigate safely through the rocky terrain, assuring them that differences aren't necessarily good or bad--but they can create conflict. And conflict isn't a always a negative thing--it actually helps us to grow if we approach it with biblical principles.
Mostly we succeed in helping couples sort things out, but I've heard that 10% of couples who go through premarital counseling decide not to get married because of the issues that are unearthed.
And that's actually a good thing. It saves a lot of heartache in the end . . .
All this to say, it feels like our past year at Cornerstone was an engagement period that didn't result in the anticipated union. During our brief time here, it became increasingly clear that Greg (and I) were not a good fit for Cornerstone culture.
I remember discussing this whole "culture" thing with Greg when we were praying about coming to serve at Cornerstone. Neither of us had a clue what that might look like. We've always been part of the Christian church/Churches of Christ denomination and we know every doctrinal nook and cranny of that movement by heart.
But we didn't really care that we didn't get "Cornerstone culture" because Barry had asked for help and we already loved so many folks in that fellowship.
And we felt like God told us to go.
After 14 months, however, Greg, Barry, and the elders came to the conclusion that this was not a match made in heaven. This has been quite painful for us, but we have felt the Lord's leading in this, too.
Even if we'd gone through a sort of "pre-marital counseling" before we came to Cornerstone, where all the cultural differences and possible sources of conflict had been laid out on the table, I think we still would have come. I have no regrets and am so blessed by the relationships in Jesus I've formed (and strengthened) in such a short time.
I've loved our small group (we'll be getting together for halibut tacos after we get back from Alaska), Cornerstone picnics and retreats, prayer time, work days and Sunday morning fellowship. My Cornerstone highlight was definitely the Ladies' Retreat. I don't think I've ever met a more wonderful, authentic group of women.
My hope and prayer is that our relationships will continue to deepen as we serve the Lord together as part of the universal Body of Christ. After all, Jesus is the chief Cornerstone. And if we are in alignment with Him, no matter where we serve or fellowship, we fit!
"You also, as living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house . . ." 1 Peter 2:5