I love living in a very, very old house with a wood-burning stove. I feel like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman on the block system. I like my neighbor’s R&B, and I like knowing the songs of the ice cream truck that drives by every day. When I get to hear the first birdsong in the early morning, I get chills. You know when I also get chills? When it gets below 50 outside and the house has been empty all day.
We have no central heat and it’s all fine and dandy — except for the fact that our planet is such that things get cold sometimes. And Waco is such that winter comes in strong, brief spurts with little predictability. So, we’ve been cold a little. Just a little…
My new favorite thing, though, is watching BJ build fires: (1) it reassures me that we may survive the zombie apocalypse with vigor since I’m married to a survivor man; and (2) there’s a science to it — a slow, ritualistic science that someone passed to him once. And now he’s passing it to me. He’s taught me how to correctly/efficiently blow air on the fire, how to pick kindlin’ (yes, that’s how it’s pronounced), how to stack the wood in the stove, and when to know it’s time to stoke. He’s very, very good at this. I am not. That’s OK.
My first fire was pitiful and didn’t catch for long. I tried to lay a three-foot log in the stove, and, once I realized it was too big, was too afraid to pull it out again because I thought, “Well, what will I do with the burning end once it’s out? Throw it outside? Stick it in the sink?” I genuinely considered the sink option. Then I reconsidered because, well, I’m in “graduate school” and perhaps that makes me sometimes sensitive to reasonably bad ideas. My fire-building skills have not improved.
The Mister’s useful, ritualistic skill got me thinking — particularly about a response to this pesky little claim, in which a well-known pastor states that Christianity is characteristically “masculine.” I don’t chat much about the ideals and rhythms of our marriage, perhaps because the arguments (and there are many) wear me out. We are what the gagglers call egalitarians, but we’re ultimately sensitive to the fact that this is our marriage. Other people do as they will. A friend cleverly calls himself a discernmentarian. I like that — it gives souls some space.
We are also very much a baby marriage. We’re figuring ourselves out, still learning the “us” language. And so, I don’t feel fully ready to say what I believe with an iron fist. But these sorts of claims get under my skin like nails on a chalkboard. The deeply polarizing language of us and them and what is biblical is stifling. The lines we try to draw do nothing to fully show what a marriage relationship is actually like, and these strangely divisive labels of masculine and feminine force us to categorize ourselves in ways far too simplistic to do justice to who we might really be. The language of this “biblical (insert gender)” movement makes us seem weirdly uncomplicated, pushing folks to identify themselves first by their gender and second by their mission.
BJ is the fire builder in our home, and, yes, it’s a fairly “masculine” responsibility, but his willingness to teach and share that skill with me fumbles any labels we might pin on it.
Likewise, I cook nearly every meal in our home. Sometimes, I wear an apron with pink and blue flowers on it. But a list of well-divided, home management tasks does not a “gender role” make. I’m weary of labels that pigeon-hole me into a pre-designated, “biblically ordained,” and “gender appropriate” identity simply because I do a few things that lots of the gals do too. I’m also desperately weary of hearing the agonizing perambulations of this gendered chit-chat in some Christian circles.
I’d really like to make dinner peacefully while my husband splits logs for our living room fire.