Our first apartment was in Ocean View. The day I went to see it was a hot one. The power was off and had been since the previous tenants moved out several weeks before we rented the place. When I got to the kitchen and opened the fridge I got a rude surprise. Someone left a box of frozen chopped broccoli in the freezer. It was not frozen anymore. It was a pile of rotten green goop. The smell was like a punch in the face. One minute I was enjoying my new place and imagining how fun it would be to get married and move in, the next minute I was gagging. It took hours of scrubbing, a bottle of bleach, and a week with all the windows open to get rid of the stench. I was so glad I opened that freezer before Tina moved in with me.
If your marriage stinks it’s probably because you or you spouse never looked in the freezer. Or maybe you did but you weren’t willing to do the work to clean up the rotten stuff in there. It could also be you’d rather keep it to yourself. Listen, there is no such thing as being in a fully committed marriage relationship where you can’t or won’t take out each other’s trash. The rotten broccoli belongs to both of you. Open the freezer and admit it is there. Help each other clean it out. If you don’t clean it out you are going to end up with a bigger problem in the end. You’ll end up with a smell that is overwhelming. A smell that gets into every nook and cranny of your life. It will make your spouse stink and your kids stink and everything else stink.
It takes courage to open up places we’ve never opened or opened and then slammed shut and threw away the key, but it is better than rotting from the inside out and taking your family into the rottenness with you. How bad can it be? In the Navy we have a saying about bad days. We’d say to each other, “They can’t take away your birthday.” Right. It was a way of reminding ourselves that the Navy had limits to its power. Whatever bad things are inside of us or our marriages have limits. The gospel speaks of being “born again” and that “the old has passed away and the new has come.” If this is true it is comprehensive. It is a new that comes from beyond our abilities and delivers a re-creation that cannot be taken from us. When things stink don’t run away from them, go after them together with your spouse, but do it in light of what God has done for you. He cleans us so that we are clean and can only be dirty if we insist we are dirty in spite of all the evidence he gives us to the contrary. If your spouse seems hesitant to go there, you go first. Show that you believe the gospel first. Show that you have a clean that is really clean. Gospel clean can’t rub off because its rubbed all the way into us; to our very core.
In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
(2 Corinthians 2:14-16 The Message)