It's amazing how gentle and godly people can be transformed into impatient and self-righteous monsters by entering their motor car. These are folk who would be quick to open the door for others, help passersby with their shopping and acknowledge their faults in public. But put them behind the wheel and they can do no wrong (in their eyes) and almost everyone else is an enemy to be defeated. I know this because I am one of them!

I was pondering why this change occurs with some friends yesterday. It's very similar to the problems most people face in marriage. In that they seem to treat the person they love the most in the world with a special type of negligence and an occasional unkindness, that they wouldn't visit on the family dog if it poohed beside the bed and they trod in it. Why when surrounded by the security of a marriage relationship do most of us seem to be not terribly nice some of the time? 

The answer lay with the trampoline.

When we got our kids their trampoline we were given some advice by a physiotherapist who worked with disabled children on trampolines. Don't get a net to go around the outside. It's safer. 

Now surely this defies all logic. They tend to be called safety nets for a reason. It's in the name! But apparently when children don't have a net they are forced to learn to bounce in the middle and in a slightly (only very slightly in our kids case) more controlled way. But when they have a net round the outside they go berserk. Behaving like people possessed. Throwing themselves off the walls and crashing into each other. That's when they get hurt.

I wonder if this is what our sinful hearts do when we're driving? Once in the secluded safety of our car we subconsciously let our self-centred egotism off the leash. All that matters is getting where I want when I want and everyone else doing what I want. I don't have to think about others.

It's similar in marriage. Once our relationship is surrounded by the safety net of a public legal commitment, we don't bother suppressing our selfishness, because we know that they're not going to walk away and leave us if we nag them about the kitchen or leave them with the kids on our day off... again.

I can't give you Bible chapter and verse on this. But I can tell you that "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

 

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