Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot, but one thing we did have:
The Dollar Movie Theater.
Ah, yes, the glorious home of sticky floors, busted arm rests, and movie reels that would quit playing in the middle, forcing us to wait a half hour or more to finish what we started.
Three hours for a re-run of Bambi? Check!
As far as I was concerned, that theater was the only one that existed- for us, it was the first run theater.
I used to love to pay in spare change- dimes, nickels, and pennies loaded up on the counter for that teenager behind the window to count.
And snacks? Who wanted to pay $5 for 6-month old display M&Ms, when you could sneak in your mom’s cookies (and popcorn, if you had a jacket)?
It was a cheapskate’s dream come true-and I followed my passion for cheap movies past college and into my 20-something single days (One time two buddies of mine, on a whim, pulled into the dollar theater and caught three movies in one day, back-to-back-back: The Insider, the Bone Collector, and the Sixth Sense. By the end of the third one, I wasn’t just seeing dead people, I was seeing double of every kind of people!).
Over time, I came to fully and righteously believe that regular, everyday, down-to-earth, normal, and financially conscious Christian people would never dare pay full price for a movie ticket! Only shallow, let’s-throw-money-out-of-the-window kind of people would dare go to a first run theater, and anyone with a semblance of a conscience would avoid the candy counter like the plague.
So you can imagine my shock, horror, and even moral outrage, when, on my first date with she-whom-I-would-marry, she decided she wanted to go to the movies at a theatre in Westwood, California (where they hold all those movie premieres), where it cost $8.50 a ticket for a matinee in the year 2000! And then I honestly nearly passed out when, after getting our tickets, my head cleared long enough for me to see her, now moving in slow motion, making a beeline for the snack station in the back, and feeling very free to order up a large coke, popcorn, and giant candy.
That’ll be 21.75 for the snacks, sir.
What! What was this girl doing? Was this some kind of test? Was she determined to find the bottom of my bank account on the first date?
And now, put that scene on repeat for 13 years, and you have our marriage.
Full of compromise, forgiveness, attempts at understanding, talking it out, and laughing about it later.
But one thing we haven’t done and won’t ever do- give up on each other. We stay together til death or inflated candy prices do us part.
And that’s pretty much how Carrie and I feel about the church.
Lots of working it out, lots of believing the best, lots of talking it through and hearing the other party out about the insanity of the behavior we have just witnessed or have just displayed.
When my cheapskate-ness and her don’t-crush-my-dream mantra collided, it wasn’t pretty at first, but over time, the close-quarter tension has produced something that staying to ourselves never could:
Are you in the middle of a challenging relationship in your church? Let me encourage you to stick it out. Work it out. Hug it out. Pray it out.
Love, we are told, is supposed to bear all things.
Even bank-busting trips to the candy counter at a real movie theatre.