Steve and I have just celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary. It was a great time to look back and celebrate together all that God has done in our lives as a married couple. We laughed together as we thought about how young and naïve we were as got married and moved right into the parsonage of a small country church to begin our ministry life together. Both of us brought a trunk full of emotional baggage combined with some strong opinions and unrealistic expectations. Some might have thought, their marriage won’t last. So why has it worked? What made us stick together?
I have a few reflections;
We had a greater purpose for our marriage than just happiness. Were we happily married? Sure. On most days. Were there days we wondered, “What on earth have we done?” You bet. But, on good days and bad days, both of us were fully committed to bringing God glory through our marriage and both of us were fully convinced that we would be able to do that better as a couple. Early in our marriage, Steve verbalized that he wanted our marriage to be a conduit and not a cul-de-sac. In other words he wanted our marriage to have an outward focus. Together, we agreed that we would focus as a couple on knowing Christ and making Him known. When we got married the verse written on our invitation was, “That with one heart and mouth we might glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:6). Many times through our married life, I returned to that verse as a reminder.
We learned along the way that only Jesus could meet our deepest needs. Both Steve and I brought emotional neediness to our marriage. As in any marriage there were disappointments along the way. Steve was not the eternal romantic I imagined him to be and I was not the brave adventure girl he imagined me to be. But, we learned how to let Jesus meet the deepest needs in our lives and love each other out of the overflow of a full cup rather than continually trying to fill our emotional cups with each other. As we learned to praise Jesus Christ that He alone was able to fill our deepest longings we felt free to give each other grace.
We apologized and committed to growing to better love each other. Steve and I are different. He loves the mountains. I love the ocean. He craves adventure. I crave security. But, we are alike in many ways. We’re both visionaries. We’re both strong communicators. We’re both leaders. That combination adds up to arguments from time to time as we both are convinced our idea is the “right” one. But, we’ve learned that an apology combined with a willingness to change and adapt goes a long way.
Marriage is a beautiful incubator for birthing Christ-like-ness. At the end of the day, God is concerned with changing both Steve and I into a beautiful picture of Jesus. He wants our marriage to reflect the message and love of Christ to a hurting world. Have we always done that well? No. Do we continue to keep that focus? Yes. Steve and I love each other deeply. We keep the main thing, the main thing, knowing Christ and making Him known. That one truth has kept our marriage anchored through the years. As I conclude this blog post, I want to point you to a new book written by my dear friends, Greg and Julie Gorman, called, Two Are Better Than One.
The reason I love this book is because it focuses on God’s purpose for your marriage. Often it seems that those who are married are focusing on their happiness. What would happen if you shifted your focus to what God has for your marriage? I guarantee you’ll find joy along the way. If you read the book, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.