Anyone who knows me in the real world knows that I have many shortcomings. Let’s just be real for a minute…we all do. But the reality of our current society is often lost within the confines of social media. I am just as guilty of this as the next! I love perfectly curated photographs and happy, go-lucky captions, but I have to be honest that those types of captures are the smallest fraction of my life. There’s some pretty ugly and unattractive junk that I’m not so keen on “posting” for the world to see and judge.
On that note, do you know who gets to experience the brunt of my shortcomings? My husband. Any of you who have been married for any duration of time will quickly nod your heads in agreement with me. However, I know that some of you, lovelies, are single or haven’t yet tied the knot. Regardless of where you are at on that spectrum, prayerfully this post will give you a tiny dose of wisdom and foresight into relationships. It is something that I will never fully grasp, but I want to keep on growing in. I know that I need to! I am by no means an expert after 2 years of marriage, but I want to share the little that the Lord has shown me in these past 24 months.
Therefore, dear sisters, in honor of our second anniversary, I am writing you these words of advice…
Marriage is beautiful. It is a great mystery of God how He brings two flawed humans together and knits them together into one flesh. It has been one of the greatest blessings in life for me to be married to my hubby. However, the reality is that we are still two sinful individuals who are saved by God’s mercy but don’t always choose to walk in His grace.
Sometimes (oftentimes…) one or both of us is just plain selfish. Laying down my rights is something that I have always struggled with. I have felt that in life, certain things are a “given” or are “owed” to me. I have felt that I DO have rights. But guess what? That is fallacy number 1. The idea that I deserve anything good is at best arrogant and at worst blasphemous. In light of that, if there is one thing I could ask the Lord for, in regards to marriage, it would be humility. Instead of demanding my way, I want to humbly allow my husband to choose the way. Instead of holding things against him in anger, I want to humbly forgive and forget.
…Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5b)
On that note, when I have asked God for humility, I realized that He does not magically transform my prideful heart into a humble one. Rather, He gives me opportunities to walk in humility and the grace to do so. It is painful. It hurts my flesh. But the rewards are present AND eternal. So I counsel you, ask the Lord for humility in your relationships (whether platonic or romantic,) and watch for opportunities to choose the path of humility. See how He answers that prayer, and see how much it can transform your heart. If we all picked the road of humility, what kind of conflict could claim victory over us?
Before I married my husband, I read a marriage book that greatly challenged me to serve him. Sometimes this has been easy and sometimes not. Sometimes I have been good at it and sometimes not. Many times I have felt like I want him to serve me! But regardless, I keep trying to be better.
One easy commitment that I have made is to create a “haven” of sorts when he comes home from work. I do my best to have the house in a quiet and peaceful state so that he can relax in body, mind, and spirit when he gets off of work. My goal is to have our home picked up, quiet, and dinner ready (or at least in progress…) when he comes home each day. Some days, this goal is not realistic or doesn’t come together, but I aim to make it happen more often than not. Perhaps he will not notice these particular efforts of service, but the joy of providing him with a sanctuary at home motivates me to continue.
…through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13b-14)
My husband works all day so that I can stay home with our children. It is the least that I can do to care for and keep up with the tasks that are my responsibility. I want to be joyful in this service and in doing so, bless him. Serving with a joyful attitude makes all the difference in the world!
One of the hardest parts of loving is when it requires personal sacrifice. When I imagined being married to my husband, I didn’t imagine that our “love life” would look like me watching a toddler all weekend so that he can spearfish or work on his boat. I didn’t imagine that it would look like me saying “no” to things that I really want so that he can have what he wants or needs. I didn’t imagine that it would look like me picking up socks off the floor every morning. Of course this is a two way road, and he could make an equally long (if not longer) list about the ways he sacrifices for me!
Yet the point remains that love is not all flowers and chocolate, and sex. I love those things, but they certainly don’t carry us through the bills that pile up, the stresses that mount, and the duties that constantly call. Real love is action and sacrifice, not gifts and emotions.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
This kind of love is a hard calling, but it is helpful for me to think of these sacrifices as “choosing to love” instead of picturing myself as a victim of the situation. If I sacrifice my preferences for my husband’s and do it as an act of love, I can remain joyful despite the circumstances.
WISDOM AND FORESIGHT
In our two years of marriage, there have been ups and downs in our relationships. However, within the past year, I felt like the Lord revealed to me one of the methods that Satan had been using to attack our marriage. Having this wisdom and foresight in our back pockets has helped us to be more on-guard and to fight his strategy with one of our own – prayer and humility.
If you feel like you are constantly struggling and fighting in a certain area of life (relational or not) ask the Lord to give you supernatural insight into the battle. He can reveal things to you so that you are better equip to defend yourself from the attacks of the enemy. God alone can equip us for the spiritual battles that we face.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13)
These verses remind me too that my opponent is not flesh and blood – my enemy is not my husband. When the rough patches come, I want to yoke up with him and the Lord to counter these attacks against our marriage and stand firm until the end.
This final point is one that I have greatly struggled with in recent months. My blessing and my curse is that I remember most things – the good but also the bad. And I struggle to let those things go. It is so easy for me to take offense. Often times I compound the problem even more by unfairly assigning motives to people for their actions that have hurt me.
The reality is that when I take offense, I only hurt myself. That clinging bitterness perverts my heart and limits my ability to love well. I have experienced many relational woundings from offenses that were not forgiven and resulted in bitterness. Prayerfully I have learned lessons from these errors. I don’t want my marriage to suffer because I was unwilling to let go of an offense!
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)
Jesus, Himself, refused to take offense when He was unjustly condemned to a horrific death (Luke 23:34). If this is the standard that Jesus has set, then I too must lay down my offenses and forgive. After all, God sees all and knows all. He will reward my faithfulness and obedience in these matters.
For those of you who are still single or to those of you in a relationship that is less than what you had hoped for, I urge you: seek the Lord. He alone is the answer to the longings in our hearts. He alone can repair and fix the broken in our lives. Be patient and trust Him in the waiting. His timing is always best. Be pliable and allow Him to work in your heart and change you. You will see the fruit from the process…in time. I am praying for you, lovelies!
These last two years of marriage have been wonderful! I would not trade them for the world! Not only are we closer to one another now, but the Lord has also used us to sharpen one another, to grow our characters, and to make us more Christ-like. I am so thankful for a husband who extends love and mercy and grace and forgiveness to me daily. He is a joy and a delight and I am beyond blessed to be walking through life with him.
And my Love, by God’s great grace, may this be just the beginning of our lifetime of love and oneness. Remember our wedding vows? Two years later, my response is: I (still) do!
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