(so after a really long delay...we continue...)
"It is the hardest thing I do in my life."
I have said that sentence to countless numbers of people.
What was I talking about? I was talking about pursuing a great, Godly marriage.
It just is. The effort I put into having a great and Godly marriage is the most demanding thing in my life and the hardest thing I do every day.
Why is it so hard? Because, once you understand the purpose of marriage, anything less is unacceptable. I can not claim to be a Christian, be married, and be striving for anything less than an amazing, God honoring marriage.
If marriage really is primarily about illustrating the love story of Christ and the Church (see previous blog post), then how can I settle for anything less than the best I can muster each and every day?
As a husband, it demands all that I am (for Christ gave Himself up for the Church).
So, why is it so hard? I mean, if God wants Christian marriages to reflect the greatest love story of all time, why doesn't He just kinda...make it happen? Let's be honest. None of life works that way, right? The best things in life are almost always hard. They're time consuming, effort inducing, and down right exhausting. But...and here's the good part...they're worth it.
So, what is the secret to a great, Godly marriage?
If you think my little ol' blog is going to be able to drop all that wisdom on you in a few paragraphs, I'm sorry to say you are in for a let down. :-)
What I can tell you is that day in and day out my wife and I are committed to loving (I mean real deal, fully committed, all in, Biblical, agape kinda love) each other, working with each other, and never letting down or giving in. Some times and even days love is that amazing feeling. You know that butterfly in the stomach kinda thing? But honestly, many days are filled with multiple choices. I choose to love. I choose to pursue. I choose to not let my hurts or selfishness or anything in between diminish the testimony of the marriage I have been given. I choose marriage.
When we got married, we married as followers of Christ. We both believed that since we were both committed to never getting a divorce and we both loved Jesus our marrieg would be great from the start and never waver. Two years into our marriage we were both wondering if we had spoken too quickly about the not getting divorced part.
You see, no one sat us down and told us that marriage would be hard. That we wouldn't always agree, get along, want to do what the other one was doing, or that we would sometimes just simply want some alone time. No one was honest about the effort a great marriage took.
No one said it would be difficult.
But marriage? A real, great, Godly marriage? It's difficult.
So, why do it?
Because I couldn't imagine my life without my wife. I have learned more from her directly and about myself because of her than any other person. Being married has shown me dimensions about myself I never knew existed. I have seen selfishness, control, pride, arrogance, and immaturity. But I have also seen grace, forgiveness, joy, peace, contentment, and love. (Just to name a few in both those lists)
As you read through Ephesians 5 which I used in my last post, you will see that Jesus is purifying His bride the Church. You see that Jesus demonstrated His love for the Church by laying down His life. You see the Church learning to submit and respect the authority of Jesus. And on and on. Basically, you see a process. You see transformation. You see growth.
It is no different between a man and a woman. Marriage is a journey. It is an adventure. It is transformational. Painful at times? Yes. Exhausting? Absolutely. Difficult? Sure. But it is also so much more.
Exciting. Unpredictable. Interesting. Challenging. Enjoyable.
These are also terms that describe a great, Godly marriage.
I believe without the dynamic that occurs between a man and a woman you lose the wonder, the complexity, and the witness of marriage. In our society, we are going to great lengths to minimize the differences of the genders and to even try to eliminate them all together (take for example Target's recent decision to eliminate grouping toys together by gender).
Yet, Scripture is very clear that marriage is designed to be between two people. It is also very clear that those two people are to be of opposite genders. All of this matters because changing the number or the gender makeup of a marriage affects the struggles and realities within that marriage. Multiple partners create different realities never intended to be dealt with within marriage. Likewise, same genders eliminate an entire host of realities and replace them with others that also were never intended to be dealt with within marriage.
Believe me, the pursuit of a great, Godly marriage is already all encompassing enough without adding extra partners or changing gender realities.
I am honored to be married to my wife. It is my privilege to love her, serve her, honor her, provide for her, and treasure her as the priceless vessel that she is. I have benefited from her love, her support, her counsel, and her personality. It has made me a better man, husband, and dad. I am more like Jesus because of my wife and my marriage to her. She, likewise, is becoming increasingly like the Church as she grows as a woman, a wife, and a mom.
That my dear readers is the ultimate point. That is the highest and truest purpose of marriage. To make us more like Christ and His Church.
What about you? Can you say the same? Is your marriage transforming you? Are you becoming more like Jesus and/or His Church because of your marriage? If you are putting in the demanding effort that marriage calls for, then you will find yourself saying yes to those questions. If you lean towards saying no, let me gently challenge you, encourage you, or call you (pick whatever offends you the least) to dig in deeper. Push harder. Make the extra effort.
A great, Godly marriage is difficult...but all things are possible if you tap into the right power source.
There is always hope for His mercies are new...every morning.