This week marked our 9th wedding anniversary, and the 12th year that Husband and I have been together. Our marriage has been beaten up and battered, rebuilt and reborn a few times throughout these years… and it has been worth it, even the hard days and the best days.
We’ve given up high-paying jobs, health care benefits, expensive vacations, fancy cars, new houses, and lots of other things for the sake of building our family first and our individual needs or wants much farther behind. For the sake of simplicity. For the lack of money because of the choices we’ve made. For the faith that God has put our marriage and our little family together with a different purpose, which is being slowly unveiled in each twist and turn along our journey through life together.
Some days it feels like a lifetime – maybe because we’ve had three little lives start in that time, plus a dog, hamster, too many fish, and now maybe a couple of rabbits.
Some days it is impossible to imagine what the last twelve years would have been like if we hadn’t been brought together by God, tagging working and non-working electrical appliances in our church basement for a rummage sale.
Some days it is crazy to think that the guy who had never dated before, who fell immediately for the girl, who eventually worked up the courage to ask her out a month later, would be the same guy who gradually became even braver and married that girl with the crazy amount of baggage.
Some days it is wonderful to recall the dozens of things we did together as a couple (for the one year we had alone before our first pregnancy) and for the hundreds of experiences we have had as a family, simply enjoying each other in the little things and the every day adventures.
Some days it is heartbreaking to remember how many lives we’ve lost together – family members, friendships, relationships, and even our life together has been threatened in the past couple of years when the battles overwhelm and overtake us to make us more aware of our need to work harder to overcome them to survive.
Some days it is difficult to realize that, even after all of this time and even after the unending stream of challenges we have faced, we are still learning more about each other every day and with every new struggle and apology.
For as much hype as often surrounds weddings, receptions, and the rest of the drama that somehow finds its way into almost everyone’s “special day,” the marriage itself too often gets lost in the party, the money, and the event. Just watch TLC on a Friday night and see what a fiasco the wedding event itself has turned into…
Marriage is not an event. Marriage is a commitment.
Marriage is not the reception or the drinking or the food. Marriage is about the everything afterward.
Marriage is not about the most glamorous venue or the most drop-dead dress. Marriage is about living life together.
Marriage is about trust and love and pain and faithfulness and sickness and respect and honor and need and so much more.
Marriage is hard. Marriage is work. Marriage is about figuring it out even when you don’t want to. Marriage is about sacrificing your needs for the needs of the other person, for the needs of your marriage, for the needs of your family.
Marriage is not for the frilly, the fluffy, the lighthearted adventurer who thinks it’s going to be fun.
Marriage is tough, even on the best of days.
Marriage is about laying it all out – the good, bad, and ugly, and being accepted, treasured, and loved anyway.
Marriage is about being your weakest and most broken with each other, and trying beyond trying to build up and mend in love.
Husband and I know it all too well.
The honest, ugly truth is that we are going through a brutal time in our marriage and have been for a couple of years, as he has struggled desperately for several years to make a major career decision that will greatly affect our family and my efforts to create a business, our location and our future in every way. The patience levels have long since dwindled. The stress levels between us are now beyond good for either of us, much of the time. Our emotional roller coaster with the whole situation is epic.
It’s not the first time that we’ve faced tough challenges, but it’s the first time that fear and doubt have had such a powerful and strong hold on our hearts, souls, and marriage. It’s not like we aren’t working through it, praying desperately for it, and believing that we’re going to make it through.
It’s just that it’s hard.
It’s hard when the stability that you’ve known gets rattled to the edge of fragility. It’s hard when the relationship you most desperately need is the one that is causing the most pain. It’s hard when the last part of life you cling onto is the same part that you try to push away. It’s hard when the past in your own life threatens to crumble the new life you’re working so hard to create. It’s hard when you don’t know how to break free from the chains that seem to be circling tighter.
But it’s not impossible. It’s just hard, really hard even, but not impossible.
Because we have faith – faith in God, who brought us together in a most unusual way and who kept us together in spite of the personal obstacles we faced, the public awareness of public lives and lack of awareness of the private lives left in secret (when your dad is the minister in a church of 500 members for 25+ years, in a small community with a strong awareness of everyone’s everything, it adds a new element to quietly dating the Preacher’s daughter). but Faith in God who strengthened us through our challenges then and throughout the last twelve years, is the same faith in the same God who is using our current struggles to strengthen us, in spite of ourselves now. “For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 117:2)!
Because we have faith – faith that that which threatens to tear apart is also that which mends together. It is because we love each other and we love our lives together so much, the decisions being made are made more difficult so that we don’t hurt each other. And even though our best attempts to not hurt each other and are family in the future are the same decisions that are hurting us now, eventually we will see the efforts come to helpful and loving fruition. Eventually. Jesus, the ultimate symbol of sacrifice in love for another, said, “‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another'” (John 13:34-35).
Because we have faith – faith in God’s creative ways of pulling Husband and me closer to God independently and collectively, faith in God’s incredibly confusing and sometimes crushing journey that we’re on together. God wants us to stay close to Him, to need us to spend time with Him as He knows the course we’re on better than we do because He loves us. Always. “For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord” (Psalm 33:4-5).
Because we have faith – faith that even the things that are unseen now will be seen some day. Faith that the God of the universe knows the answers to all of the mysteries of the universe, is the same God who loves Husband and me individually and collectively and knows what He has in store for us. Even though we know that that might not be something that is good or feels good along the way, it will definitely be of God. For “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Faith and Love and Perseverance go hand in hand with Marriage.
I just don’t see how marriage can survive without all three, and an awful lot of hard work.
But it’s worth it. Totally and completely worth it all.
Because in the end, we find God in each other and together. Forever.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)