Today marks 7 years that my hubby and I have been married. I remember my thoughts on July 1, 2006 well. I was marrying the man of my dreams– a godly Christian man, strong in his convictions and a natural leader. He was dashingly handsome, to boot! I had a head full of dreams and a heart ready to follow this man just about anywhere.
In some ways, I thought I had found my Promised Land. I mean, in a way, I was like those Israelites- wandering around in the desert for 40 years just waiting for what God had in store for them. Marriage to Brent Moore was what God had in store for me. I naively believed that my purpose in life was being fulfilled as I said “I do.” Life would only be uphill from here on out. Psalm 34:3 was the verse on the cover of our wedding program: “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” I thought it would be pretty easy for the newly-wed Moore’s to glorify God together as a couple.
Then marriage actually began. Some of those rose-colored dreams of mine came crashing down pretty quickly. In the 7 years that Brent and I have been married, I’ve learned several invaluable lessons, ones that I need to be reminded of often as we journey together toward glorifying God.
1. Only God Can Satisfy the Deepest Part of Me
It didn’t take me very long to realize that I couldn’t place all my hopes of an amazing life on my husband. As soon as Brent began to disappoint me by not meeting certain expectations, I began to feel a little disillusioned about this whole marriage thing. What happened to my perfect Promised Land??
Jesus offers the solution my heart needs. He says in John 7:37-38:
“If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” (HCSB)
Yes, I was thirsty alright. I was thirsty for a perfect husband to meet all my wishes and desires. It’s a foolish thought, really. It’s as if I was wandering about in the dessert dying of thirst and thinking that if only I could find chocolate cake to satisfy me, I’d live. As delicious as chocolate cake is, it’ll never give me life, when what I most desperately need to live in a desert is water! Jesus speaks to me and says, “I am your water! Look to me and live! Believe in me and you will find life!” Only He can quench that deep thirst in our souls. No husband, no job, not even kids can do that. It’s a daily looking to Him. Every single day I must get up, grab my Bible and start seeking Him. He promises to fulfill!
2. I Married a Sinner… (And So Did He)
I know this seems obvious, but some of us just need to see it in black and white. It actually fits quite nicely with my first realization mentioned above. Yes, my husband is a sinner. He will mess up. He will disappoint me. He will act selfishly sometimes. But, here’s a little secret, so will I. The Bible says that we are all sinners.
“There is no one righteous, not even one. All have turned away; there is no one who does what is good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10, 12)
Since my husband is a sinner, I should expect him to sin sometimes. Strangely though, even as I know the reality of this statement I tend to forget it in real life. It’s like I am shocked if he speaks unkindly to me, or I just can’t believe he messed up. Elisabeth Elliot speaks to this clearly in her book, Let Me Be a Woman:
“First of all, who is it you marry? You marry a sinner. There’s nobody else to marry. That ought to be obvious enough, but when you love a man as you love yours it’s easy to forget. You forget it for a while and then something happens that ought to remind you, you find yourself wondering what’s the matter, how could this happen, where did things go wrong? They went wrong back in the Garden of Eden. Settle it once for all, your husband is a son of Adam. Acceptance of him- all of him- includes acceptance of him being a sinner.”
This leads me to my third little realization.
3. Sinners Need Grace & Forgiveness
This one can be a little hard for me at times. When Brent misses the mark and sins against me, I tend feel justified by either being cold toward him or speaking unkindly to him. This is not ok. After all, I am just as big a sinner as he is and have failed him in all sorts of ways. Who am I to hold his failures over his head?
Jesus certainly doesn’t treat me that way. Instead, sweet Jesus offers the exact opposite: grace, love and forgiveness, and then tells me to do the same.
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.” Colossians 3:12-13
Through God’s Spirit in me, I can build up my marriage by offering grace and forgiveness.
4. God is Using My Marriage to Make Me Like Christ
I would say that of all the lessons I’m learning in marriage, this one seems to be the one that is continually popping up. I went into marriage believing it was all about me and for my benefit, but over time, God has gently shown me that He is using my marriage to chip away all of the ugly so that Christ will be better seen in my life. This is a hard lesson! But, it is definitely a real part of being a Christian. Paul tells us in Romans 8:29 that as believers we are being
“conformed to the image of His Son.”
And 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that we
“are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.”
Becoming like Jesus involves changing my mindset and then acting in obedience. I often start out with mainly selfish motivations and actions, while Jesus is calling me to serve and be like Him. I have to actively choose to change my response in these situations. It is hard, but God promises to give me all I need to obey!
Thankfully, God is patient with me as I journey on toward fulfilling Psalm 34:3 with my hubby. Through Him, I can smile at our many tomorrows, and Brent and I can magnify the Lord, and exalt His name together!
What is God teaching you in your own marriage? Can you relate to any of these lessons I’m learning? Are there certain Scriptures that have been helpful to you as you journey through marriage?