Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Gift of Marriage


marriage, gifts, struggles, choosing to love




As I sat down yesterday and looked through online pictures of our friends’ Christmas celebrations, I was reminded once again of the great gift that marriage is. It struck me anew how often we take this gift for granted, and how unfortunate it is when marriages end. Sometimes our friends become a widow or widower because God has called their spouse home, but much more often, marriages end because of divorce. I wish this was not so, but I see it happening too often.

Why do people get divorced? I imagine the reasons are as varied as the people, but surely it must always hurt. 

I am thankful for my husband. You hardly ever see him here on the blog because he does not want to be in the spotlight. But without him, I would be lost - because God has joined us together. Kurt is a part of me, just as I am a part of him - the two have become one flesh. We have been married for 23 years. It has not been easy, but it has been worth the fight. We are both stubborn, opinionated people. We fight, and then we forgive. We disagree, and then we reconcile. We do not hide who we are, but we do try to love the other one each and every day. Life is hard, marriage is a daunting gift - it requires us to sacrifice our own desires, to lay down our dreams on the pile of possibilities, and realize that sometimes, God will call us to a different ending than we had planned 

That is tough - the realization that you cannot be a totally free, completely independent person if you choose to enter into marriage - because BOTH people matter. Both of you will enter marriage with dreams, and the longer you are married, the older, and hopefully more mature, you become. Sometimes those dreams change, sometimes the circumstances change. Sometimes even the people change - accidents, illness, new jobs. It is a challenge to remain married in a world filled with messages from our Enemy that tell us we can have our cake and eat it too - and that marriage only needs to last as long as it benefits us. Do not listen to his lies!

Here is a marriage secret: marriage benefits us more the longer we stay married! 

This challenging gift from God is used to refine us, to shape us, to make us less selfish. It is often used to teach us about how much God loves us, how He cares for us, how He corrects and reproves us. Need a lesson in humility? Have a child or two! God uses them to show us His loving heart, and how far we still have to go to be conformed to His image.

Dear one, if you are struggling in your marriage today, know this - it means there is still hope! If we ever get to the point where we are not willing to fight for our marriage, where we truly no longer care what will happen to our spouse, then the Enemy has won.

Occasionally a marriage ends because a spouse walks away - from their faith, from their family, from their responsibilities. Oh how this hurts my heart to see, but I have seen it happen. In rare instances real abuse happens. I would never want you to stay in a home where you were being physically abused - that is not in accord with God’s design for marriage. But these are the rarities, not the norm. Too often marriages end in divorce because one or both spouses choose to stop contributing to the marriage. They decide to be unhappy, and then they blame the other person. 

Here is another marriage secret for you: it is not up to your spouse to make you happy! 

You need to cultivate your relationship with your spouse to make and keep your marriage strong, but more importantly - you need to cultivate your relationship with your Heavenly Father to keep yourself filled with joy. Happiness is fleeting, joy is eternal. Life will come to try to steal your happiness, but it can only steal your joy if you willingly give it away.

After 23 years of marriage I can tell you there has been much happiness, and much sorrow. Underneath it all has been a current of sustaining joy - the kind that only Christ can provide. 14 years ago when my Dad died, my husband was there to comfort me. He did not know what to do, but he was there - and that was what I needed the most. 15 years ago when we began homeschooling - neither of us knew what we were doing - but we decided together that it was the best choice for our family. We have lived those wedding vows - richer, poorer, sickness, health. It has rarely been easy, but it has been such a priceless gift!

On Monday I turned 45 years old. I have been married more than half of my life. In that time I have learned many valuable lessons, but the one I want to remind you of before I go is this: contentment. To be content does not mean everything in your life is easy, it means that you are trusting in the Prince of Peace to carry you through whatever chaos comes your way. It means trusting that God’s plans for you are the very best option. It means you can love your life, and your spouse - and not need to offer anyone else a reason why. Contentment is recognizing the gifts you have been given, and holding on to them with open hands.





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5 comments:

  1. Your birthday is on Christmas?! Happy Birthday! What an encouraging post, thank you for sharing your experiences- from the heart.

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  2. Carol, your comments are so true... marriage is better the longer you stick with it. :)

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  3. Marriage is not always easy, but it is so worth it! Happy belated birthday and congratulations on 23 years of marriage! That is a blessing!

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  4. Great article! You are so right! We tend to take marriage for granted. Rejoicing and praising God today for my marriage :) Thanks :)

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  5. A good marriage is truly a blessing!

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