Just a few weeks ago, we were at Mitchell’s Fish Market in Sandestin, Florida, celebrating our thirtieth anniversary. Now did I ever enjoy that! Celebrations are that way, aren’t they? You just enjoy them.
I do continue to think about what I have learned over these years of being married. As I suggested in the last post, I have learned that marriage is really about something larger than ourselves. After all, marriage is a gift. Marriage is a place of ministry where a husband and wife serve one another. Marriage is a place where God shapes us into a Christlike people. Marriage was always meant to be a relationship in which two human beings can experience joy and deep abiding love even as they surrender themselves to God and one another.
In the early years of our marriage, I might have given an affirming nod to this but I don’t know that I realized what this meant. After all, it is far too easy to evaluate a marriage based solely on what I/we seem to be receiving. Is this pleasurable? Am I happy? Am I satisfied?
Are these bad questions? No, not necessarily. However, there are other issues that Christ-followers need to be attentive to in marriage. Over the years, I think that God has taught me some things about marriage, some of which I missed in the early years. A few things I have learned:
1. The two great commandments — loving God and loving people — are to be lived out in my marriage. Part of being a Christ-follower means that I behave as a loving person at home as well as in public settings.
2. Life is sometimes hard. We are not always "fine." We do no one any favors when we are emotionally dishonest in our homes. (If you have children, they will pick up on this very quickly.) That doesn’t mean that I must air every negative emotion I feel. However, it does mean that I don’t say that we are doing "wonderful" when I know we are not.
3. There is great power to be experienced in marriage. Marriage is not up to me or even the two of us. God works in our marriage through prayer. The Holy Spirit enables and empowers me to live as a Christ-follower in my marriage. Marriage is not just a matter of willpower. It does take effort and intention. However, there is something at work here that goes beyond my own energy and strength.
4. Be aware of your baggage. We all come to our weddings with some kind of baggage. It is difficult, however, when we will not acknowledge this. Because we are human and sinful at that, we come to marriage as a work in progress. It is far too easy to see this in our spouse while we perceive ourselves to be much farther along.