Eddie and I will be married three years next month. We’re still newbies, wet behind the ears. But more than one friend of mine has walked away from her marriage before her own third anniversary. What began as bliss ended in broken hearts and bitterness. Marriage was one big disappointment. It was all that the cynics and naysayers had said, and more.
Or was it?
A dear one’s recent divorce has me anguishing over these questions all over again:
What did we girls expect?
What did we think marriage would look like?
Do we have any idea what true love really is?
Eddie and I have had one wild ride since we said “I do” on August 28, 2010. We’ve navigated deaths of loved ones, unemployment, multiple moves, financial pressures, chronic pain and illness, new parenthood, our own shortcomings and failures, and the list goes on. Needless to say, in three years’ time, life has already begun testing the fiber of our commitment.
It hasn’t been easy, but it has been indescribably good. In fact, marriage is far more beautiful than I expected because it is largely not what I expected. This picture of Christ and His bride, this marriage between sinners, is not ultimately for my comfort and happiness. It is to show Jesus to the world around me (and to my son, whose ideas of marriage are being shaped even now at two years old). Eddie and I are part of something bigger than “us” and our marriage. By loving and serving one another, by keeping covenant, we’re living the gospel in a world that desperately needs Good News.
I’m beginning to understand that the most beautifully aged marriages are the ones that faced the roughest seas and fought by God’s grace and power to stay anchored together. They didn’t stay married because they were “compatible” with each other; they didn’t even stay married because they were always in love. They stayed married because they knew God had put them together for a great purpose and He would hold them together to the end.
And that’s what makes this so good. Marriage is a work of Almighty God for the glory of God.
I love being married. I am stunned by the tenacious love, fierce forgiveness, and power of God that our beautiful covenant requires. I’m humbled by the brokenness and baggage my husband and I have brought into our marriage, and I’m spellbound by the grace and love we experience as we walk with each other through those frailties. I’ve never in my life experienced God’s love and grace like I have with Eddie.
Like I can talk. We’re only three years into this adventure, remember?
But God’s Word is true, no matter how long I’ve been married. So in a culture of mass marital hysteria (i.e., rampant no-fault divorce and same-sex unions), even young marriages like mine have the opportunity to demonstrate the gospel and showcase Christ-like covenant love to a broken world that has absolutely no idea what love is.
For example, divorce says, “God is not big enough for us; He is not enough for this marriage.” And gay marriage says, “My desires are god and that’s all that matters.”But covenant love says, “God created this beautiful thing called marriage, so till death do us part, God is going to hold us together.”
The best things in life are worth fighting for. Singleness taught me that. Waiting on God for a godly marriage meant learning to deny my fiery emotional and sexual desires till I was 34 years old. At times it felt like too great a cost. But God’s name was at stake, and He was doing an eternally significant work in my heart and in the hearts of many others. I continue to see fruit today from the labor of those long years. Now my marriage is the great work at hand, and at times it is costly, but only because so much glory is at stake.
Our culture is hostile toward God’s idea of marriage, but the gospel thrives in adversity; it is resilient under attack. Your marriage, dear one, is the gospel in living color, so guard it, rejoice in it, fight for it. By God’s grace, by His immeasurable power at work in you, He will hold your marriage together and paint a picture of Love Himself.
“The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24