What I Have Learned After 30 Years

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Thirty years ago today I said I do to a man I wasn’t sure I loved the way a wife should love her husband. I am not even sure I knew what love was at that time. What I did know is that he was my friend and in the two years I had known him he had already supported me through so much. He had loved me during moments that many men would have walked away.

Since that day I have learned a lot. I have learned about marriage, love and life as we have journeyed together. It hasn’t always been perfect and yet it has been good. We have learned that we can argue and yet work things out in love. We have learned that there will be times we may feel like we want to give up but we would fight for one another, for our love and our family.

We have also learned…

Marriage is a covenant. A covenant not to be broken except by death. We choose to be committed to one another no matter what life may throw at us. We also understand that it is not just the two of us involved in the covenant but God is the administer of our covenant. He watches over us.

Love is a choice. You only fall out of love because you choose to. It gets too hard, we stop trying, but love chooses to stay and work through the hard places. Love chooses to keep going even when you feel like giving up.

You have to laugh. At times we must laugh hard and long. It helps put the day in perspective. God gave me my husband because God knew I would need to laugh. Keith is the only one who can make me laugh at almost anything, even when I am really stressed out. Even when I am upset with him.

Neither of us are perfect. We each have areas of our heart and life that God needs to expose and work through in order to mold us into the image of Christ. Giving room to grow into the man and woman God has created us to be is important.

Marriage is about growing. It’s a process of growth and maturity. A process that requires grace, patience and a willingness to walk in forgiveness. It’s growing in our relationship with God, with each other and within ourselves. We need to encourage and spur on growth in one another.

Marriage is about friendship. Be willing to work at the friendship. Spend time together. Talk about everything, share your hopes, dreams, joys and sorrow. Be life long friends.

Marriage takes hard work. It’s true, marriage isn’t easy. You can just glide along hoping things will be fine. You can not just push everything under the rug praying it will work out. You need to keep dating your spouse even when schedules make it seem impossible.

There is so much we’ve learned after 30 years, this is only a small list. How can one possibly list everything?I don’t want to sound as if it’s been easy, it hasn’t been. Anyone who has been married for any length of time knows it takes work, prayer and God.

There is a book on my shelf that I have never read, it’s called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. I am sure it’s an excellent book. When I first got it I opened it and read 2012-12-24 20.49.01this sentence, “What if marriage is not to make you happy, but to make you holy?” I closed the book and put it on the shelf. It’s the best book I never read.

That sentence in many ways has totally changed my thoughts on marriage. What if God intended marriage to make us holy? What better way to live a life of “iron sharpens iron” than within the marriage relationship?

Maybe we come into marriage with the wrong expectations? We enter marriage thinking it is to make us happy, whole or so that we are loved. But what if it is more about learning to know God and to make us holy. It’s just a thought.

I pray that we still have many more years ahead of us. I love this man, I love being married to him for better and for worse, in sickness and in health and for poor or rich. I pray we have more years to love and to grow.

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Being a Godly Wife

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord ;seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:2-3

Through the last 29+ years of marriage I’ve participated in many Bible studies about being  a godly wife or having a godly marriage. I’ve also read many, many books on those same topics. Why? Because I was seeking for truth about “how to” be the best wife I could be.

godly wifeThrough the years I gleaned a lot of truth, but at times it was also very frustrating. There were books and studies that seemed to me to be a long, undo-able list of things I should do or how I should behave. I would often become overwhelmed and frustrated. Then came the lies. The lies that said, “you’ll never get it”, “just face it, your not going to be a godly wife like so and so.”  “After all there is just no way I will ever be the Proverbs Woman,” I often thought to myself.

What was a woman to do? What steps could I take to be a godly wife and have a godly marriage? Was there a formula I could follow? Maybe a book on “the 7 steps to a godly marriage” ?

At times, early in my marriage I would just sit and cry out to God in frustration. Where were the older women who could show me? Why couldn’t anyone see that I had NO CLUE what I was doing?!

God heard the frustration in my heart’s cry. Over time He answered. His answer was not what I expected, but it brought such freedom!

God set me free from trying to become the “perfect” wife and have the “perfect” marriage. Freedom came when I realized that I only need to follow Christ.

What my husband really needed is a wife who followed hard after God.

In order to be a godly wife, or even a godly mother I “only” needed to take care of my relationship with God. I needed to be the woman that God created me to be. A woman who hungers and thirst after God. A woman who obeys her God. A woman who knows that God must be her very first priority.

I needed to be in God’s word, studying, mediating, praying so that God could create in me a changed heart. He alone can change my wrong attitudes toward life and those in it. He alone can create in me a true obedience to His will for my life.

Through the years I’ve realized that it is not about me BECOMING a godly wife but it’s about me seeking the ONE who can create in me the desire to be a godly daughter of the King.

I’ve learned that to be a good wife and have a good marriage that I must be passionately pursuing Jesus and my relationship with Him. It is in the word of God and studying it for myself that I learn to be the woman God desires me to be.

You see what I have learned is that I can have any number of lists on how to be a good wife but I will never measure up to the list. I will never measure up to the expectations of others or myself. They only place I will find joy, and acceptance is in my relationship with Christ. He is more than enough.

Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law And keep it with all my heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies…Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, Andrevive me in Your ways. Establish Your word to Your servant, As that which produces reverence for You…Behold, I long for Your precepts;Revive me through Your righteousness. (Psalms 119:33-40)

Photo courtesy of um_skyman at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

This is Life. This is Marriage.

We took our wedding vows and made a promise to live together until death does us part.

No one told us how hard it would be those first couple of years. It was the little things that caused frustrations. Like laundry on the floor, who slept on what side of the bed, what kind of toothpaste  would we use. Whose house would we go for the holidays. Everything seemed to cause a struggle. It was a struggle for two individuals becoming one.

ID-10033333.jpgIt takes time for a young man to gain confidence and take the lead. It takes time to become a man.

It takes time for a woman to grow and realize the role God places her in. She will grow to come along side and be a helpmate to her husband.

It goes against our flesh, it goes against what the world tells us about marriage. The only hope is that God must be allowed to work in our hearts. In our marriage.

There are many years filled with love, laughter and tears. Learning to understand one another, to love one another. There were sorrows and disappointments shared. Deep struggles that caused growth in both of us.

There were children, moving, losses, death, and decisions to be made. All allowed by the grace of God to mold and shape us.

This was life, it was our life. It is still life.

Marriage is an amazing life shared with one who loves deeply, sacrificially and unconditionally. Dates planned, intimate talks, holding hands or just sitting in silence knowing we are not alone. Sharing our future, hopes, dreams, desires, and our fears.

Oh, and those moments when you look into one another’s eyes and know just how loved you are. You see your beauty in the way they look at you. You feel safe in their embrace and you know the depth of their commitment to you.

This is life, this is marriage. Both are filled with love, joy, pain and sorrow.

We made a promise on the day of our wedding, but we have grown to a place where we realize that marriage is more than a promise, it’s a covenant. A solemn binding agreement between parties, made by blood, and not breakable. God is the sovereign administrator of this covenant.

A covenant means that you become one flesh, its death to independent living. You will put your partners needs before your own. If someone hurts your spouse they hurt you for you have truly grown to be one.

A covenant means that you will stand and fight for as long as it takes to defeat the enemy. You’ve got one another’s back. It means that you will be there for one another no matter how hard the road is. You are in it for the long haul. There is no giving up when it gets hard and messy. There is no divorce – it’s not even in your vocabulary and certainly never mentioned.

When recently asked how we have managed to come to almost 30 years I simply said,“we made a covenant, and a covenant is more than a promise. A covenant can not be broken. We are committed to making it work. We choose to love one another even in those moments when it’s hard.”

Marriage does not come with an easy button, it takes work, sacrifice, steadfast commitment and prayer. It also takes those around you to build a community of faith and support. We allow others int our lives to help keep us accountable. We allow them to speak truth into our marriage.

It means allowing God to rule over your marriage and be obedient to do what you know is right. It means that you WILL be there for one another no matter what. You will always choose to stay and work it out instead of leave and give up.

Marriage is more than the worlds definition of a promise which is so easily broken– it’s a covenant.

 
Photo courtesy from  photostock,  at www.freedigitalphotos.net