Welcome to Day #1 in the Love & Marriage mini-series!
We rejoice that YOU are here and we hope that you will join us for the next two weeks as we grow and learn more about love and marriage. Whatever your story is we hope that God will speak to your heart and encourage you to keep going, to not give up and to let His Holy Spirit fill you with the true love that only He can bring.
I John 4:10 “This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (NLT).
In the late 90’s I read numerous books about Christian relationships. They were great books and I still would recommend them today. However, one negative thing that happened, as a result of my interpretation of these resources, was that I expected my relationship to mirror what I had read… when it didn’t, I was frustrated.
Let me back up a bit. When I was in college I made a heartfelt list of qualities that I wanted to find in my future husband. The idea was, that if you made a list ahead of time, it would help you identify your spouse and not compromise your standards. Again, great idea and something I will encourage our daughter to do. However, I went a bit overboard with some of my specific requirements like…height and age requirements, musical abilities, etc. My standards were so high that some argued that only Jesus could meet all of them (only if He was at least three inches taller than me)!
Don’t get me wrong, high standards are a must, but your spouse won’t be perfect, and guess what, neither are you.
I remember complaining to my boyfriend that our relationship didn’t look like the ones that I had read about it my book(s). He lovingly and firmly said, “That’s because it’s our story. Our story is unique to us.” At the time his response annoyed me, but over time I’ve come to realize the wisdom in his words.
Upon entering marriage I had this “cookie cutter” view of what a “Christian” marriage should look like.
-wake up and do devotions together
-go to church every Sunday
-attend marriage conferences together
-read marriage improvement books together
-sit down and eat dinner together each night
-he will buy me flowers on a regular basis
-he will be in charge of the finances (and take the garbage out).
As Christians we need to base our marriages on what the Bible teaches- biblical truth should lead us; not Christian culture or what Jack and Tina do. Can we learn from each other? Absolutely, and we should. But there is a fine line between gleaning wisdom from other healthy marriages and the dangerous comparison game that leads to discontentment…“if only my husband did what her husband does”, “if only he looked like her husband”, “if only he helped me out around the house like that”, “if only he was a spiritual leader like that guy.”
One piece of advice that I want to whisper in the ear of young brides is this, “Enjoy the uniqueness of your love story. You marriage may not be everything you dreamed of or expected, but it is your story. There is no identical story out there like it. It is a story for you to actively participate in for a lifetime. You need Jesus as your foundation. Ask Him for grace to release your husband from unrealistic expectations. Serve the Lord in how you treat and love your husband. Choose to focus on his endearing qualities. Be in his corner, build him up, be at his side– and he will feel like he can take on the world!“
Our marriage story has many beautiful chapters and some dark chapters in it too. I often wish I could delete and rewrite the dark ones. But, it’s in these chapters that we have grown and been refined and, mostly, we have been forgiven. And God, in His mysterious and supernatural way, uses these chapters to help us empathize with others and offer hope.
Which leads me to my friend from college, Kristy. Several months ago Kristy shared her marriage testimony with her church community and she shared it with me also. She has readily agreed that I could share it with you here.
Click here for Kristy’s testimony.
(Fast forward to minute 21 to begin her testimony, which goes until minute 28…if you have time I encourage you to listen to the whole 32 minute sermon, but, if not, for sure listen to Kristy’s testimony that she is so bravely sharing with you today).
As you can see Kristy’s marriage story has not been easy, but, by the grace of God, she is staying and choosing to glorify God in her marriage as He carries her through; because she can trust Him and His Word. Many of you may have challenging circumstances in your marriages. I pray that Kristy’s testimony gives you hope and exhortation to follow what the Bible so clearly lays out about marriage and divorce. Each of our stories are unique but God can use them, flaws and all, to proclaim His redemptive story, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21).
*Check out the Celebrate Recovery site here and find one of their local groups near you if needed.
1. Take some time to read these verses on marriage. In Hebrews 13:4 it says, “Marriage should be honored by all…” How are you honoring your own marriage and the marriages of others? If you are single, how are you honoring the marriages of those around you?
2. Are you holding your husband to unrealistic expectations? Or have you made your spouse an idol? Talk to God about these things and ask Him what He would have you do.
3. What is one simple thing that you can do today to speak life and blessing into your marriage? A few ideas…a love and respect note, saying “yes” to him, snuggling on the couch, thanking him for working hard, buying a small gift “just because”.