Marriage, it ain’t easy.
After all, stick two selfish, self-preserving people in a small confined space together, add in some stress, burdens, debt, busyness, oh and sprinkle in some kids dealing with their own challenges and selfishness and you get a recipe for chaos! The modern American household is a reality show that would put “The Walking Dead” to shame. I mean some days, it’s so crazy it’s a miracle everyone comes out alive and nearly unscathed.
My wife and I have been married for nearly 11 years and been together for 14. At 33, that means my wife has been with me for almost half my life. She has seen me through my entire 20’s, started my 30’s with me, helped me go from being a guy to a husband to now a daddy. I can honestly say that it has been THE MOST challenging half of my life; but simultaneously THE MOST rewarding. Through our marriage, we have dealt with anger, debt, poverty, riches, weakness, sickness, health, fights, fears, depression, lust, temptations, jealousy, sweet memories, anniversary trips, ups and downs lows and highs. Through it all, I’ve had a partner, best friend and lover to be with me through it all.
And the first decade of our marriage I feel like I’ve made it more about me than her. This is a very hard realization to come to. It wasn’t easy or painless. I’m naturally an introspective guy already. But my wife is also opinionated and loves me enough to be honest with me about her feelings and my own deficiencies; in gracious ways. With her help, she has helped me see deep, dark areas of my own selfish heart that I never would have awakened to. Don’t misunderstand, it takes two to tango, as they say. A marriage involves two people adding to the good, bad and ugly. But, she has helped me see how self-consumed I can be, even with good intentions. I never would have seen that on my own. I honestly believe that.
I share all this to say that as challenging as our marriage has been, it has been equally as rewarding: laughter, smiles, memories, tears, fun, intimacy, dates, trips and more. She is my best friend. You just don’t replace or give up on your best friend. You stick it out through thick and thin. She has dealt with me for this long, and loved me in spite of me. Being with her this long has given us a true picture of God’s love for His Church, the Bride of His Son Jesus Christ. Marriage, in all its messiness and chaos and tension is a beautiful expression of Jesus and His bride the Church.
The beautiful mess of grace is the only way I know how to describe it.
Recently, marriage has been on my heart. The beauty and challenge of it. Marriages of people I know and friends nearby are ending and in shambles. It breaks my heart. And puts my own marriage front and center again. Today, over 50% of all marriages now end in divorce. More than half. Let that sink in for a minute.
People are giving up, walking out, being absent either physically or emotionally and giving in to the temptations of our culture be it financial, relational or sexual. Empty promises of a “better, more exciting life”. That marriage to the same person for life is lame, boring, too hard and not worth it. I don’t say this to stand in judgment over any couple or marriage. I can’t do that, I know too well the daily fight of marriage. The daily requirement to make promises and purpose to keep them to my wife, daily. It really is an hour-by-hour and moment-by-moment renewal of vows. It’s purposing daily to say, “I’m going to love this person no matter what they do or don’t do, how they make me feel, what they say to me or about me.” And that, is not easy.
I’ve seen marriages of my friends end tragically and bitterly, separate for a season and come back stronger than ever, and others fight through decades of challenge only to love each other more than they could have imagined. I’ve seen marriages get through the hardest of times, so hard that they and those watching believed they were beyond any help or hope. Grace proved everybody wrong, thankfully.
I am a hopeless romantic idealist, which does inform how I view the world and solutions to the problems in it. It often gets me in trouble for being too optimistic, too much of a utopianistic idealist. I can’t help it, it’s how I’m wired. I think God’s redemptive grace operates in much the same way, doesn’t it?
The world we live in is hard, imaginably hard. Full of problems, sins and evils. God’s grace has the power and beauty to restore anyone out of any problem. Doesn’t it? Jesus Christ came to die for our sins, all of them. Including the worst sins we have committed and could commit. Isn’t He able to both rescue us from the penalty of our sins but also the power and presence of our sins? Yes, He is. If not, then the grace we believe in and confess to live by is weak, incomplete and hopeless.
We are hopeless if grace can’t rescue us out of the worst sins and sinners.
I wanna prove this with a testimony story from one of my newest listeners: Howie Aitken. He shared a very brief summary of God’s amazing grace on his own marriage and fight to stay together. I hope you’re blessed by it and can find a renewed hope in your own marriage; knowing that it’s a mess but it’s also beautiful. It’s a fight but it’s so rewarding, it’s worth it!
Howie Aitken’s Story:
“Jesus Restores! I gave a testimony at church this past weekend on how Jesus can restore a marriage. Gods word compelled me to come clean (just before my baptism) a year ago yesterday to my wife of fifteen years. I had several affairs through the first ten years and through the blood of Christ have been made new! Without Jesus we would not be together today and I may not even be alive! If you two people who love the lord first in their lives he WILL save the marriage! Even in extreme circumstances such as adultery!”