Before I got married, I had the perfect picture of love and marriage.
I had a very idealistic view of married life. In love and marriage, I saw hearts and everything in shades of pink. I assumed my life would be better, stronger and more fulfilled after getting married. I looked forward to marriage.
I never knew I would be married to a mirror and how God would use that to form my adult life.
After having my third baby, I had a late night moment with Jesus.
Abby was a newborn and I was nursing in the middle of the night and it wasn’t one of those “me and my precious baby” moments. It was more like a “wishing I was locked in a room by myself with a pillow and a blanket to sleep for hours on end” kind of moments. I was tired, tired and tired. Elayna was in preschool, Annalise was in terrible two’s and I nursing every 2 hours plus taking care of a very large farm house, building a marriage and keeping up at church. Life was crazy.
I remember thinking that night about how wonderful it would be to be single, unattached, free to work, go to church, get ready in the morning without the craziness of getting 3 kids ready too. Asking myself, why did I want to do this? Couldn’t I serve God better and be more focused if I was single?
My life wasn’t the picture of love and marriage that I’d fostered when I was growing up.
This was incredibly harder than I ever imagined.
For centuries, Christians have wondered if it is better to be single or married.
In chapter 6 of “Sacred Marriage”, Gary Thomas writes, “It will probably not be a productive conversation to argue either celibacy or marriage as the preferred pathway to holiness. Christians have walked both paths successfully. The important thing is to view the challenges of our particular life situation as a platform for growth.”
Basically, choose to grow where you are in life. Including love and marriage.
Gary asks on the cover of his book. “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”
How does marriage make us holy?
Gary says, “What marriage has done for me is hold a mirror to my sin. It forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and anti-Christian attitudes, encouraging me to be sanctified and cleansed and to grow in godliness.”
There are days where that is so true.
Jeremy is a mirror, reflecting the things in me that need to change.
This mirror reflects in me what is unholy.
Gary goes on to say, “Being so close to someone – which marriage necessitates – may be the greatest spiritual challenge in the world.”
There is no “resting” in marriage. Why? Because both spouses are under virtual 24 hour surveillance…
And there must be a willingness to look in the mirror and ask, “Where do you see unholiness in my life? I want to know about it. I want to change it.” This takes tremendous courage.
So, when I’m struggling in love and marriage, loosing sight of the “pink hearts” I assumed came with married life, am I really dealing with something more personal? Something, an attitude or character flaw, that needs to be dealt with?
Could it be that what I’m frustrated with or mad at or hurt by isn’t my spouse or the housework or the kids, but really something God is trying to work in me?
Our marriage can be a way to become more like Christ when we see it as a spiritual discipline, a way to grow in the situation we are in.
And, remember, this mirror works both ways. You are also a mirror to your spouse. You may see things that you do not like. Gary says, “In order for this discipline to work, we will have to link it with the discipline of forgiveness. This discipline of having our own sin exposed and being a spotlight for our spouse is a difficult one to master. It takes courage… and it takes gentleness.”
Knowing someone’s greatest faults, the things other people don’t see, is a powerful and dangerous thing.
How you handle it is very important. Pray that God will help you and your spouse to grow in holiness together.
Pray that God will give you the courage to look at your life in the mirror of your spouse, to change what you see and be gracious as your spouse does the same.