I never thought I’d be married. In fact, on our first date, I told Scott I wasn’t into marriage and frankly wasn’t looking for it. At all. He looked at me, a bit wide-eyed, and said, “Okay.” You can interpret that any way you’d like.
Well, now you know. I was wrong. Marriage was and is for me. Marriage isn’t a piece of paper or an institutionalized arrangement. It’s profound, deep, and beautiful. Not easy at times, but extremely worthwhile. Well, after some slow progression, he won my heart. He was unlike any boy I had ever met. Thoughtful, witty, romantic, a conversationalist, godly, sporty, and HANDsome. And he was really good at loving unconditionally.
And it’s been TEN YEARS, today! Woot woot!
Marriage, to me, is a big big deal. It is God’s idea, and anytime God has an idea, I want to steward my part in it with excellence. Not perfection, excellence. (It’s different, you see.) I want to put both feet in, and commit with all I have within me.
As we were reminiscing on 10 years of marriage, I asked Scott, “What do you think it takes to have a great marriage?” I am not interested in a good marriage. I want a GREAT marriage. I don’t want two people living two lives, separate yet together, I want two people with one vision. (Where there’s no vision, the people perish. Proverbs 29:18) That’s powerful. Marriage is designed to go somewhere. It’s made for impact. Marriage isn’t a just a private commitment, it’s a public declaration, a masterpiece on display for all to see–love in action, the love of the Father extending toward our loved one, the unconditional type that is consistent regardless of circumstances.
In a biography I read about a pastor (and martyr) named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he wrote, in a Nazi prison camp, that “love doesn’t sustain marriage, marriage sustains love.” What’s crazy, is I just heard the pastor say these very words at our wedding when we watched a video of it last night! There’s a real and lasting and worthwhile commitment to the words, “I do.” That brings me to Scott’s response, which was actually the same as mine.
How does a couple have a great marriage?
God. And a united vision.
Cliche as it sounds, it’s true. A great marriage cannot thrive without both of these things. It takes a wife committed first (sold out!) to God and then her hubby, and a husband committed first to God and then his wife. It’s not about 50/50, it’s about 100/100. Each person giving the other their 100%, their best. Every decision, every word, every thought, everything, is filtered through what God would have for your marriage. Where does He want you to go? How does He want you to handle this scenario? How does He want you to speak to your spouse? What does He want you to see in her/him/the situation? How does He want you to handle the finances/kids/job…? Then, you commit yourself to honoring what your honey would love/appreciate/desire/prefer. Two people with their lives laid down for the other are UNSTOPPABLE. (Most problems in marriage, including in our own, are rooted in selfishness. The antidote, the inoculation, is love, in the way God’s defined it. One thing He did say, is love does not insist on its own way.) Selfless love that prefers the other is key to a great marriage. It’s like two puzzle pieces that fit well together. It may take a little adjusting on one end, and realigning another side to fit well, but it does fit. Do we do this perfectly? Nope. But you’d better believe we are working our tails off to honor, love, and serve the other. The greatest gift you can give your spouse is unconditional and selfless love. Give him/her your 100%. The best you have within you. Not the leftovers. The best. (As I type this, I’m thinking, this is good advice for myself, too!)
This type of marriage is a billboard for others to taste and see the love of God. Our first years (yes, there’s an s on the end of that word!) of marriage tough. We fought, we struggled, trying to figure out our places together, learning how to love without keeping a record of wrongs. We don’t naturally love in this way. We react. So it took some time to smooth out the edges. We jokingly referred to the other as our own personal sandpaper for a while. But now, we are way more buffed than we were 10 years ago! God rescued our marriage (that’s another post), and it’s gotten better every year since! We have learned that love is patient, love is kind, it’s not irritable (that one was a big one for me), and then, the grand slam…love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Once we allowed God to love us in this way, it changed everything. Because what we’ve freely received from Him, we can freely give. And I learned, that what I didn’t have, I couldn’t give. So, God showed me what it was like to enter into a relationship with trust and a full-fledged, two feet in, no strings attached kind of love. And I noticed, that the closer Scott grew to the Lord, the better our relationship was. He said the same about me.
And listen, it only takes one person to start this dance!! So don’t be discouraged if you’re the only one in the marriage that is interested in this. God saved our marriage, and He can yours, too. Love never ever fails, and this type of love finds people beautiful. This type of love calls people UP and out.
Last thing, cuz this is getting LONG. Great marriages have great visions. I think, if we could unify our visions with our spouses, the impact would be cataclysmic. Check out this card I bought. I think it says it ALL.
Love does not consist of gazing at each other. Love gazes at our Maker first, it catches the vision, then joins the gaze of our spouse to look ahead, to where you’re designed to go. (I think about how many times I’ve look behind, and lost our vision, and have even been stuck there. Look ahead…where are you headed? Where are you going? What trail are you to blaze together?) Marriage has an amazing purpose, and God wants to show you that very purpose. He chose the spouse for you before the foundation of the world. Why did He put you with him/her? What are you created to do together? What’s your vision together? These are the very things I greatly desire to see ignited and fulfilled in married couples! Lay it down for the other. Lay it DOWN! It isn’t about the wife fulfilling the husband’s dreams, or vice versa. It’s about loving selflessly, serving the other. Who is God in you, and that is who you are to your spouse. And then go somewhere with it. Go there, hand in hand, together. I’ll be praying for that for your marriage.
I am going to post another little bit on marriage here, next week. My prayer and hope is for family units to be strengthened and united. Men to rise up and be the hubbies they’re created to be, and women, likewise. Step into all God has for your marriage. It’s glor.i.ous!
I am sharing some pics of our big day 10 years ago. Seems like yesterday…
Scott’s parents designed that entire waterfall–isn’t it gorgeous?? And there just happened to be the exact number of stepping stones for the entire bridal party. I love our faces in this one. To this day, we are big laughers, quick to find humor. July 29, 2005.