Thursday, February 6, 2014

the bigger picture of marriage



We hold hands over steaming coffee.

Every Monday we steal away to look at each other. To see and be seen. We share secrets and worries. And laughter too, we share everything in our own little private corner of the coffee shop.

This love, this man, this marriage. 

At the end of weary days he is always there. When I feel as though I cannot bear to go on, his fortitude pulls me along. 

In life’s adventure we can get so caught up in where we’re going that we don’t really look around and see who we’re with. Sometimes we miss the great gift of a spouse. The joy of someone who not only vowed to stay by your side through stretch marks and morning sickness, temper tantrums (yours, not the kids) and laughter, poverty and wealth; but actually meant it-those vows whispered in the church, or on the beach, or at a courthouse.

Other than a relationship with God, marriage is the only place where dying to yourself allows you to fully become who you are. In our life together I lay my plans aside, I put his needs first, I serve with joy, and sometimes I serve with resentment. It is this laying down of oneself that makes a marriage rich. 

He causes me to be braver. He inspires me to tenderness. I am better for him and better because of him.

This man, this marriage, this life. 

It wasn’t always this way. There have been days of barely holding on, of anger and distance. But the grace of God glued us together on that hot July day fifteen years ago, and that same grace kept us together on those rainy nights seven years later.

This is a gift, but it is one we can take for granted. We get comfortable and complacent, we stop being us and become you and me. And some days we see the socks left out and roll our eyes. We trip over the boots and grimace, swallowing down curses over the negligence of the owner who leaves them out. But then, we remember that if he weren’t around there would be no socks, and if he didn’t work so hard to support his family there would not be boots to trip over. 

So we must choose to take it all as a gift. It is also evidence of a bigger story. It points to the fact that we were made for so much more than a life alone. Whether we’re married or not, it points out the stark reality that God made us for more. He made us for partnership, first with him and then with each other. He made us for loving, first receiving his and then abandoning all to give to another. He made us for all this, and a life lived this way becomes a beacon to those who are alone, without God’s love in their lives. 

You see, this marriage, it is about more than us. It is about loving each other through every joy and every trial so that others will see Jesus through us. It is living our lives in such a way that others see him in the way we treat each other. Our partnership is not really a partnership after all, it is a joining of three. 

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