Marriage is hard work.
Within it exists great power, great opportunity, to bring out the worst and also the best in us.
We are given the rare occasion to offer ourselves to another for a lifetime.
And by offer ourselves, I am talking about the gift we can give that is nothing short of everything we are.
Our past, present, and future.
Our hopes and our fears.
Our dreams, but also our nightmares.
We bring everything to the table and present it to the other. Nothing stays hidden.
We become completely vulnerable.
Our weaknesses, our vices, our hidden secrets. They have no hiding place in marriage.
Like a very clear mirror that is being held before us.
And we realize there is also a mirror we are holding up to the other.
These mirrors are powerful because they are held by the one to whom we have given our lives.
They reveal everything.
And we may not like what we see.
In our position of vulnerability, we may be terrified by the reflection.
At times, we may even try to distort the mirror we hold for the other because we feel weak.
But Truth reveals itself in these mirrors.
With time, we are faced with a complete reflection of everything we are.
This is where hope, Truth, and love can be strongest.
In our weakness and humility, love is that much more powerful.
When we have given our good and our bad, our beauty and our ugliness, we have then given our whole self fully to the other.
And when the other responds with love, our very beings are transformed.
This love is the catalyst for growth, transformation, and a deeper understanding of God.
This love is that which brings meaning to and victory over our strife and our battles.
But this love is not something we fall into haphazardly.
It is not simply a feeling we experience.
Love is a verb.
An active and persistent sacrifice.
And there is no such thing as ‘love at first sight.’
There can be attraction and connection at first site, but love, fortunately, is not reduced to this.
Love is much more. It demands much more. It will not settle for anything less than giving your everything for the good of another….and ultimately, for the glory of God.
To love is a choice. In fact, love is many choices. It requires a decision to give and to let go.
It is by far the hardest choice to make…and you must make it daily.
But nothing can be so rewarding.
Nothing can compare to this sacrificial and demanding love.
This year, Adam and I celebrate the fact that God has given us the strength and perseverance to make the choice to love one another for 12 years!
And we have failed one another on many occasions.
Some days, we have made the choice not to love with all that we have.
A dozen ways, each dozens of times, I have failed my husband:
1-I have chosen to not fight fair. When upset, I’ve used my words for low blows and unfair accusations.
2-I have forgotten to listen. I’ve let my anger or selfishness deafen my ears to his sincere words.
3-I have jumped to conclusions before hearing the whole story. Similarly, I have failed to give him the benefit of the doubt and thus questioned his integrity.
4-I have neglected to affirm him.
5-I’ve neglected to take care of myself, which leads to an irritable me.
6-I’ve taken out my pain from others on him, the nearest target.
7-I’ve made snide remarks instead of taking the time to come up with a thoughtful statement to express myself.
8-I’ve used sarcasm instead of gentle honesty.
9-I’ve been short with or yelled at my children when I really needed to converse with my husband.
10-I’ve let things build up and then acted resentful.
11-I’ve let my pain from other men in my past and present distort the mirror I show my husband.
12-I have forgotten to care for and nurture God’s creation, my husband, when I have instead prioritized me or the world above the gift that God has provided.
Indeed, I have failed.
Yet I, we, are more than our failures.
We are together and growing because our God is good.
Our God is love.
We have seen the best and the worst of each other, and have overcome many difficult challenges.
But this is only possible because of God’s grace and power in our marriage.
Our Lord has held us when we could not hold each other.
He has been our great marriage Counselor.
We continue to strive to be seen in all that we are and do.
There is no rock God leaves unturned and this, in the end, is and will be a blessing.
One thing we can say for certain is that our marriage is one of transparency and perseverance.
We do not hide our struggles and we do not ignore our weaknesses.
Our choice to love each other means loving the whole other.
And as we love, we are transformed more into that which God created us to be.
So, when asked how we’ve done it…in response to the comment ‘I don’t know how you guys have done it’, I answer,
But God has.
With the same power that raised Jesus from the dead,
God is transforming us in our marriage.
And this is a great love that is worth the fight, worth the struggle, worth making the choice.