So, I’m trying to think what to put on social media for my upcoming anniversary. I’m not good with those posts. Everyone else writes such glowing tributes to their spouse and I love to read them, but I always feel like my words fall short.
Sometimes, I read those posts, compare myself, and wonder what is wrong with me? Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, and I’m eternally grateful that we are married, but sometimes I feel like maybe we’re the only ones who struggle at this thing called marriage!
Seriously, it’s almost our anniversary and as I looked at our wedding book, the one where you list all the anniversaries in the back, there were many great anniversaries, but there was one year that simply said, “On a Monday. Brian worked. No plans. Didn’t really enjoy the day. No money. Wait till next year!” Seriously. Thank God there was no such thing as social media back then!
I should have gotten a clue that this was not the easiest path to walk when, on my wedding day, dad stood with me in the back of the church and gave me a choice – we could turn left or we could turn right. If we turned left, he would walk me down the aisle. If we turned right, he would walk me outside.
Dad was serious. The pressure was off. He told me it didn’t matter what anyone else might think, or say, or do – the decision was completely mine and he would walk with me whichever way I chose, he just wanted me to be happy.
Did I pause for a moment and think about what either choice might truly hold? No. I knew if I turned left, I’d be making vows before God, and everyone else, to spend the rest of my life with my husband for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, and in sickness or health till death do us part. And I didn’t really have a clue what that all meant – except the till death do us part part.
Did I have any idea that we would have two wonderful sons who would marry two precious women and that today we would be expecting our fifth grandchild, while living in our eleventh home in our seventh state? Nope, but I would definitely sign on for those blessings!
What about the inevitable hard times that could happen in marriage: Debt. Illness. Anger. Frustration. Bitterness. Secrets. The times when one – or both – of us wished we weren’t married to the other? There was not even a whisper of those thoughts. If there were, I might have bolted.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” – Isaiah 30:21
So, I walked down the aisle, and I’m glad I did, I’ll never look back! Nevertheless, saying “I do” is only the beginning. When a husband and wife walk back up the aisle the lifelong path of making a marriage begins.
The plethora of marriage books in every bookstore is proof, I believe, that building and maintaining a happy marriage is a whole lot harder than social media makes it look. Despite the wonderful – always wonderful – posts on social media, marriage is not easy. Staying married is even harder. And staying happily married, well, let’s face it, it’s darn near impossible, and only a few people seem to achieve it.
Though Brian and I have had our share of pebbles, rocks, and the occasional boulder along our path, I think most people who know us would say we are happily married (most of the time!). We are doing our best to stay on the path to happily-ever-after. We may occasionally stub a toe, trip, or stumble and fall, but when we do, God is quick to pick us up and point us back in the right direction.
A couple of streetlights God has given us to keep our pathway lit are forgiveness and commitment. These are also two promises that God makes to us in our relationship with him.
Forgiveness. We all know how devastated and desperate we feel when we have unconfessed sin between ourselves and God, as the Psalmist says, it’s as if our bones are wasting away, we can feel the heavy hand of God upon us, it saps our strength as in the heat of summer (Psalm 32:3-4). But, oh, the blessing when sins are forgiven! Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them. (Psalm 32:1-2)
If we have the blessing of experiencing forgiveness from God for our individual sin, how can we not forgive transgressions in a marriage? Without forgiveness, bitterness takes root and grows into an invasive weed of negativity that chokes out everything positive.
It has been said marriages don’t end because people fall out of love, they end because people fall out of forgiveness. I think this is true. I think unforgiveness leads to the end of love. As long as there is love, we can choose forgiveness. And where there is forgiveness, love seems to grow.
I can attest to how wonderful it feels to have my sins forgiven both by God and by Brian. To know that my shortcomings, anger, bitterness, sharp tongue, critical words and spirit, laziness, short-sightedness, and selfishness will not be held against me causes me to love both Brian and the Lord more.
Experiencing forgiveness is a powerful engine for change. As a forgiven person, I find myself wanting to be more forgiving, loving, gentle, compassionate, kind, peaceful, and gracious.
Commitment: There is nothing that has more staying power than commitment; actually, that is the definition of commitment. God sticks. God promises us he will never leave us nor forsake us and that nothing – not death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
If God promises us this kind of faithfulness, this kind of stick-to-itiveness, then how can we promise anything less to our spouse? Actually, we did make this promise to God and to our spouse in our wedding vows when we said: till death do us part. We must keep our word, just as we expect God to keep his.
Knowing that Brian will never leave me – because he loves the Lord and desires to do what God would have him do – gives me a strong sense of safety.
When I feel safe, I know that as difficult as things might sometimes get, we will get through it. Brian, me, and God.
Not every anniversary will be laughter, sunshine, and chocolate, there may be silence, dark clouds, and heartache. However, when there is safety because of commitment, and an assurance of reconciliation and restoration because of forgiveness, there is always hope for a happy marriage.
None of this is possible, however, unless God is included in your marriage. When either of you drifts away from God, you drift away from each other. As both of you grow closer to God, you grow closer to each other. In which direction are you moving?
So, next week, you’ll see my anniversary post on social media and I trust you will extend grace if it fails to convey how blessed I am. I also trust that if you are working hard to stay on the happily-ever-after path, you will remember that you are not alone and that it is worth the effort!
If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider following by clicking on the “Follow” link in the right-hand column