Life has a way of breaking down your categories. You leave home and discover that Christians aren’t always decent people, nor atheists villains. You get a job and find out that some of the people out there with the foulest mouths and quickest tempers also have the very biggest hearts. You go through an election cycle. I’ll say no more about that. Whatever the case, our black-and-white definitions of things and people are constantly being broken down by life. It’s really a huge favor, if you think about it.
Same thing with marriage.
I’ve longed to be married for quite a while. I have many friends who can say the same. The world around me, too, seems convinced that this is the answer. You can tell by what they say, what they post, what they pursue. They just don’t talk about anything else. “Find a man who looks at you like…”
And so on.
(To be clear, I am not looking for a man. I threw that picture up because I know the single ladies are reading.)
Yet my views on marriage – what it’s like, how well I’ll perform, what it will do for me, whether that last part is even something I should be focused on – have evolved over the years.
For one thing, I’ve…
No, wait. Stick with me. I know you sense another “It’s not all about marriage” post coming and you don’t want to hear it. But I won’t be long. This is important.
I’ve been privileged to watch my friends get married, and you just can’t be friends with such people for long without learning a few unpleasant truths about matrimony. Even when your friends are the very best people. (Seriously, you are all missing out by not having friends like mine. But I digress.)
For another thing, I’ve had people tell me straight up: marriage isn’t what you think it will be.
Some of those figures have been older Christian women, “second mom” figures of a sort, who are willing to let slip a few disappointing moments here and there in order to break down my categories.
They don’t rag on their husbands, of course. They know that’s not right. We’re talking upright, well-known, successful women – Proverbs 31 across the board – who are quite content with the mate God chose for them and would not have chosen differently. And I doubt I’ve heard anything close to the worst moments of those marriages. (Indeed, some of the husbands involved have been quite willing to share worse.)
And yet they are disappointed. Or were at one point.
Because of child bereavement that walls a couple off from each other.
Or life-draining pornography addictions, discovered just weeks after the wedding, that cut an infant marriage off at the knees.
Or parties where one partner finds herself alone and misunderstood surrounded by friends, and nothing the husband says seems to help.
Or the incessant, suffocating busyness.
Every married couple, I have read, has asked at least once in their life, “Why did I even bother getting married?”, and that until you do, you don’t truly see the role of matrimony. The look of delight doesn’t stay on Elon’s face – or on the face of the one in love. Rockets and romance crash.
But it does stay on the face of Jesus.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
It’s been said that our human relationships are mere reflections of God’s multi-faceted love for us. Throughout Scripture, we see his parental love in the delight of new parents as they hold their newborn; we hear of “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24); we see God as the benevolent master who treats his servants, us, with far greater dignity and care than we deserve.
But when we are called his bridegroom, does that not suggest his delight in his redeemed? Does not a groom’s face light with enjoyment as his bride-to-be pads down the aisle?
But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8)
Despite our sin, despite our status as enemies of God, he came for us and rescued us. It’s something that no spouse or human relationship will ever be able to do.
Some of us singles really are committed to the idea that romance will fix things – and that only romance will. Or at least be a vast improvement over what we have. It will disappoint us. At some point, it really will. So says every one who has ever done it. We might be wise to listen.
But as the years pass, I do become more convinced of the fierce, determined, attentive, passionate love of God for me. It is not a cliche. It is not a consolation prize. It does not hinge on something so volatile and unreliable as Brandon’s performance, but on his unchanging nature. It is not because I deserve it, but better – because it’s simply who he is.
And I become convinced of the assurance that it will never leave, never lessen, never cease being patient or kind, never take a day off or suffer hormonal withdrawal, never be cowed or darkened by tragedy…but always remain, always believe, always support, and always love.
Get yourself a Savior who does that.