Sunday, October 16, 2011

Marriage is Hard Work

WARNING: What you read in this post might not sound like it was written by a member of a church. I am a Follower of Jesus that broke out of the "church-lady" mold a long time ago. Marriages fail when people don't feel loved. To a wife, she wants to be cherished. To a husband, he wants to be respected. But truly are not cherishing and respecting another two aspects of what it means to love another!

Hurting people hurt those closest to them, and the core of the pain is not knowing you are loved by God, another and yourself.

Life-long Love - Marriage is Worth it!

I remember about 15 years ago...

when I taught a women's Bible study class at what was then called First Baptist of Smyrna. I confessed to the women in the class that I was so mad at my husband I wished an 18 wheeler truck would run him over. Needless to say my time as a Bible teacher at that church was short-lived.

I had no qualms about speaking so forthright, but is it took me almost 20 years to finally figure out why churches keep finding creative ways to not use me in ministry. (This is a whole 'nother topic I will get to another day.)

I just got permission from my dear husband of now 27 write about hard lessons learned in our marriage.

So here is the gritty dirty truth about marriage that "good pretend-people" don't want to share:

Marriage (a commitment to another person and God to remain together for life) is very hard to accomplish, even if you are a Christian!

Marriage joins together by a solemn vow to God two people who are completely uniquely, created individuals. They have:
  • their own personalities (quirks, habits, annoyances, pet-peeves, and the good stuff too).
  • their strengths and weaknesses that come in all shapes and sizes.
  • a past... none of us are born at 21 to be freshly married; we each have lived some.
  • their own dreams, and ideas of what success looks and feel like.
  • different relatives and friends (usually).
On top of that, we are sinners! God is not going to be finished with either of you during your married life.

So, two people are put together to live in one house, and closer than that one room and no matter how hard it might be through thick and thin, one bed (that doesn't mean you can't spend a night or two on the sofa if needed).
  • You also share a kitchen, living room, bathroom, garage and cars.
  • And the biggest grace builder in life, you share your children, who at the same time can be the very glue that forces you to endure life together but all the while scrapes you like rough edges of sandpaper or a broken bottle (whichever may be the case, in your family). 
Does that really sound easy? No! 

But here is the clincher, and the beauty of it all: Making Marriage work is worth every bit of effort it takes! The path of least resistance and trials do not make a mutually fulfilling, deeply loving marriage. If you don't work in your marriage, someone is ignoring, stuffing or avoiding their pain.

Before I write one more word, don't you dare think I am saying you should hang in there for life with a violent, wicked, abusive person. If someone beats you, curses continually at you (verbally slashes you with painful derogatory words), forces you into sex, controls your every move, etc... get out of that prison as soon as you can. And I know what I am talking about because my childhood was traumatically abusive. Flee quickly and get to a physical place that you and your children are safe.

Be open to God doing redeeming work of healing your marriage, but don't ever stay in an abusive or seriously neglectful situation. Protect yourself, (and your children)!

Through many shared testimonies, I will tell you a firm fact: God can touch the heart of the wickedest people and change them from the inner core to their outer actions and words. We all need grace and opportunities to know God's love, acceptance and forgiveness. At the same time, understand that some people will never let God into their life. Some people will remain wicked, sick and hateful. You are never bound to life with a person like this.

In every marriage, on all varying levels of conflict, we all have many times that we need one-on-one relationship time with our Maker, Redeemer, Healer, Lover, Acceptor, and dearest Friend - Jesus!

Remember: We all need grace and opportunities to know God's love, acceptance and forgiveness. 

A marriage that lasts, that grows, that becomes cherished has been allowed to go through the hardest of years... the years when no yield was produced, when you lost more than you received, when you died more than you lived, when cried more than you laughed, NEVER try to bury yourself in pretending "wedded bliss" or a life-sentence of emptiness. Here is the greatest advice I can give: NEVER GIVE UP! Don't Quit! Cling to your commitment, be a vow keeper.

If you fight (work) through, even inch by inch progress, with each person trying as best as they can to:
  • allow God to improve them, 
  • become more who God intended them to be from the start, 
  • be conformed to Christ-likeness.

Keep in mind, some of us are slower surrendering to God our sin and painful sin committed against us. But still, God asks that we bear all with love toward each other. Living together as walking zombies doesn't count as making your marriage work! Marriage is worth the pain, the fight, and the perseverance!

In those golden years, ha ha ha, I am nearing 50, so I can say that! In those golden years, you will be so grateful to see that your friend and love you married long ago is there to talk and share a meal. In staying married, you will have so much in common, because through the years you will travel through so much territory together. You can reflect back, to laugh, learn and even cry... but the beauty is:

you will love more deeply than you ever dreamed possible when you first said, "I do!"

I just glanced out the window and saw my husband... he was filling a bucket of water wearing his crimson University of AL cap over his greying brown hair  and his unshaved face...and love rose up in my heart. You know, I love HIM! He is my best friend!

I made a whole lot of racket...clapping loudly, beating the table, finally throwing a pen at the window... He finally looks up, cups his hand over his eyes as he peers into the window. And what seems like forever he finally looks up in my direction. I smiled and signed I Love You with my hand. He signed "I Love You" back at me. And on his way he went back to checking items on his list, and on I return to flittering about here and there throughout the day. 

We are so uniquely different, but we are also so uniquely ONE. 

In older ages if you are still married, you can be Uniquely One!

As I said from the start.... marriage... if anyone tells you it is easy, they are lying, lying, lying!

Some of the years are hard, even horrible to get through, but hang on tight, because marriage is so worth it. Nothing in the world can compare to loving and accepting someone after you sincerely know each other. To know you are loved and accepted for who you turn out to be is an amazing gift when it is shared.

This is where real love meets real life... the deep contentment of the heart of knowing at least for God and one other... you matter and you are enough... just as you are!

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