I think most would agree that marriage is no Hallmark movie. Marriage is hard; it requires effort on both parties. It’s not always romance and chivalry. Marriage is hurt feelings and forgiveness; commitment and compromise.
“While marriage is many things, it is anything but sentimental. Marriage is glorious but hard. It’s a burning joy and strength, and yet it is also blood, sweat, and tears; humbling defeats and exhausting victories.”Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
Nevertheless, marriage is one of the greatest experiences we have the privilege of experiencing in this life. This greatness doesn’t come wrapped in perfection, free of hurt, or even full of compassion; this greatness comes from the experience whether good or bad, healthy or damaging, pain-full or pain-free.
I grew up with divorced parents who had remarried while I was still very young. Though I had four parents who loved and cared for me deeply, I was determined to never divorce, should I ever marry. After all, marriage couldn’t be that hard, right?!
What looked so glamourous on TV one day became my reality; but what I hoped would resemble a romantic, Hallmark fairytale fell short of such when reality showed to be more along the lines of a dramatic, daytime soap opera.
I met my husband while we were stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia for military training. I couldn’t stand the ridiculously goofy and absolutely childish guy. He was absolutely not my “type.”
But amid his relentless pursuit something in my heart must have shifted because that ridiculously goofy man had soon become my best friend.
On July 14th of 2012, following his deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), we stood before our family and friends with God as our witness vowing “to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, ’til death do us part.”
Here we are more than eight years later — relentlessly and sacrificially pursuing one another in unconditional love. And to this day he pursues me all the same — childish jokes and quirky gestures.
Now, don’t mistake that for me saying those eight years have been perfect.
We’re selfish, prideful and sinful human beings, too.
We’ve both made poor decisions that would have broken many marriages.
We’ve lied, shamed and deceived each other.
Yet, we have never abandoned one another.
We owned up to our selfish mistakes time-and-time again.
We worked hard to restore broken trust.
And when doing it all on our own became too difficult, we chose to turn to the only One we knew had the power and mercy to heal our hurting marriage. We centered our marriage on Christ.
It was that decision, to center our lives and our marriage on Christ, that ultimately saved us from giving up and walking away from it all in the midst of marital hardship.
So, if given the chance to take it all back …
Because it was the hurt, the lies, the shame and the deception that led us to this moment.
It was the experience through every moment, some easy and others difficult, that we learned to so desperately depend on one another as husband and wife; but more importantly to depend on Christ.
We’ve learned what it means to be forgiven, to forgive those who wrong us, and ultimately to forgive ourselves.
We’ve learned we can’t do marriage alone; it takes three to succeed for a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12, CSB).
We’ve learned to embrace each others’ imperfections and find beauty in our brokenness.
We’ve learned how to show grace and love each other through our faults (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
We’ve learned to enjoy even the most simple of moments; for nothing in this world lasts forever (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13).
We’ve learned that our vulnerability does not make us weak but allows us to grow closer together not only in marraige but with Christ.
So, would I change the course that led us here?
Not for a moment.
Because along that course we found hope, we found joy, and we found life. It was on that course we discovered and experienced the grandeur of grace.