We celebrated 12years of marriage last month and It was also coincidently my turn to take on the Facebook #loveyourspouse challenge that seems to be doing the rounds. I enjoyed posting pictures of me and my husband for 7 days consecutively. A great way to think about the good stuff and celebrate what we have shared and to remember that this is worth it. BUT, I have a confession to make!
One thought that kept going through my mind during that week, a thought that is both a confession and a prayer at the same time is that I would not have reached 12years of marriage without the grace and power of God at work in me. Some of you may have come from a rich heritage of great family life and internal good stuff, but in my case, I have needed every bit of help from the Lord in my love life.
It’s not that I did not marry the man of my dreams, or that I totally suck, but the truth is that marriage quickly showed me that the man that my heart melted for at the altar on the day I said “I do”, also needed to become the man of my reality, the man I fully embrace, and not just the one I “fall in love” with, but also the one I “choose to love”.
The grace of God at work in me, is what has helped me make this transition of daily choosing to love the man of my reality, to learn to grow together and to fight to stay real and connected with each other. And this process is not always pretty, nor is it magical. There are moments when you feel your heart exploding with love and joy. Yep! Those are great. But, there are many times when the pain and disappointment of discovering our imperfections and selfishness are not so great and we fumble clumsily to truly be known and be heard, while the pressures of life compete for the time and energy that is required to stay close. Let’s not forget how all those messed up unresolved childhood expectations come knocking at the door too. Combine all this, and you can understand what I mean when I say that without the grace and power of God at work in us, I am not sure I would be celebrating 12years of marriage with a full heart. But here is courage to the hearts of those who may need this encouragement, as I consider the grace of God and 5 ways I have seen it at work in my marriage.
For me God’s grace in me for building our marriage has been about these 5 areas:
- The grace to remember and Cultivate my first love, Jesus. No one can love me like He does, and in turn when I feel loved, I can receive and give love. I don’t enjoy my own company when I am running on empty and I come alive when I stay close to Jesus.
- The grace to Stay Connected with my husband. Keeping my heart tender, vulnerable and strong at the same time has been small steps of surrendering and trust that keeps yielding fruits of intimacy.
- The grace to Conquer past hurts. Childhood pain can hide so well until love demands your heart to come alive. Forgiving and letting go, constantly frees me up to love without fear and without strings attached. It also creates an atmosphere of freedom around me, so that my husband does not have to pay the penalty for wounds he did not cause.
- The grace to Celebrate who my husband is rather than to stumble over who and what he is not. Yes! Its true, some of the things I loved about my husband during the time were courting when the mere sound of his voice was wildly intoxicating, some of those same things leave me slightly irritated and I shake my head with disbelief at how different we are. At some point I had to throw in the towel ( I am giggling to myself now) and give up trying to change him. Anyone who knows my love for makeovers and DiY will understand how hard this is.
- The grace to Choose a more glorious future daily. Our dear friends Nigel and Debbie are one of the encouraging examples of marriage life and were our pre-marital counsellors. I remember their encouragement to us as we started on our journey, to always choose to serve each other daily and to show selfless love by choosing the other above our own comforts. Love with sacrifice leaves a lasting fruit of Joy. Sacrificial love grows to become a beautiful tree that many will be blessed by.
I want to glorify God with every area of my life and with every corner of my heart so that when the #loveyourspouse Facebook posts are long forgotten, and God takes His own pictures of my marriage, His heart will swell like a proud Father and He will delight to see us, His children, take hold of His mercies that are new every morning to build a marriage that brings glory to His name.