Next Wednesday, July 19, marks 14 years of marriage for me and my bride. Like every marriage since the beginning of time, we’ve had our ups and downs, joys and sorrows, losses and wins. We’ve learned hard lessons along the way about love, forgiveness, patience, sacrifice and humility. And although I know full well that I am NOT the pinnacle of all marital knowledge, I’d like to share a few of those lessons with you in hopes that even a few who read might glean from it and be encouraged. So here are seven things that I’ve (we’ve) learned in 14 years of being married, and how each of those lessons point me to Jesus. Why seven? It’s half of 14, I’m long winded, and that blog would be way too long.
- I’m such a sinner
It may surprise you that this is first on the list, but after 14 years it’s still something I’m fighting daily. Marriage has taught me from day one that my need for Jesus’s sanctifying Spirit is great. Being married is one gracious way I’m being pointed to my Savior who gave up His live for His bride, the Church.
- Pride kills
Pride can ruin just about any relationship. I can’t tell how many conversations went from good to bad and from bad to ugly, all because of my stinking pride. Men and women you know what I’m talking about. It’s hard to admit when we are wrong. I’m learning that it’s far better to be humble and wrong than to try to prove myself right and damage the one relationship on this earth that matters the most. How beautiful is my Jesus, who never did any wrong, yet chose humble himself and die for me.
- God is Sovereign
I was fairly young in Christ when Callie and I first married. My understanding of just how in control God really was over our lives was very limited. I still only see through a dim glass, but today I can say with far greater confidence that God is in control, and for that I’m thankful. No sickness, financial difficulty, cross-country move, ministry endeavor, child-rearing challenge, marital struggle or plan gone wrong has been without purpose. God is working it ALL for His glory and for our greater good in Him.
- Children are a Blessing
We wanted to have children early on because we knew it was God’s heart for us. We prayed from the beginning that God would give us hearts that see kids, not as obstacles in the way of a better life, but as blessings to be enjoyed and nurtured for Jesus. They are gifts from God that we must steward well in the short time we have them. Having a wife to disciple children with has taught me (us) like nothing else could that we have a good and faithful Father. In all my shortcomings I have a perfect example in God who always loves me unconditionally, always values me in Christ and will never leave me.
- Treasure the Eternal
One thing I (we) learned very quickly is that our stuff; the furniture, the car, the clothes and all our material possessions are not to be clung to. Holding tightly to earthly possessions or desiring better things for the sake of those things has never added to our joy together in God. When we choose to give of ourselves, to let go of earthly pursuits and embrace the people and the provision right in front of us, to care less about maintaining order and more about relationships, we see God’s will more clearly. We don’t do it perfectly, but we are learning to treasure Jesus together.
- Forgiveness Heals
This is a hard one mostly because it’s deeply connected to the pride issue. But over the years I’ve learned that to harbor unforgiveness is just like harboring bitterness. And when there’s a root of bitterness it always wants to grow into something bigger to destroy everything in its path. Jesus forgave when I was at my worst. He forgives completely and without reservation, so why should I ever withhold it from my spouse? Most of the time it’s some silly little thing that I have no business being upset about in the first place, and the true issue is my pride. Love, give and forgive like Jesus, no matter the situation, and you will begin to understand the transforming and healing power of forgiveness in marriage.
- She’s the Only One For Me
Yes, I knew this from day one. I knew the first time I laid eyes on her that I would spend my life with her. But God continues to convince me of this daily. A wife may ask her husband for reassurance (as has mine), “Do you love me?”. The foolish response to this is, “Don’t you already know that?” But I’ve learned, and am still learning, the joy of solidifying that truth in her heart. It is my pleasure to prove my love for her, and that that love is only for her, and nothing on earth will change that. God chose her for me, and I’m so glad He let me in on it. This is not just a lesson once learned, but one I’m going to enjoy learning and perfecting, by God’s grace, till the day I die.
Happy Anniversary, my love!