Friday, October 26, 2012
Worth It All
I want to talk about marriage today....but wait! Don't stop reading if you are not married. I believe that most areas of life can be conducted under the same principles. What I mean is that the principles I apply to marriage are principles that can and should be applied to all other areas of life. It comes down to character...whether you are married or not.
In all honesty, I have an insanely great marriage. There are nights we just lay in bed and talk about how thankful we are for each other and for the marriage we have. Yea, yea, I know it's really sappy...but it's true. However, when we were first married we used to fight like crazy! People in the married dorms could hear us fighting from way down the hall. It took us some time to learn how the other person worked and how to fight properly. A big problem was that Jeff just was not used to the behaviors of a seriously Italian woman. ;) For those of you who are also unaccustomed to us Italians, we have 2 passions- food (specifically bread and pasta) and fighting. We don't see it as fighting though...we see it as all talking really loud at the same time about some hot topic. And when you are done fighting (usually hours later), you then all go into the kitchen and start reheating the meal you were eating earlier. What's not to love??
But seriously, we have endured quite a bit in our nearly 9 years of marriage. We have had 2 miscarriages, 6 children, buried 2 loved ones, been through 3 surgeries, 2 hospital stays, my illness, 7 moves, a challenging ministry, and now are 2 years deep into a wilderness period. It's enough to break you. Yet we find our marriage to be stronger now than ever before. And it comes down to our personal walks with God.
I have read many books on marriage, and most of them are good. However, I find that no matter how many tools you have, you cannot build unless you have a foundation. If I had followed a lot of common dating advice, then Jeff and I would not be married. We have completely different interests- I like to be active, watch movies, and talk. Jeff likes to sit down, watch sports, and not talk, lol. He was called to be a pastor; I told him I think church is boring. He moves at a snails' pace; I move on fast forward. He hates messes and pranks; I instinctively get into shenanigans. He is quiet; I am loud.
I tell single girls any chance I get not to have a “list” of what you want in a guy. I don’t think thats wrong, I just think that it really does not matter. With all of our differences, Jeff and I have learned the art of compromise. I learned about sports and Jeff learned to sit through movies. I learned how not to fight over everything, and Jeff learned how to fight with me when I needed it. These differences we have can easily be resolved over time.
What can not be easily resolved and what is really the only thing that matters is character. Jeff and I got engaged 6 months after we started dating, and got married 8 months after that. I married Jeff because I loved him, I felt God was leading us together, and because we had the blessings of our families and other leaders in our lives. But the only thing I really knew about him was that he loved Jesus more than anyone or anything in this world. He prayed and read his Bible every single day, and he had...and still has...an unmovable integrity. That is the only thing you should have on a list.
Every day you make choices. These choices become more magnified when life gets really, really hard. It is easy to pull away and even easier to compromise. The desert has a strange way of making our convictions seem less and less viable. We start to allow ourselves little indulgences which quickly and without warning turn into little erosions in our character. These erosions can eventually crack your foundation. That is why it is so important to maintain your integrity even in the hardest of times. It is tempting for Jeff and I to just “check out”...but we don’t. We fight to stay connected, we fight to maintain our standards, and we fight to keep our feet steady on the path. And the reward for that is an intimacy that you cannot fake- both an intimacy with each other and an intimacy with God.
The thing is, this diligence does not depend on what the other person is doing. Marriage is not 50/50...it’s 100/100. You need to be pulling 100%. And sometimes your spouse is really going through the ringer and only pulls 30%...that means you need to pull 170%. See that? Character does not count the tallies...it simply does what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Sometimes you fall and he carried you...and sometimes it’s the other way around. But all the time you need to be remembering that marriage- just like life- is about making every choice a God-honoring choice.
Jeff and I are walking hand in hand. There is not a day that goes by that I am not eternally grateful for the man God gave me for a husband. He is everything I wanted and way more. He has my utmost respect. We are each giving all we have to God, and thus each other. We have walked through valleys that had shadows of death upon them...but we keep walking. We keep praying. We keep loving. We keep believing. We keep pursuing. We are never giving up.
Make sure you can say that about your life. Maybe your marriage is great and maybe it’s not. Maybe you’re single. The specifics don’t matter because the principles are the same- and that is to make sure that you are walking the walk. You need to keep praying. You need to keep loving. You need to keep believing. You need to keep pursuing. Don’t you ever give up.
You do that...and just wait and see what He will do.