I saw this quote on Facebook this morning and thought how aptly it can relate to marriage, mine and Michael’s included. I pondered how expectations of how “things” are supposed to be, yet in reality sometimes aren’t and possibly may never be, can bring hearts low and marriages down. And when expectations crash we feel the burn and sometimes run in opposite directions, reaching for our salve of choice with which to soothe our wounds.
But how much quicker might a marriage grow into all that God purposes it to be if each wounded spouse ran in the same direction to God, the ultimate help and counselor.
What if me and my husband, and you and your’s, leave all the starry-eyed expectations at the altar? Those dreamy dreams of love in a fairy tale? Delusions of grandeur where spouses never tire, get grouchy, worry, fall ill, shake with fear, or lose hope?
What if we stopped ourselves right where we are right this minute and just let go of the expectations of perfection and the unreasonable demands and pressure it puts upon our married mate?
For a very long time in my earlier life I believed that if I was perfect all the time, along with being thin, pretty, polite, and smart — in essence if I would forgo all that it is to be blood, sweat and tears human — then somebody, somewhere would love me. There were many missteps along that trail, with tears, and always trying one more time.
But my Father is not one who demands perfection from me.
Not then, not now, not ever, not as a woman or a wife. Yes, He is working in me to perfect all that is good and light and love in me in this rugged journey up the down mountain of life. And He does expect me to grow beyond the confines of my current circumstances and current self to be all that He has wonderfully made me to be.
Yet I — like you — am just a woman with all the beauty, mystery, frayed edges, loose ends, and ups and downs that it brings. My husband — and your’s, too — is just a man in all his beauty, mystery, frayed edges, loose ends, and ups and downs. But there can be days, or maybe weeks, when cycles old spin anew and couples grow dizzy, weary, sore from a ride that seems to be going nowhere. Expectations of what marriage, life, each other should be is drastically, despairingly different than what it is in this one blessed moment of living.
And if we stubbornly cling to our mighty expectations of marriage it will be nearly impossible to see our way through the thorns which are the merciful gifts of a loving Parent who uses difficulties, and the consequences there from, to ultimately bring out the very best in each of His children. That we might become the living breathing embodiment of all the best thoughts He has ever had about us.
Yet tears fall like rain until we put ourself aside — not in a doormat kind of way — but in a mature, gracious, life and marriage affirming way — and remember that God doesn’t promise a rose garden in marriage. He gives us a little bit of dirt upon which we scratch out a life or a union that will either rise above and honor Him — or honor self. Along the way we plant seeds that will harvest tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. May we be wise enough to choose to plant good seeds that flourish in all that is love and bring us to the other side where the sun shines and the meadow is green and sweet with the fragrance of wild flowers and the sound of song birds telling us that the winter is finally past, the rains are over and done.
The place where we will be more grown up, more stable, more truly loving than we have ever been.
So one day after the next, we pick up our crosses, we cooperate with Christ as best we can in the given moment of grace and keep in mind the joy set before Him — and us — that allowed Him to submit His will to the Father’s. Our self-seeking soul poverty grows rich with love that puts others first and the monsters under the bed looming large in the middle of our messes will be tamed.
Everything begins with a thought so we must pray on that helmut that keeps the lies away, drowning out the internal narrator so often negative. Taking captive dark thinking that captures us in fear. And as we focus on Him we will change self instead of trying to change our other, letting go while clinging to God.
It may sound terribly cliche, and perhaps a bit naive, to let go and let God, but that is the only way me or you, or my husband or your’s, or our kids, will ever find freedom. By abandoning our self-made way to travel The Way, the only way, with the only One who can save us from our sins, unite our broken hearts, give us strength to just be by becoming all He has ever intended for us to be.
We beat our heads against the wall in pursuit of the perfect program or formula for the marriage to end all marriages, trying to control, manipulate, forecast outcomes as if we little humans have that power! It is not a perfect marital union that will unite our broken bits and pieces into a beautiful mosaic full of color and meaning — although marriage done God’s hard and narrow way does indeed make us better together than we could ever be apart — it is our union with the perfect Christ and us pressing into Him when all around us is pressing hard.
And He will perfect all that concerns us.
And may I and my Michael — and you and your hubby — not forget to be truly thankful for our one imperfect mate that God uses in all the ups and downs, good and bad, to make us perfected in His son. Jesus our most profound perfect gift and our spouse, like us, our second most profound imperfect gift.
Marriage is a sweet blessing purposed not so much to keep us entertained, distracted, or numbed to the realities of our inner realm or make us happy all the time — although God does expect our unions to bring us deep joy — but intended to turn our darkness to light. And the husband and wife seeking Light will emanate light into a world dim and broken yet so very beautiful and full of hope.
And walking in the light of love we find healing…