There's a lot about marriage that is inexplicable until you are actually in the covenant of marriage. So I'm going to try, with words, to describe to you a few things that are extremely important when thinking of marriage.
It's beautiful. But, the world has perverted it and it deserves a redefinition to it's original meaning.
1. Marriage is not the end goal.
I overhear conversations in coffee shops (sorry for eavesdropping...) or the grocery store and girls are staring at the wedding magazine drooling over their dream wedding day. It's not about the wedding, it's about the marriage. It's about the thousands-no-millions of hours that follow after those eight that deserve the investment.
Other conversations include dialogue like, "I just can't wait until marriage because ______"
- Finances will become easier
- I'll always feel loved
- My problems will be fixed
However, marriage was not given to us as a gift to fix our problems. We've put the stress on marriage to complete us, make us happy and be able to add to our value. This is why the divorce rate is just as, if not more, popular as the keeping the covenant of marriage. Because marriage was not created for our happiness. In fact, it was created to humble us. It's so that we learn the relationship between Christ and the Church. It will never be perfect like Christ's love. Marriage, our spouse, will fail us. That's the design. That's the gift. We are gifted with failure of one another so that we are continually pointed back to Jesus. If you had a perfect marriage, there'd be no room for Jesus to satisfy. So embrace the struggle, right?
2. Marriage is just a piece of the amount that God love us.
Like I mentioned earlier, marriage is s gift because it gives us a picture of the way that Christ loves us. Just a picture. It's microscopic to the way that he pursues us.
Confession time: last week was pretty nuts for me. I got overwhelmed quickly with the items stacking up in my agenda, dishes in the sink, Remi peed on our linen duvet cover (bitter about it still, I'll admit), we had no food in the fridge that looked appealing (angry) so I, in my sinful nature, came in the door and walked right back out. I didn't return home for about 2.5 hours and found myself finishing up some of the things that needed to be scratched off of my to-do list. On the way home I thought, gosh, I left Thomas, not telling him where I was going, he doesn't know when I'm going home and he knows that I'm upset. This immediately broke my heart, my speedometer sped up and all of a sudden I was anxious to get home, to be greeted by him, to snuggle Remi despite the fact he had an accident on one of my favorite things ever.
Then it clicked. Why am I not as anxious to come home to the Father? Why am I okay avoiding Him, His home and His Kingdom when I think mine takes precedence. He waits for us to return, with open arms, but we have to decide to make the u-turn and be the prodigal son we've read about. Thomas missed me when I left. How much more does Jesus miss me when I storm out because things don't look the way I think they ought to?
Success in marriage doesn't come until eternity. I'm not successful because he feels loved or because I feel loved in return. Success is when Thomas stands before the Throne of God and is told, "well done good and faithful servant" and I may know that I am part of the reason why. There's something bigger than my family.
"Return to me, do not forsake me" Jeremiah 2:19
When we get in a habit of being "happy" and satisfied with what we experience on Earth from our earthly relationships, we are neglecting the good gift which comes from Christ. Not our husband, ladies.
3. Intimacy is not natural.
"When I get married, then I'll feel loved." Ehhh, not quite. Intimacy and feeling loved and connected comes when the two of you fight through an obstacle together, when you do something for the Kingdom. Francis Chan made a good point when he compared intimacy to sport teams. Intimacy + community and the dog pile doesn't occur after they've been in the locker room holding hands and singing with one another. No. It happens after a touchdown, interception or first-down. It happens when a goal is completed, there's a celebration. Intimacy is the same. It's not something that is always a part of the relationship, when the two of you combine forces for the Kingdom, intimacy is rewarded.
"Intimacy is the by-product of living on mission with one another" -Francis Chan
Some of you may be thinking, "gosh. That's a lot different than I expected" or "mmm maybe marriage isn't for me." Let me repeat, I think that marriage is a gift. It's a beautiful display of the way that Jesus loves us and is sacrificial for us, it shows us that when we are vulnerable, there are blessings. It shows us that there is a greater mission than loving ourselves and loving others. It shows us that we are loved more than we can ever imagine or experience here on Earth. It displays "faithfulness" and the replication of the way that we are called to be married to the Lord.
It's beautiful friends. I pray that you get to experience the ultimate love of Christ. Anything other is incomparable.