15 years ago today, we got married. It really was my favorite day of my life. I had waited many years to marry my guy and the growing anticipation of that day did not disappoint. It was beautiful down to the detail as I remember it, in my memory and from a photo album now. It was beautifully imperfect which is probably a fair description of us as a couple, anyway. The ring bearer refused to walk the aisle, a vocalist had laryngytis, the bridesmaids shoes were painfully uncomfortable, it was hot, some details didn’t pan out as planned, but we couldn’t have cared less. The end result was the same. That being we had found each other’s perfectly imperfect match and now we were in covenant to be together until death alone would separate. 15 years later my eyes are tearing up writing those words….together until death alone would separate... I thought I completely understood that and yet, did not understand it at all on that wedding day of ours.
If you are married, do you remember your own feelings of that day in your life? And if you aren’t married and want to be, does it conjure emotion of the feelings you long to have on that much anticipated day? I’ve been thinking of it so often….because everything changes that day standing before the Lord. Everything became about us, and no longer me. 15 years in and nothing has really changed…we are still together today until death alone separates. And tomorrow we will be too. Only Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, but marriage is to be a reflection of His great love and devotion to us. On this broken earth, it is designed to be the closest thing to true security we have. On the best and worst day, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, etc., etc., we are IN THIS THING.
NOW. Lets get down to it. This 15 years has carried with it a lot of stuff. Life jam-packed. And we have had some days. You know what I’m saying…Some DAYS. As in the ones so intensely joyful that we couldn’t verbalize! The ones when we lived up our honeymoon, played house in our first apartment, bought our first house, saw our babies (OUR babies!!) for the first time, stayed up all night in the hospital just looking at that baby that came from US, when we FINALLY finished medical training, watching our babies learn to walk and talk, seeing God provide in hopeless situations, watching as our children experienced the saving power of Jesus and started to follow the God of their parents. People, you can’t explain that type of JOY. It’s sweetness that can’t be felt by anyone besides the 2 of you. THOSE days have rocked our world and solidified our covenant to each other time and time again. He is faithful to us so we are faithful to each other. We love each other because He first loved us.(1 John 4:19) He is good to bring us to those places together.
But, as wonderful as those days are, lets be fair and real. Switch gears with me and lets talk about the other REAL DAYS. You know the ones…the ones your mama told you about. The intense middle-of-the-night fights over money or family that you never thought you’d have. The 90 hour work weeks with exhaustion and frustration which leads to words that you promised you wouldn’t say to each other. The sleepless nights of babies crying, toddlers vomiting, preschoolers with raging fever and earaches. The times you didn’t mean to get pregnant again and well, you were pregnant… again. Those days when the thief of death comes in the night and takes one of your beloved parents. Those days when pain is intense, words are hurtful, money is scarce, time together is unavailable, and the struggle and distance between 2 humans is deep and real. It’s almost a tangible ache and you might even utter those words you never, ever thought you’d say about that man of your dreams standing before you at the altar, “Lord, please help me love him.” I’m going to repeat my previous words with more gusto here, THOSE are the days that have rocked our world and solidified our covenant to each other time and time again. He is faithful to us so we are faithful to each other. We love each other sometimes ONLY because He first loved us. He alone is good to bring us through those places…together…battered yet stronger for them.
Some of those days I regret, but honestly, probably wouldn’t change them if I could. Some of those days I would love to go back and repeat but that would mean leaving where we are now and I do not want to leave this place except to move forward. It is the place where all we have been through together meets and we continue to love each other, with all that is in us, as much as humans can know about love this side of heaven…we strive for it day after day. I wouldn’t trade a day of this journey so far.
So at this point in our game, here’s my nutshell I’ve learned about marriage. Really and truly, I wish I had lots of wisdom but really, I’ve only learned a nutshell. And here it is….
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” ~Romans 8:28
That’s it. That’s all I got.
God works all things for the good of those who love Him. All things. Not just the good things, He promises to work ALL things together for good. Good things, bad things, sad things, joyful things, devastating things, hurtful things, kind things, mean things, and even sinful things. On our best days together, He exponentially blesses and gives us good from His good grace. On our very worst days together, He takes our repentive and often regretful spirits and redeems even those ugly moments for GOOD when we surrender our limitations to Him. Our worst days are not deal breakers anymore than our best days guarantee a good tomorrow or good standing with Him. Marriage is the gospel of Jesus lived out. We start each day with new mercies when our hearts are bowed before Him and our hands are raised to Him in humility. Does that give you loads of hope?!?! Because I’ll be honest, it floods my heart with peace on this anniversary of ours. We love Him. We are His. And when we live in His kindness that leads us to repentance, we can entrust every joy and every regret to His good purpose, being fully certain that He will make ultimately make GOOD out of it. Not just tolerable, but GOOD!! It may take time, but He promises good. It may include pain and refinement, but He promises good. And friends, I believe Him because I’ve seen it in us. We love each other because HE has loved us first.
So, heres to another 15 and hopefully 50 years of loving and growing with the “one my soul loves.”(Song of Solomon 3:4) That “one”, is most assuredly my Philip, but ultimately, is my Jesus who is the only one who holds us securely in His capable hand. We love each other more today than we could’ve imagined 15 years ago, that is true. But what’s most importantly true, is that we love and trust our God in a way that we never knew we could….He has proved to us together that HE IS GOOD.