Monday, August 29, 2011

Reflections on Five Years of Marriage

Five years and a few weeks ago I was a jumble of nerves. People fussing over me, spraying me (yet again) with hair spray (which I rarely even use), adjusting my headpiece, rushing me to get the party started already (I'm sure they meant well). On that day, there's no way in the world I would've been able to imagine what was ahead of me.

It seems five years has been such a long time but at the same time, has gone by in a flash. We've experienced pregnancies, babies, financial crises, job changes, job losses, a relocation, not to mention birthday parties, unexpected blessings of various kinds, date nights, moments of laughter and more. I think those sorts of things have a way of making time go a little faster than normal! (Maybe faster is normal).

The word that's come to me about the "theme" of our marriage lately has been "sifting". I hear this word in my head whenever something trying is happening. Sifting. (As in Luke 22:31 when Jesus says "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.")

I've come to understand that marriage is a refining process. Apparently God has His work cut out with me! Some things have been far more challenging than I could have guessed. People always say "marriage is a lot of work". That kind of statement is something you just can't understand until you're there. Kind of like when people say "motherhood is amazing" or "life-changing". If you haven't been there, you just kind of smile and nod and in the back of your mind, think "of course it is!" but you just don't understand the magnitude of that statement until it happens to you.

Of course it is. Marriage is a lot of WORK. (And it's not for the faint of heart). That's not to say it's drudgery or anything like that. But you must always bring your "A game". I don't know that there will ever come a time when I can just sit back and relax and let my marriage be on auto pilot. It just doesn't work that way. One must always be proactive and keep on stepping outside of themselves to cultivate a healthy marriage.

I think one of the most challenging things has been adjusting my expectations of what married life was "supposed" to look like. I had ideals and ideas of how things were going to go. Of course, no one expected that I would become pregnant within the first month of being married, and nobody expected that pregnancy would be difficult (both stressful physically to me personally, but also a strain on our marriage), and nobody expected that I would want to leave my job at the church to care for my son. Nobody but God, anyway. He knows everything. And He is never surprised or caught off guard at anything that we do.

There's always peace if we will just trust HIM. Trust that first of all, He didn't lead me astray when I made the decision to marry (same goes for my husband) or that we were "missing it" somehow. Trust that He knows the end from the beginning and that He'll show us exactly what we need to do (and that it may not always feel good or line up with how we think a situation should be handled). His ways are higher than our ways, and marriage is in fact a refining process. He wants us to get rid of selfishness, immaturity, impatience, pride and everything else under the sun that's not of Him. He is more concerned for our holiness than He is our happiness. (Though both are found in Him alone).

So sifting. This is about saying "yes" to God's higher ways, and leaving my own ways behind. About glorifying God with my attitude and approach to caring for and loving one of His dear children (my husband). It's about "bucking the trends" and setting an excellent example to future generations and showing others that marriage is not a lost art, or something that's simply not for today's culture.

My desire for the next five years (and beyond) is to have the discipline and courage to leave behind even more selfish behaviors and thought patterns. That I would glorify God with my actual response to my marriage situation and my husband (not just my thoughtfully composed response in the blogosphere).

Have you gone through a season of sifting? How has God used your marriage to "refine" you?