In my attempt to focus on things that are beautiful and pure and noble rather than my usual ranting against everything twisted and wrong in the world, this post is for all the thirty and forty-somethings out there who have been tested by fire and held your ground.
In the rapid pace of American life and the constant dismantling of the family - even among Christians- there are those of you who have stayed the course, who have cried silent tears and wondered at the meaning of it all. Wondered sometimes why you have stayed when marital strife and tensions have been overwhelming. And yet, you have survived some terrible storms. Are you the stronger for it? Have you rejoiced for your trials? (James 1:2-4) Are you merely surviving or are you growing into a spiritual giant and offering comfort to others as Christ has comforted you? (II Corinthians 1)
Every week it seems I hear of another couple getting a divorce. My daughter told me recently that she was in a minority in her class because her parents are still married. And even though its the nonchalant trend, the path well traveled, I’m not convinced for a second that the pain incurred by all family members undergoing divorce is lessened by its popular course. It’s no wonder to me why Americans use of antidepressants has skyrocketed over the past two decades.
Unhappy people = take a pill.
For those of you who have been in the trenches and faced the fire, this one is for you. I hear you. I embrace you and pray for you. I believe that YOU are the stuff that makes the Proverbs 31 woman or the man St. Paul speaks of that LOVES his wife in truth. You are a rare treasure and I want you to be encouraged. I want you to know that there is value in the trials you’ve faced or continue to face. I want you to know that I’m one of you and that our enemy continually chides us into contemplating “you deserve better, the grass is greener over there”. But you probably already know that. You know better.
You know there is victory in Jesus Christ, victory in unconditional love and victory in being able to share the comfort with others as you yourself have been comforted. You know that trials produce perseverance, character and hope (Romans 5). You have scars that led you to a place of closeness with God or at least, I hope you know that.
The older I get the more I realize there is no such thing as a “perfect” marriage, no matter the images of bliss shared on Facebook. How can a perfect marriage exist when we are imperfect people? Marriage is the sacred place that God perfects us. We cannot hope to walk on paths of righteousness without gaining a glimmer of the vile stuff within, the selfishness, vanity, pride, etc.. How can we hope to gain virtue without cleaning house first? And where better to see a true vision of your heart than through your spouse; the one who knows all things about you?
Don’t think for a second that I am writing from some lofty judgmental seat; I’m not. I recognize that there are just reasons for divorce. I understand about abandonment, unfaithfulness and the destructive nature of addictions. I value human beings and applaud the person who leaves their spouse where there is abuse involved.
I’m speaking, rather, to the men & women who have dealt with trials in marriage because of sinfulness who have been broken spiritually and blessedly renewed... who have come to a place of repentance and reconciliation....who stood their ground in the face of fiery darts and prayed through many tears and continue to love the one they're with.
To those who are striving toward unconditional love ~agape love~ the secret wisdom of a joyful marriage designed by God, it is to YOU my thoughts go today. Keep going, keep praying, keep sharing the comfort you have been given by God to comfort others. You are an abundant blessing and a rare gem.
To God be the glory for all things †