The More of Marriage: a mini-series, part 1

IMG_1052Here a few Ah-has about the journey of becoming one.  In light of all the chaos and brokenness surrounding marriage today and in celebration of my anniversary on April 13th of 22 years of marriage to Chuck, I thought this holy experiment warranted a few words.

Marriage helps me become my true self.

Chuck and I were looking through our wedding pictures last night. I wanted to laugh out loud and cry out loud. We had this delusion of change on the horizon.  We talked about how our “love is here to stay” and marriage was forever. We promised we would never change our commitment and passion and drive. We talked a lot about “all we would become” in those early years. Somehow we thought we “knew what we were getting” in each other, but we were woefully unprepared for real life.  “Change” was coming at us like a freight train.

First came the total spiritual overhaul as we became believers the first year of our marriage.  That is enough change to wreck the average couple who is confident of their marital choice. Our entire world system— beliefs, hobbies, friends, work, even politics—was turned on its ear. But this was only the beginning. Then came the awareness of all the addictions, coping, hiding, lying and blaming we had brought into our marriage. Our ideas of relationship were turned to dust.  Change came crashing in as  our selfish  ideas of love could not survive the reality of day to day life with another human being. We  didn’t truly understand our counterfeit selves until we began living with someone who could see who we really were.  Really see. I mean like in Avatar, “I see you.”   God’s presence gave us a supernatural peek into who was really living inside the shells we called husband and wife.  Not only was there more dysfunction than we could imagine, or handle, there  was far more God potential than either of us dared to believe. Twenty two years later,  we stand amazed. How did God do that?  We have a whole new definition of love, worth, and honor.

Another shock was the roller coaster of physical changes.  Looking at my skinny self was hard on my heart. Over the years, I  have gone through a lot of physical changes— pregnancies, weight gain and loss, sickness, etc.  I am grateful that Jesus has given me such freedom and acceptance of myself now.  But looking at our own marriage journey, and those newlyweds around us,  I don’t think people ever talk about the physical changes in marriage.  We dreamed, planned, projected, hoped, and guessed. But all the while we were doing that, our bodies kept pacing forward…toward the grave.  Not to be morbid, but  it is important that young women or couples know,  best they can, that they are agreeing to get old together.  That is a big commitment indeed. Talk about change…

Is it just me? Did anyone else think this wonderful life of change and growth was going to happen and you were going to stay young and lovely at the same time?  Forgive my sarcasm. But.  Marriage leaves no stone unturned. From attitudes to habits, from preferences to insecurities, from needs to longings,  this journey of two becoming one is ever refining. We have learned to change our idea of acceptance, truly receiving each other: for better, for worse.

How did He heal so much? How did He reveal so much? Looking at our wedding photo, I thought to myself, “who are those people?” We are so, so different.  And yet I have never felt more at home in my own skin.  Going through the battles and the victories, the drama and the outcomes  has stripped off so much sin and weakness and has deposited so much grace and mercy.  We are indeed thankful for the God who has let us share in the “unveiling” of a man and a woman He knew was in there all along.




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