Marriage has shown me my lack of grace, my need for grace, and the reality of God’s grace.
I have these random memories. Like puzzle pieces, God put things into place long before I was even aware He was working on me. One memory is of my arrogant self telling our supposed pre-marrital counselor (snort) that “I am a great catch. And I don’t need Chuck, but I choose him.” (Poor counselor. Poor Chuck.)
“Would you quit your job?” he said looking me dead in the eye without flinching. He had nailed my pride, independence, superiority. Shocked by the suggested sacrifice, I had to sit squarely and solemnly in the reality of being a liar. I wouldn’t really do ANYTHING. I only wanted to do enough to make Chuck act better for me. After a great deal of gnashing my teeth with God, I realized that He could and would do ANYTHING — if my heart was humble before Him.
So I did. It did. God did. I quit my job and launched my marriage in a different direction. God was up to something better for me, for us. My marriage radically changed when I saw my lack of grace for Chuck and I acknowledged my need for grace to let go of ideas and actions that were poisoning my marriage. It is one thing to say you’re committed; it is another thing to act committed —especially when those acts require sacrifice. Jesus knows all about the cost of sacrifice, and it’s why He offers us His loving grace to do it.
From years 10-15, there are lots of memories and journal entries of “when Lord, when” or “why Lord why” or “help, Lord help.”
Funny now to think of it all. I don’t how God carried us, but He did. Every day. 8030 days. Sometimes we walked with Him. Sometimes He carried us in His arms while we were sleeping, or weeping, or too sick to walk. Sometimes, He pulled us along, His firm hand clamped around ours, as we kicked and screamed down the road He had determined. But He was there from the start in all the chaos, dreams, and questions. From the start He was planting life and hope and renewal. And as we went along He whispered…
“Look at Me.”
“Expect Me to Change Things.”
“Believe for Good.”
I know folks married 30 – 50+ years are laughing at me. In that world of marital staying power, I am only a youngster. But if you are under the 20 year mark, you need to know that God’s grace really is yours. It’s not a pithy church statement. It is a divine fact, a gift, an investment. He pours in to us what we cannot manufacture on our own. He never gets tired, frustrated or quits. We might, but Jesus doesn’t.
His grace is always available, and it comes to those who know they need it. Chuck and I have grieved over our hard-headedness and hard-heartedness. Why did we wait so long to humble ourselves before God and before each other in so many sticky places?
Our goal now is to shorten the recovery time. After this many years, we are learning to bypass the manipulation by silence or anger or emotional explosions. We are more eager to get to the heart of the matter…. Really, the Heart of the matter. God’s heart. Chuck’s heart. My heart. “God what am I missing here? I am committed to this person more than I am committed to being right, so give me grace to see what you see.”
Even in those times when one of us was more eager for health than the other, Grace happens. I have found that many times the only reason ONE person is still holding on, is because God’s grace is at work. With so much marital collapse all around, we shy away from clinging to His grace and our vows. Yet I believe it is a sure promise for those who desire to cross the finish line.
Truly, His Grace is all sufficient. For every need, He is there.