Have you ever been without your wedding ring? It’s a strange feeling – like a part of you is missing. Earlier this week one of our dogs jumped up and scratched my hand and lower arm. My hand was sore so I took off my wedding ring for about 36 hours, until it started feeling better. The day I took my ring off gave me a lot of time to think about marriage.
Marriages today do not have a lot working in their favor. We live in a society that wants to make sure that each individual gets what they need in order to feel good, do well, and move through life without anything holding them back.
* * * * *
Yesterday I spoke with a gentleman who was telling me the story of his recent injury. He fell off a dock, into the water, and hurt his back pretty badly. Apparently he was having some trouble while in the water because his wife had to jump in to help him.
That’s a pretty selfless act, isn’t it? I think, though, that most of us would do the same thing for a spouse or loved one.
This man’s wife, though?
She did not know how to swim.
I expressed my surprise to the gentleman. But here’s the other important part of this story. He was an older gentleman – it’s not like they were a young, newly-married couple.
In fact, he has been married to this lady, who could not swim, yet jumped into the water to save him, for 51 years.
I asked him for the rest of the story. He said he was grateful for some substantial upper-body strength to be able to hold up his wife and himself. He also said that some friends had seen what happened and had worked quickly to help the couple get out of the water.
I asked about his wife and how she was doing. He indicated she had been scared, but that she was okay. And then he said that after 51 years she’s still willing to risk her life for him, so he plans to love her a little more and to be thankful for such a supportive spouse.
* * * * *
Marriages don’t have a lot going for them. We live in a culture that wants to provide an easy way out, no matter the situation.
We are friends with someone – until it’s an inconvenience.
We associate with people – as long as they help our reputation.
We stay married – until we get hurt, or until we don’t feel like being married.
For those hours when I was not wearing my ring, I considered all these things. I realized that if my marriage were to end, I wouldn’t be any different from many other people in our world today.
* * * * *
This summer will mark my 15th anniversary. I am hardly an “expert” on marriage – not at all. But it saddens me that I’ve already been married longer than many other people I know.
This entire post is not a judgment against those who have walked the road of divorce.
Not at all.
Rather, I am hoping to provide encouragement for those of us
trying to stay married.
Marriage is tough. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re wrong. Marriage isn’t impossible, but it’s not like they portray it in so many movies and TV shows.
Marriage takes a lot of communication, a lot of working together, a lot of selfless decisions – putting the needs of our spouse at the forefront of our mind.
So what do we do – those of us who really want to see our marriages work – in this world where so many people are only out for their own goals and ideals?
We work on the most important relationship.
And it’s not our marriage.
In this crazy, mixed-up world where life can change in a minute, Jesus is our only security. He is the rock, the security that we can have in our lives.
How do I know?
Because when things fall apart – as they inevitably will,
when others decide they are done with us and our hearts break – as they inevitably will,
and when marriage is hard, and we’re unsure if we want to continue, or even if we can continue,
He is our Hope.
* * * * *
Some amazing things happen when we pursue that relationship with Jesus.
-Life becomes a little easier as we rely on His strength.
-Hearts are mended as we allow His healing to work in our lives.
-Rough roads are made smooth.
-Relationships are healed.
This is not a guarantee that God will FIX a relationship in the way we want Him to.
Rather, it is a promise that God will heal the relationships –
that He will provide what is needed in each relationship,
whether it’s restoration, healing as we move on,
whatever the specific need may be.
* * * * *
The day I took my ring off, as I pondered all these things, I realized that I need to keep trusting Jesus in my own relationships.
Marriage is hard, parenting is not for the faint of heart, friendships do require time and effort.
As I look around and see a world constantly in change, with everyone on the lookout for themselves, I want to be a champion for marriages. I want you to know that marriage is worth fighting for. I want to tell you that marriage should push you closer to God as you seek to minister to your spouse.
But I also want to tell you that the road isn’t easy. We need each other on our marriage journeys, to encourage one another, to support the sanctity of marriage, to help us strive to be the spouse we should be, to keep our focus properly directed on Jesus.
I want to be one of the couples who makes it to 50+ years of marriage. I want others in my life who are going to encourage my marriage journey; who are going to believe in my husband and me, even when the road is hard. I want people in my life who realize we’re all human – we all make mistakes, we all come to a relationship or marriage with baggage – and some of it is ugly baggage. And I want people who will look past the filth and walk the road with us, whatever that may look like.
And I want to be that same level of support for others – for you.
I want to be one of those couples who defy the odds, who live happily ever after.
And who live happily…
all the storms of life and all the frustrations of our human imperfections.
And I want to encourage those who, like me, are struggling through marriage.
You see, I’m not sitting inside a perfect marriage, looking out, saying, “You, too, can have a marriage like this!”
Rather, I’m in the muck and mire of marriage – just like many others are, wondering what’s coming down the pike.
I’m committed to my marriage, but that doesn’t mean I’m always confident in it. Sometimes life takes us on roads where we never intended to set foot.
I’m committed to my marriage,
but I’m confident in God.
He is the only one who can work out any relationship. He’s the friend when we feel alone. He’s the love we search for in this life.
* * * * *
I can’t guarantee that my marriage is going to work out anymore than I can guarantee that your marriage/friendship/relationship will work out. I hope it does – I pray it does, but only God knows. It’s often easy to point out the flaws in the other person. Sometimes it’s really easy.
But what if we took our marriage to God, left it with Him, and whole-heartedly pursued our relationship with Him? If we are drawing closer to Him, then we are doing the best thing we can do to make our marriage work.
I wish I could know for sure that my marriage will survive to see many decades together; I wish I could guarantee that for you, as well. I can’t, though.
I can’t guarantee marriage, but I can guarantee Jesus.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3: 5,6
The day I took my ring off,
I realized that
I really don’t ever want to be without my wedding ring.
* * * * *
I’d like to add a few additional resources that might be helpful to us,
especially as we work in our marriages.
The first post is one that I can really relate to. It’s hard to love when you do not feel loved. Jen shares beautifully from her own experiences and reminds us that our eyes need to fixed solely on Jesus in her post, “How to Love When You Feel Unloved“. I love this post, particularly because it reminds me that I’m not alone in the feelings I sometimes have.
If you’re committing to love your spouse and stay in your marriage, then prayer is the best place to start. Kaylene has written a series of posts that I know will be a blessing to us. She offers “40 Prayers to Pray Over Your Husband“. I’ll be honest – sometimes it’s hard to know what to pray, especially if we’re struggling. But these 40 prayers will get us started and will open our hearts to communication with God about our beloved.
One of the things I sometimes struggle with is trusting God, especially as it relates to my marriage. My friend, Arabah Joy, has written a book called “Trust Without Borders: A 40-Day Devotional Journey to Deepen, Strengthen, and Stretch Your Faith in God. She challenges us to ask, “What would happen this year if you really believed God?” She has taken truths from the Bible, combined them with Scriptures where God promises fulfillment, making it a great list to affirm and confirm our trust in God. If you are trusting God for your marriage, or even just to hold your heart, this is an excellent resource.
And this – a free eBook for email subscribers. This was the fall series of 31 Days to a Better Marriage. 30 different writers joined together to share articles designed to help strengthen your marriage. You can learn more about the free eBook here.