I haven't heard this topic covered very openly. Maybe I have been hiding under a rock and that's why. But either way, God has taught my heart a few things in the past few years of my marriage that I want to bravely in rawness, put out there for you today. With my sweet husband's permission of course.
Lately, I have loved the new song by Ed Sheeran, "Perfect." Who doesn't, right? It's a beautiful love song. I even made Lucas slow dance with me to it one night. He sweetly obliged.
You see, Lucas has been in love with me since probably he first saw me in our young, 16 year old days when he proclaimed, "She's hot!" to our then youth minister, Dawn. Dawn was sure we would get married some day, and who knew, Dawn was surely right! It took me a while to realize that he was the one God had for me, but I finally came around and we were married at the young age of me, 22 and him 23. We both had previously been missionaries (which is how God led us to meet back up with each other) prior with a program called, Pais Project (please look them up, they are an amazing organization), so we didn't have much money, but I suppose we didn't need it because we were happy. He became a youth minister and we started our lives together in Houston. Within two years I was ready to have children, and we had Aiden shortly after. For a long time we were a trio. We both went to school, got our associates, moved a bit from Houston to Longview to settling in Denton where we could both finish school. We still live in Denton, but we now have 3 boys total. Aiden is our oldest, now 11. It feels like yesterday he was 2 and sounding like a grown up when he spoke. He is growing into souch an amazing young teen who is considerate of others and loves video games (Shocker, right?! Ha!) and spending time with his friends. Liam is now a fun-loving, energetic, passionate, 4 year old. (Passionate is the kind way to say that he is both extremely loving when he's in a good mood, and extremely mad when he's mad lol). Finnegan, or Finny boy, as his church girlfriend calls him, is 3, matter of fact, silly, cute, and little but fierce. I am blessed to be their mom.
That is the wonderful part, that is the part I usually share with the world. Here is the raw part. Here is the part where I bravely don't hold anything back.
There have been short periods of time when my feelings haven't always been convinced that I loved Lucas, it was of course, totally untrue, but I was mixed up emotionally. When the book and movie, Love Dare, came out, I was nit picking him in my mind so much. I was dwelling on his weaknesses, or creating them, and was beginning to swirl in my own frustration.
God pulled me out of this through my own prayers. During church worship one day, I began praying and crying, and demanding, "I want my husband back. Enemy, you can't have our marriage." As a child of divorce, I know I am susceptible to it. Our marriage counselor gave us the amazing advice to never threaten or even say the word divorce in our marriage. And we both have stood by this sound advice. Thankfully, through prayer, the Love Dare book and my repentance, my heart was drawn back to the one my soul loves, and I began to appreciate who he is as a person. But the enemy wasn't finished with his quest to destroy my marriage.
When in college, I met a young guy who was going through a hard time in his own marriage. His wife had cheated on him and left him. He was a Christian, in ministry, and they had a little girl. This is probably the only conversation I had with him, apart from hellos and discussing assignments between me, a few other students, and him. When I heard his story I felt so sad for him that I began to pray for him daily. My feelings got jumbled, and my compassion began to twist to thinking I "liked" him. These feelings swirled for about 2 weeks. Even though we weren't Facebook friends, I looked up his account to see if he was okay. For these 2 weeks, I felt extremely guilty. I couldn't believe that I had developed a crush on someone who wasn't my own husband. I didn't know what was going on. The enemy was playing on my unguarded emotional state, and he had cunningly confused my compassion to some fickle feelings that were just a big, fat lie. Thankfully, in God's mercy, He moved my heart to repentance. I repented, and I refocused my heart again on both God, and Lucas. I said my last few prayers for that person, including praying for his future wife.
I learned so much from this "almost affair." Almost affair, am I just being dramatic? No. I don't believe so. While I only merely looked at his facebook account. I could have easily started messaging him, friending him, etc. I am SO, SO, SO glad I didn't. But this woke me up to how easily affairs can occur. How easily the enemy can destroy a marriage. It simply begins with a seed of thought. If we bury that seed and pour some water on it, it can quickly grow.
The truth is, the enemy is out to destroy marriages. He is a liar and the father of lies, according to the Bible, so he will whisper those lies and hope we will begin to hear them. If you have a strong marriage, you can accomplish just about anything for God. If you are a team for God, there is nothing you cannot do for Him. The enemy hates this. So it makes complete sense that he would attack here. I also learned that praying for someone's future spouse is very beneficial. It kind of gives your heart a slap to get back to where it should have been in the first place.
I have realized in the past year, that with busy lives and our 3 boys running circles around us, we became an easy target. During times like these, it is important to focus on us. We could easily fall into the excuse that we are too busy or to broke to go on dates, but we must make us a priority. We must flirt, date, and try as much as we can to win each others hearts over and over again, this is yet another way to battle the enemy. We are approaching 15 years of marriage this August, I am happy to report that I am more in love with the man I married that the day I married him. He is continually growing into the man, husband and father God has called him to be. With tears in my eyes, I am grateful God chose to put us together to be a team, and I know that the best years are yet to come.
Over time, I have definitely realized how truly different we are. The enemy would want us to focus on this as a negativity. My head is in the clouds, dreaming. His feet are on the ground. I can be more reserved in my humor. He has made me laugh from day one. I tend to not mind noise, he reminds me of the quiet. I tend to have little tact, this whole heart on my sleeve thing. He has amazing tact. I am fairly laid back with a, "Que Sera, Sera, Whatever Will Be, Will Be," attitude. He sees the need to care about the little things. I tend to mispronounce things. He seems to know how to pronounce everything correctly. I tend to be healthy. He has juvenile diabetes. In all of these things... we balance each other out when we allow God to make our differences the strengths in our marriage. I need him to ground me, he needs me to encourage his dreams. I desperately needed him to teach me to let loose and be goofy, and well, together we are hilarious. We find joy in my attempts to pronounce things, and after a little chuckle, his corrections really come in handy. Sometimes I need to embrace the quiet and with 3 boys and a large extended family, he has learned to embrace the noise. As for health goes, I am able to pray for him and believe for his healing with him. The enemy wants us to dwell on our differences in a negative light. I'm so done with nitpicking him, and have been for a while. I find that for every single thing I could nit pick about him, he could so nit pick things about me! So I'm not going to let the enemy win here. Rather, I will choose to be honest with him and we can work on things together.
Differences + God = Strengths because
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17
I was recently listening to Stephanie Frizzel's song, Promise I Always Will, and I began to weep. I have probably listened to this song a dozen times, but in that moment, it fit well to be another prayer for my marriage. Here are the lyrics. And here is the link to this beautiful song:
Take me back to the beginning
When I would look you in the eye
There was no such thing as a cold shoulder
And we lived within your hands and mine
And I love you I promise I always will
I love you. I promise I always will
And I chose you. Forever I choose you still
‘Cause I love you, and I promise I always will
Before we burn down all our bridges
Let’s look on what we've built
With patience asking for forgiveness
And watch our love grow deeper still
‘Cause I love you, and I promise I always will
I love you I promise I always will
And I chose you forever I choose you still
‘Cause I love you, and I promise I always will
In society today, it is so easy to make excuses for ending a marriage, or for being unfaithful in one. I am sure that some endings are justifiable, and I am not here to judge anyone, by any means. It is only in God's grace that this girl has survived life as I have known it. I have seen God first hand restore marriages when their have been very difficult struggles, such as cheating or addictions. I have also seen God first hand beautifully give grace for 2nd and 3rd marriages. I think the answer lies in God alone, and we shouldn't make excuses to take the easy way out.
God is certainly not in our perfect little box. He is gracious and kind, and leads our hearts to truth always as we follow Him. Thankfully, God has had mercy on this heart again. In the end, it is a choice. It is a choice to love our spouse every day, and let us remember we are accountable to the choices we make.
So no matter what, let's guard our hearts. Let's guard our marriages. Let's continue to allow God to create strengths from our weaknesses. And let's love. Let's love hard.
From Ephesians 5:
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church-- 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.