About two weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking for a few minutes at a ladies brunch held at my church. The theme for the brunch was Seasons of Life, and it included five women speaking about their current season of life, ranging from a Young Professional to a Golden Girl. What I loved most about the event, was that I was able to glean something from each woman who spoke, no matter the different seasons between us. Since I am in a transitional season (between newlywed and busy mom), I spoke for the newlywed season. God placed a few things on my heart, and after sharing, I had quite a few people ask me to blog what I wrote, so here we are.
Seasons of Life
Once Upon a Time, there was a strong, camo-covered, deer hunting, God-fearing young man. His mind was more concerned with mechanics and guns, than of girls and fairy-tales. His days were spent tracking his prey through the fields of West Texas, searching for the perfect shot. When he walked through the church he captured the attention of all the fair maidens, and yet, not once did he look. With his piercing blue eyes, infectious laughter, and dark chocolate hair, he was quite the trophy buck of the university group.
Just a few steps down the church hall was a fair-skinned, green eyed, got the world by a string, God-fearing girl. A girl who had been known to skip her boring college history class to try on prom dresses with friends… just because. On any given day, this girl would be known to drench herself in pink and glitter, and own the Lubbock wind. She enjoyed the company of her dearest girlfriends, her church family, and most importantly her own family more than anything. And she had big dreams of changing the world one day at a time through her show on Fox News Channel. Sure she had had a few suitors, but none could quite capture her heart.
Then one day, the man of her dreams took her by the hand and danced his way into her heart. These two kids were as different as night and day, yet on one Providential night, God brought them, differences and all, together to begin the beautiful journey He had laid out before them.
In a just a short period of 8 months, these kids would transition from friends, to smitten lovebirds, to fiancees, to husband and wife. At the time, they thought they had a handle on all that was to come. After all, they were 21, living on their own, starting his career, and taking on a new (to her) city. What they didn’t know is that mixed in with the sweetest days of their life, would be the hardest moments. Moments that would challenge their faith, challenge their perseverance, and challenge those vows they had taken. Yet, they determined, in spite of the good and bad, in spite of all their differences, their covenant between themselves and their Creator would not be broken.
I recently read an article that stated, “you guys are about to plant some seeds that will take root in your marriage and will be around for decades to come. Plant wisely.”
My husband and I make no jokes about our first year of marriage being the hardest. And looking back, for most of that year, we planted seeds of division. Seeds from Satan that focused on our differences rather than what unified us. We quickly learned that God cannot reside in a home, in a marriage where seeds of division are sown. Once we learned from our many mistakes, and started working in unity against the weeds of resentment, anger, frustration, shame, and pride, the seeds of humility, gentleness, forgiveness, perseverance, peace, unity, and love began to take over and push out those evil weeds. With each new year, fewer and fewer weeds pop up, but the seeds we have sown need constant tending and nurturing.
When I first began writing this “conversation”, as I like to call it (because I don’t want the conversation to end here), I attempted to write out a list of what Jordan and I have done in an effort to plant better seeds within our marriage. But as I began to think about the women I am surrounded by, and the marriages that are represented around me, my little step-by-step list seemed so small. The fact of the matter is that at the right time, through every trial of our first few years, God has granted us His abundant Grace to not only survive in a world that mocks His most sacred union, but to also THRIVE!
Even though the list in my head seems small, I still wanted to this conversation to be something more than a testimony or devotion. I prayed God would give me the words to say to any wife, new or experienced, excited or in despair, words that she could take home, cling to, and find encouragement from. Any step-by-step list I could think up to describe how we have at times survived and at other times thrived cannot match the steps God has given us in Ephesians 4.
Ephesians 4: 2-3 NLT
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.
- Always be humble and gentle- When J and I first got married, I’m sad to say that He was much better at saying “I’m Sorry” than anything else. Often times, I would push the limits of his humility with the sting of my words, and yet almost every time, he would come back and apologize. As soon as he would utter the most humble words in the world, every wall of anger I had built up was destroyed. A fruitful marriage cannot be the product of two selfish ambitions. When we choose to react with humility and gentleness, God receives the glory in our marriage, and Satan’s weeds are once again plucked out of our home.
- Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love- I think every woman can attest that we, as well as our husbands, are by no means perfect. If you were to have a peek into our home, you would often see cabinets and doors left open across the house, boots in the middle of the floor, and tools always left on the kitchen counter I just cleaned. On any particular day, these little “Jordanisms” can dampen my once good mood, but when I take a moment to be patient, count to 10, and make yet another allowance for his faults, I am reminded that I have a tendency to wreck a room when trying to get ready, I also am late everywhere, and it drives him crazy when I’m on my phone in the car…yet again. We all come with quirks, but when we allow those quirks to detract from our marriage, then we have made an agreement with Satan that basically says “my frustration with him means more to me, than my resolve to patiently love him in spite of his quirks.” The phrase “because of your love” brings it all back home. I don’t choose patience or looking past his faults because I am a doormat, but rather because I love him with every part of my being. Everything comes into perspective when I think about the way God looks at me. Each day, I fail him, despite giving my life to him 17 years ago. Yet, each day, He looks past my faults because He loves me so very much. Not only is the thought of His love humbling, but it encourages me to do the same. If my perfect God can look at me with with such patient and loving eyes, then by all means, I can look at my husband with the same Grace extended towards me.
- Lastly, “make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”- I chose the New Living Translation version of this verse because of the verb tense. Make every effort to keep…binding yourselves together with peace. The use of the word binding implies an action that is ongoing, continual. This means that the efforts to keep yourselves united is a daily activity and choice. Realistically, the statistic of marriage and divorce is where it is today because Satan thrives in division. With each passing day where division is chosen over the choice to make every effort to be unified, a greater chasm is forged. As shown through the little story I began with, Jordan and I are as different as they come. We think differently, we operate on opposite ends of the spectrum, and our priorities on a daily basis often don’t quite match up (hello…hunting season), but those differences have no bearing on the state of our marriage. Sure they make up who we are as individuals, but they cast no weight on who we are as a unit when we make the effort to bind ourselves in peace.
For every lady who reads this, whether you’ve been married for two or fifty-two years, I urge you to memorize this verse. Let God’s Word guide you through every mountain and valley through your marriage. For the newlyweds, you are surrounded by women who have defied the odds of our era in their marriages. Find a woman you trust, and let her mentor you as you begin your life as a wife. Let her stories challenge you and encourage you. For each woman, kneel before your Savior and pray. I cannot be the wife, mother, sister, daughter, or friend I am called to be if I do not kneel before Jesus. Pray for your marriages, whether your marriage is in spring or winter. Pray for your husbands, daily, asking God to protect him from the evil of this world. Above all, center your heart, your dreams and aspirations, your mind, and your marriage, center your entire being on Jesus Christ, only through Him will you be bound in peace.
Now back to the story- fast forward a few years and here we are, those two lovebirds now are a mama and daddy. Kneeling side by side before their Savior, they have created a life together that cannot be touched by even the sweetest of fairy-tales. Together they have slayed some monstrous dragons, and won. Together, they have smiled and danced through the most beautiful moments in life, capturing the sweetest memories along the way. Together, they have chosen to serve. Together, they have chosen peace over selfish gain. Together, they have chosen to put their Happily Ever After at the feet of Jesus, knowing His plan is perfect.
I realize that was a lot to read, and I thank you for taking the time to read it. If you read this and feel the need to talk, please contact me. I’d love to encourage you, pray for you, and listen to you whenever you need it! May you all know just how loved you are!