Is your marriage perfect? If you’re nodding, you’re lying. If you’re not lying, then we can’t be friends. I don’t have room for that kind of perfection in my life. Here’s why.
My husband and I got into a disagreement this week. For the life of us we couldn’t see eye to eye. This was probably our 400th squabble this year. Not that I’m counting, and not that I’m prone to exaggeration. And even though during arguments it seems like my husband writes down all the things I do wrong and remembers every fight, I know he doesn’t really. Because a true marriage isn’t a tally of wrongs and rights, but a union of two people willing to forgive more times than they can count. I learned this the hard way.
My three-year-old niece is obsessed with Disney princesses. She gets an idea of what love should look like from cartoons. And just when the relationship begins, the movie ends. You know why? Because even for Disney, the forever after is forever a challenge – and it’s not always worthy of a cartoon love story. Actually, according to God’s design, it’s worthy of much more. In many ways, though, we are like my niece in her play wedding dress.
Most of us have grown up with a slightly warped perception of marriage. My husband thought he would marry a super model. I thought my husband would be an actor or writer. We were both wrong. He married a girl who can pass for pretty, but who will never have model features. I married a man who would rather build with his hands than read a book. We knew marriage wouldn’t be easy, but we never fathomed how much we would be refined through it.
Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, says the purpose of marriage is not to make you happy, but to make you holy. Read that again: the purpose of marriage is not to make you happy, but to make you holy. I first read that as I Googled Godly marriage advice after one of our arguments. Can I tell you how that shifted my perception of our marriage? This was amazing news! This meant that good could come from my marital squabbles. This meant that Jesus was using my husband both when he was Christ-like and when he was Adam-like to mold ME into a better woman. And likewise, God has allowed my one or two flaws (ha!) to help mold Mike into a better man. In our struggles, we are refined. Through this imperfect union we are becoming more perfect to serve God’s kingdom.
From this perspective, it’s obvious why Satan would have a target on our Mr. and Mrs. titles. I picture a glowing neon target on our marriage that says: SEEK AND DESTROY. Why? As we seek Christ though our union we can become powerhouses. Between the two of us we have ministries, we are seeking to raise Godly children, and we are witnessing to everyone around us by our imperfect example of God’s perfect grace in our life.
What about you? What are you accomplishing for God’s kingdom through your marriage? It’s likely much more than you think. Our marriages have too much at stake to become statistics. Would you agree?
When I fight with my husband, I’ve learned I need to find my grace space. Where I seek out God and ask for His wisdom. When I don’t seek my grace space, words fly out of my mouth like daggers. Or sometimes, words don’t come out at all, and instead I lock them inside where they fester and grow stronger and more dangerous. Do you sometimes fall prey to this? Are marriages weren’t created to be perfect. We’ll never find our own perfection in Christ if our marriage doesn’t help refine us. But sometimes we let Satan into our safe place when we don’t seek our grace space.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:26-27 to go ahead and be angry, but he gives us a caveat. And when we’re married it’s the caveat we often ignore. Don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life (The Message). Before I was a believer, I remember hearing those words and thinking they were absurd. Who doesn’t go to bed angry? If you’ve been married long enough you know there are times when it’s a gift of grace that you go to bed angry – otherwise you can’t be held accountable to what you might say or do to your husband. Now I try to find my grace place. But it’s not always soon enough. That caveat sometimes feels like my cross. And then Satan comes waltzing into my bedroom like he owns the place.
In the coming weeks, I’m going to be writing a series called “Keeping Satan Out of Your Bedroom.” I’ll share five ways we inadvertently invite Satan into our bedroom (and sometimes even in our bed), along with five ways we can unite with our spouse to keep Satan out. I will share wisdom that will allow each of us to elevate our marriages beyond a stale state of union to a true holy matrimony.
You won’t want to miss this series! If you haven’t already subscribed to direct emails, you can do so here! If you lead a small group or church group in Central or Northern Virginia, I’d love to speak on this topic with your group! You can check out more on speaking on my Speaks page.