One Decade Down: marriage thoughts.

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I’ve been married for 10 years!

I know, crazy right? I wasn’t even a child bride.

10 years ago I decided to bet the farm on a curly-headed surfer who inspired me to dream bigger, see the unseen, and never quit.  I was sure our marriage would be perfect. I remember reading through the pre-marriage materials thinking, “gosh, I am so glad I am reading this now, we WILL NEVER BE THOSE PEOPLE”. You know the people I am referring to right? Those selfish, arrogant couples described in all the pre-marriage books who are always fighting. I was sure OUR marriage would be easier. After all, those people suck, and we were awesome. Not to mention, “God brought us together”, and “we loved each other”. Love is all we need, right?

Wrong.

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10 years ago I married a dreamer.

In 10 short years, we moved 8 times, had 2 kids, traveled to 6 different countries, and experienced 100s of wild adventures…. Some that I would do again.

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And in 10 long years we learned that despite our many similarities, we were as different as Mars and Venus. And that a picture perfect marriage, was harder than it looked… maybe impossible.

We laughed.

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We cried.

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We had love. But we needed something more.

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We lost.

We cared.

We embraced.

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We believed God would of sanctify us through our marriage, but it was hard. Maybe even harder than it was for the couples in the book.

We hurt.

We fought.

A LOT.

We failed to protect and then we drowned in grace.

And with GRACE:

We forgave.

We believed.

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We learned to LOVE each other thru that GRACE that covered us so completely. We experienced the depth of humanity within the battle for holiness. We realized that we needed grace MORE than we needed love. We needed to receive it, walk in it, and extend it every chance we got. Because grace would enable us to practice sacrifice and endure suffering.

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Always hoping.

Always trusting.

Always persevering.

And now believing, that LOVE, real love; love that comes by grace thru faith. That love NEVER FAILS.

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We thought our marriage would be perfect.

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Maybe it is.

Maybe the perfect marriage isn’t the one without spot or blemish, but the one that makes you more like Jesus. God has used our marriage for moments of great joy, but you know what I remember today? I remember the moments that filled my heart with hope and belief in the things unseen. And the moments that built trust in the sovereignty and wisdom of a Savior. Those moments are perfect. And for them and so much more, I am thankful for 10 years of a REAL marriage.

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“A man’s heart plans his way: but the LORD directs his steps”

Proverbs 16:9

Photography by Latisha Carlson. www.latishalyn.com

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Irreconcilable Differences

A good marriage is the union of two forgivers.

Ruth Graham

Irreconcilable Differences

Few would admit that they love a good fight. To suggest otherwise would make me seem crazy.

But statistics prove we either love to fight, or we are just too lazy to forgive.

Our unwillingness to do the work in our relationships, made famous by a little check mark next to a box that reads, irreconcilable differences.

If we were honest we’d admit the truth behind the irreconcilable mind is that we’d rather fight than forgive.

See, forgiveness is hard, but divorce… that’s a whole other story. You don’t even have to share my beliefs to agree that divorce is too easy; just check here and you’ll be free.

So instead of forgiving, we continue to fight and we start to think, “maybe next time we’ll get it right”.

And when the fighting reaches it’s ceiling, and the walls come crashing in on this whole “marriage thing”, we just shake our heads and sigh, “I guess he wasn’t the one for me”, and mark an x next to a tiny box on a page that reads, irreconcilable differences.

Irreconcilable differences, quit lying to me!! Get your hands off my marriage! Come, and see what I see.

I see a man on a cross, beaten and bleeding. To cover the very thing that made me think of leaving.

He say’s my marriage is worth it, and He’s not lying, so that divorce you are selling, you can keep it, I’m not buying.

I know true freedom isn’t found through sever. No, the kind of freedom I want, is only realized in surrender.

So I chose to lose more fights than I’ll win, and forgive often and freely; to let love, peace, and hope back in.

Because Truth, given a chance, will correct and restore. And will reconcile to Him all our differences from before. So maybe, one day, we won’t need that check box anymore.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

This is not the blog I originally set out to write. The blog I wanted to write fit nicely into 3 points that would be easy for you to remember and hard for you to ignore. Tools for your ever-growing toolbox, complete with poor attempts at humor. I planned to write that blog…and someday I might. Instead, however, I just want to beg you to make today freedom Sunday, and fight to forgive the people who’ve hurt you.

In no way am I suggesting forgiveness is easy, but I will say this:

God gives freedom through forgiveness unlike anything I’ve known, and there is enough grace to cover a whole multitude of wrongdoing. If you are struggling to forgive, I’m praying today is the day that you break free! Let God change your heart, and you can change the world.

If you’re not struggling to forgive this morning, would you join me in praying for marriages and relationships that have allowed difference to divide and sin to separate. Would you pray that they would know the freedom found in Jesus’ forgiveness, and be willing to extend that same love in response.

I’m praying for marriages this week. That they would be radical reflections of Jesus’ unending love for you and me.

PS… I’ve missed you

The Marriage Race

A high profile divorce made headlines again yesterday, and I prayed for you. I prayed for you and for me, for anyone who is or will be married in this generation or the next. I prayed for the future of marriage in general because sometimes it seems like the gates of hell are set against it.

The gates of hell, will not prevail. Matt 16:18

So I prayed for us, and then I wrote this blog.

A marathon is a long race. I’ve never run one. The closest I’ve come to a marathon is a 5k and it nearly killed me, but the two races share a common goal, just keep running, and finish the race. Even if it hurts, even if you are tired, just run.

When I ran my first 5k, my friend Janae ran the entire thing with me. You should know, she could have ran circles around me, but chose instead to serve as my own personal cheerleader. It was 19 degrees and there were many times I wanted to quit. But each time, there was Janae, smiling next to me encouraging me to just keep running. Her boundless energy drove me to insanity, but I knew she wasn’t going to let me quit. I venture to say had I tried to quit, Janae may have thrown me over her shoulder and carried me to the finish line. By the end of that race, I was running better than at the beginning, and all I really remember about it was how great it felt to finish, and how thankful I was Janae hadn’t let me give up.

During the race there were moments of joy and excitement, but it was at the finish line when I realized it had all been worth it, that I received my reward.

Marriage is like that. A race. For some a marathon, for others a 5k, only God knows the distance you’ll have to run but the principle remains the same.

Just keep running.

The reward of marriage isn’t realized instantly, although there are so many moments of great joy, the reward comes when we realize it is worth it… all of it. We cheat our spouse and ourselves when we lose sight of the reward and drop out of the race.

Just keep running.

Run past the hurdles. Few go into marriage blind, assuming there won’t be any trials, they assume instead they will be strong enough to jump over them… most are wrong. Truth is, we aren’t that strong. On our own, our flesh is the only strength we have, and like it or not, our flesh hates marriage.

Don’t be fooled, your flesh can’t love your spouse; it can only love the way your spouse makes you feel. Your flesh is dangerously narcissistic. Once that feeling of love is gone or challenged, a heart ruled by the flesh is ready to quit the race.

Just keep running.

Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. You have everything you need to push through life’s hurdles. Submit to the spirit in you and let Him fight for your marriage.

Just keep running.

Submitting to the Spirit might mean lightening your load (Heb 12:1), getting rid of anything that threatens your race. Look, the message of this world is this, “if it doesn’t work you can always get divorced and there won’t be any consequences”, drop out, quit the race. This message weighs down any marriage! Each time a trial comes, you’ll find yourself wondering if this is your marriage not working or thinking it might be time to bail. Have you heard that message? It’s everywhere. If it’s in you, ask God to clean it out, and run.

Just keep running until you finish the race.

How long is the race? Until death separates you. That’s what you promised. That’s what you agreed to when you said I do, on that day when forever didn’t seem long enough.

You don’t have to run alone.

There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He will never leave you or forsake you. He knows each tear you’ve cried. He is your ever-present help in times of trouble. He will bind any brokenness, and carry your burdens. His name is Jesus, and He knows your name too. Hold Him close to your heart, and He whispers in your ear, “keep running. I am your reward”.

I haven’t finished this race; I’m only eight years in. But I am still running. When hurdles pop up… and they always do… and when sin weighs me down, and it sometimes does, by God’s grace and strength I choose to keep running. Every time I have a chance to quit and choose to run instead, I grow stronger; we grow stronger, faster, better. There is great reward in being faithful.

Just keep running.

I don’t know what kind of hurdles you will face, and maybe it seems overly simplistic for some scenarios. But ask anyone who’s finished and they will tell you it is worth it in the end. God won’t give up on your marriage, and He is willing to carry you across that finish line, if you need Him to. However you make it across, He is cheering for you every step.

Believing God for radical marriages that change the world. Praying for you this week.

You can read how death saved my marriage here.

’til death unites us: fighting for marriage

People sometimes joke their spouse will be the death of them; mine really is, and I’m glad.

My husband Nick and I met and married in three months. I’m sure people assumed I was pregnant, I wasn’t. I just felt ready. I knew exactly the kind of man I wanted to marry (seriously, I had a list), and Nick exceeded my expectations. He sort of came at me like a freight train and, even though I was a little off guard, I was totally smitten.

We were ready

I cared very little about the details of our wedding. We even considered just going to the courthouse but the very idea sent my mother into a panic. In retrospect, I’m glad we had a wedding, it was awesome, and if I could parade around like a princess in my wedding dress every day I would… in fact I am wearing it right now. You know I’m kidding right? Back to the wedding… in 3 months we met, we got engaged, and got married (I think we went on a date too, but I honestly can’t remember if we were already engaged at the time). It was fast, but I was ready, and now looking back, I had been ready for years, and so had he.

Not that we were desperately seeking soul mates or anything, but I had decided long before meeting Nick that when I got married I would not stay married until death separated us, I would stay married because death united us.

Marriage isn’t about two separate lives coming together and hoping to beat the odds and somehow make it work, marriage is about two people dying and becoming one flesh.

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh”. Gen 2:24

God intended marriage to include total unity. The price of unity is death.

We were wrecked.

Our first year of marriage was really hard. To say we argued a lot doesn’t really describe what was going on in our heart and in our home. I felt lonely, needy, clingy, and I let my mind dream of a non-existent man who could bear the weight of my emotional baggage. I was dying. Nick felt suffocated, tricked, trapped, and frustrated that I wasn’t more of what he needed and less of what he could do without. He was dying. On more than one occasion I stormed out of our house with an empty suitcase, loaded it up in the car, and drove around the block until I remembered I had no place else to go. (Yeah, living on an island that first year was definitely God’s plan.) I always hoped my theatrics would entice Nick to run after me, desperate to make things right, he never did. I hated him for it. I was dying. Nick closed himself off emotionally and retreated to an office full of books and void of the constant dripping that was his new bride. He longed for days of old, when he could surf every day, leave his clothes on the floor, and eat what he wanted, when he wanted it. He wished I wasn’t so needy and emotional, and he hated me for it. He was dying. Death is sometimes painful to experience and is always painful to watch.

But there were days we woke up dead. Those days were different.

We were different. On those days we were a team, but not just a team, more like an impenetrable force to be reckoned with. It was powerful, bigger than us, stronger somehow. We were better together, we were one, and we magnified the Lord as one.

O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together. Psalm 34:3

Some will say we just needed time, but the truth is what we needed was Jesus. We needed Jesus to shed blood on our selfishness, to cover the multitude of our sins with His love, and to give us a new perspective on unity in marriage. We needed to learn that unity in this life was possible if we are willing to die for it.

We are willing.

Seven years and two kids later our marriage is perfect. We never fight, he always loves me, I always respect him, our children are insanely cute (at least that part is true- see pic). The problem isn’t even that our marriage isn’t perfect, the problem is that we are not perfect, so we die and let Christ rule in our heart and in our home. There are still days when our marriage is threatened by that man and woman we thought we’d killed…our former selves. So we kill them again, and again, and again, and each time we do, the bonds of our marriage are strengthened by the God in our heart. There is no unity without death, only a battle of the wills.

So, is it worth it? Heck yeah it’s worth it. He is worth it, I am worth it, we are worth it, but more importantly, God is worth it.

See God created marriage as a picture of His union with the church. The church united by His death. Sometimes it seems as though the gates of hell are set to destroy marriage and families, but by God’s grace, the gates of hell will not prevail.

It’s worth it…if you are willing to die.

To the married reader:

I hope you die. I hope you die every day, twice, maybe three times a day if that’s what it takes to strengthen the bonds of unity. I hope you lay down your life and fight for your spouse, because you are stronger together. Even in your weakness, as you submit to God’s will, He will be strong on your behalf.

To the unmarried reader:

Whether you are divorced or never married, I hope you die. I hope you die every day, and are united with Christ in heart and mind. And if you do marry, I hope you are prepared to wake up dead to be united to your spouse.

When marriage is the death of you, something far more powerful survives.

If you need prayer for your marriage, lack of marriage (single gals :0) ), or want to share a testimony of how God united you and your spouse through the death of your self, please leave a comment. I love to hear from you.

Praying for you this week, for your marriages, that they would be radical, restored, and resilient. And please, pray for mine too. This is how we change the world.