So, I've committed to dedicating the month of May towards Marriages, of which I am a huge believer, supporter and fan. I love marriage, and not just my own! As I approach my fifth year of marriage (yes... what a milestone), I find myself in deep thought over the last few years: what I've learned, what I've had to improve on, what I've experienced in my personal life and what I've experienced, jointly, with Jarrett. Marriage is beautiful, when both partners are equal in their pursuit of cultivating love and devotion with one another. It can be overwhelming when one or both are not.
When a couple devotes to each other in marriage, they are promising to take on the good and the bad; and although most couples say "I do" with only the good in mind, it is amazing how those incredibly difficult times can help shape the more enjoyable ones. That, to me, is the true mystery of marriage.
It's no secret that our generation is quite skeptical of the institution of marriage. People are becoming more and more likely to co-habitate than to marry and those who do marry choose to do so at a much older age than the generation before us. Ask any 22 year old about marriage, and she'll probably reply that she's not ready or that she has other goals in mind for now. And that's cool. Marriage should not be our sole desire in this life. There are so many opportunities that we can only experience and accomplish while being single. But, should you ever come upon the desire or opportunity to marry, my advice is to do so with your whole heart, in light of Christ's love, for you both!
I have many friends who are in strong marriages and relationships, but aren't necessarily 'Christians'. They have wonderful, healthy marriages and they are happy together and prosperous. So I'm not saying that marriages outside of the Christian church are doomed or unhealthy. This just isn't true.
But what I do believe is that when a couple who follows Jesus decides to get married, they enter into a sacred covenant that involves a purpose beyond themselves. According to Scripture, this is the very mystery and transformation into Christ’s likeness while also ushering God’s kingdom here on Earth (Matthew 6:9-15). Thus, a marriage built on Christ is lived beyond the here and now. It's that particular couples' opportunity to express and experience eternity for the whole world to see!
Marriage is first introduced to us in Genesis, through the creation and joining of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2). If you are not moved by this story or if you don't believe in it, that's ok. Just use it symbolically, if you'd like. So, at the climax of creation, God created one man and one woman; very different, yet extremely equal. It was His good pleasure and ingenous idea to form us so that we fit together... yeah, take that statement literally. Our body parts (male and female) are a beautiful puzzle piece that fits just right into each other; creating physical and sexual unity in addition to spiritual oneness (Genesis 2:24). And, based on this formulation, it was God's plan to make one man for one woman. There was no Megan or Amina in the Garden with Adam and Eve. There was no Terrance or Dave either. Just Adam and just Eve- this points to a very vital characteristic of the virtues in Christian marriage: monogamy.
The decision to devote oneself to only one other person, for life, serves as an example and a reminder of God’s desire to be our only source and our only diety (Exodus 20:3-5). One God, one people. One husband, one wife. Beautiful.
As our marriage day approached, I was beyond nervous- I knew Jarrett would become my one and only lover- transcending my identity from a girlfriend and into a wife. I knew that my Dad would no longer be my ultimate source of security and that my future would be intimately intermingled with another person for the rest of my life. It was utterly exciting, and completely scary! But, we knew that Christ had aligned our hearts. I had some questions, but no doubts. Because of our obedience, we both were free and unhindered by regrets. And because we both knew God's love, we were free to exchange God's love in purity, in sincerity and in truth. This doesn't come as happenstance, it's cultivated by intentional faith. That's the difference between marriage God's way and marriage the world's way: It's a party of 3.
I was not always, however, focused on God in the beginning of our marriage. To be quite truthful, I was more so focused on myself, through expectations that I had placed on Jarrett to be my "knight in shining armor". Did I love him? Yes! Did I love Jesus? Yes! Was I keeping Jesus first and sacrificing my needs and agenda for the harmony of my marriage? No.
At the time, I wouldn't have admitted this because I wasn't aware of this. But, as Jarrett and I began to mature in our love for God and for each other, the Lord began to show me areas in my heart where I was not loving, selflessly. I was loving emotionally, but emotional love is not synonymous with the unconditional love of Christ. It takes Jesus to love like Jesus, so as we are venturing on in our marriages, engagements and even dating, we have to remember to plug ourselves into the unfailing love of