My husband, Paul and I have seen many years together. We are working on our 20th year of being married but I knew him for a couple years before we tied the knot. What an adventure it has been!
For me, it began when I was 16 years old. For some reason, I felt I needed to start praying for my future husband. So I began making a list of the qualities I wanted in him and I prayed, asking God to equip him with those qualities and others as He saw fit. I diligently prayed and as my list changed, so did my prayers. And I'm convinced that all the while, God was shaping me as much as He was shaping my husband to be. What a refinement process that must have been. I only know from my own perspective what my refinement was like. But God knows from His eternal perspective what happened and will continue to happen. I am confident that no matter what refining work God does within my heart or the heart of my husband, He has given me a beautiful gift to ease that process.
That gift is the gift of romantic love. The gift of marriage. I am so in love with my husband that it makes my days joyful and light and gives me something fantastic to look forward to every day. I would never have known how grand of a gift I was asking for, had I not gotten to spend my last 20 plus years loving Paul. Sure, we said, "I do". But the romance didn't begin there and it certainly didn't end there. It's honestly been the greatest gift I have ever been given.
This gift is as precious to God as it is to me...possibly even more precious, because He's realized it's potential all along, even before I knew what I was asking for. I'd be lying if I tried to tell you that it's always been easy. We've gone through our share of hard experiences. But in linking arms and pushing through together, we've grown even closer than we would have, had we not gone through those times. He has been my faithful friend, my lover, my confidant, my champion, my support, my pastor and my encourager our entire life together. And when things have arisen to threaten that bond, he's never once wavered in his love and pursuit of me. We purposed to faithfully love each other on our wedding day, and that has never changed for either of us.
It might sound arrogant to some, but I'll risk writing it. What I want is for my children to see how in love Paul and I are together so that they will pattern their expectations and their intentions after us. I want them to see us fight and make up. I want them to see me cry and Paul comfort me. I want them to see me comforting him too. I want them to see us experiencing the good times together and pushing through the hard times together...because that is part of this gift of marriage. We take the good and the bad and we praise God through it all. If our children see our weaknesses and how we pull through it together, they will expect and purpose to be faithful like that with their own spouses. It will be their "normal", because it is our "normal".
What Paul and I have, is becoming increasingly rare...but it is not extinct. There are many people out there who intend to love God by faithfully loving their spouses for better or worse. I'm banking on this, even as I pray for my future sons and daughters-in-law. Even though I've seen the definition of "normal" change in our society and even in the church, I believe there is a different standard to strive for that is empowered by God. It is a faithfulness that is higher and far superior to what the world would encourage. And I believe it is both a gift and an obedience.
Knowing how many people, both in and out of the Church, have had their lives touched by divorce, I am certain that this subject carries the potential to insight hard feelings. I'm not here to bring condemnation upon anyone. I am, however, here to bring encouragement to those, who are right now considering throwing in the towel and giving up.
The gift of a wife is a "reward", one to delight in all your fleeting days. I know it's hard. But I also know it's very very good. It's a gift worth fighting for. It's a gift worth clinging to. But the world would have you believe that you "don't deserve this". It would push you to believe you will never and never have found the kind of love you deserve in your marriage. It would convince you that you'd be happier if you walked away, that your children would be "just fine" in spite of the choice it wants you to make. But what the world will not remind you of is that your husband or your wife is a precious gift. Have you ever seen your spouse as a precious gift? Do you think of him that way now?
If you can't see this, then I would encourage you to take some time before you make any life altering decisions and dwell upon that thought for a while. He is a gift. She is a reward. Fight for what God has given you, and don't let yourself be so easily entangled. Your enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. He does not go easy on us because we are Christians. He wants to ruin your life, your marriage and the lives of your children. If your heart is being drawn in by the lie that divorce is your best option, consider the great God who gave the gift of marriage and then consider who it is that has your best interest in mind. If God is for you (and your marriage) who can be against you? Reach for the gift and the Giver. He will show you what it means to be faithful.