“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.’” Genesis 2:18 (NLT)
One of my favorite wedding pictures isn’t one you might expect, like the first look, walking down the aisle, or the first kiss. It’s a photo of us facing our audience right after we were announced as Mr. and Mrs. Hendrickson. We were looking down at our feet, holding hands tightly and taking our first steps off of the platform into the grass below. Our first steps. Just like babies. We were SO ready to take that step because it meant that we were finally, actually, really married.
I love the joy on our faces in that photo. Maybe if we had known some of the storms we would weather in the next few years of marriage, we wouldn’t have been so eager to jump off and get going, haha! We made powerful promises to each other that day, but we had no idea what we were really saying. It would have been terribly easy to just stay on that platform, surrounded by the people who love us most in the world. But oh, how would we ever have the chance to prove that we MEANT what we said in our vows?
William G.T. Shedd said, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” We were never meant to stay on that wooden stage in the woods. We took that first step, and every step we’ve taken since has been together, for better AND for worse, for richer AND for poorer, in sickness AND in health.
But we couldn’t have done it without help. The Gospel has transformed both of us through marriage, and we are so different now from those people we were on that day years ago. That’s why who you marry matters. You are picking the person you’ll grow with for the rest of your life, through years and years of changes. Ann Voskamp puts it so beautifully: “That’s the unspoken miracle of marriage: you vow to keep loving someone who keeps growing into a mysterious stranger.”
Not only that, but you are the picking the person with whom you will model to the rest of the world what you believe about God and how He relates to His people. That’s what marriage does! Have you ever thought about that? Marriage was created for God, not for us. A covenant isn’t saying “I promise to keep my vows…as long as you keep yours.” A true covenant means “I promise to keep my vows, regardless of whether you keep yours or not.” Marriage was designed to reflect the God we follow – the God who loves us even when we don’t love Him, the God who made a covenant with us and not only keeps it, but took the punishment we deserved for NOT keeping it. God chose marriage as His primary symbol of His relationship between Himself and the church, so honor Him by taking marriage seriously.
If you’re not married yet: pray that, if God gives you the gift of marriage, He will give you joy and patience to endure the difficulties. And if and when you do get married, don’t pick the person you’re most attracted to, or the person you’ve been with the longest, or the person you’re with because you’re lonely and want to be with someone. Pick the person who actually imitates Jesus and motivates you to do the same.
If you’re already married and struggling to remember why: intentionally reflect on the promises you made. Pray for your spouse, even when you don’t want to. Choose to love them even when you just hate them. God can restore anything. No marriage is too far beyond repair.
This is the first post for “Married Monday,” a new series I’ve started in order to expose myths and lies we’ve been told about married life, celebrate moments of joy and growth, chew on hard truths and sprinkle them with grace, and remind others (and myself!) that marriage doesn’t work without Christ in it. I have lots of ideas, but I’d love your input too! What topics would you like to see covered?