Those of you who have heard me share my testimony or have read my vision regarding marriage know that I do not take marriage lightly. It is a battle–not a battle against my husband (though I have been guilty of trying to make it one), but against the devil. Although Dave and I have been through the fire (mostly of our own making), we have a good marriage now. Solid. Safe. However, I do not take it for granted. I understand that the covenant we made is a serious one–one that leaves a legacy to our children and to many others God has placed in our lives. Our marriage is a reflection of our faith in God Almighty, which makes it a target.
As 2015 dawned this morning, I was in prayer. The house was quiet (and still is, hence my ability to put together coherent sentences), and I was reflecting on last year and looking forward to this one. I am not a big resolution-maker in the traditional since, but I am a goal-oriented person. I am also a believer in asking for God’s help in the day-to-day; because, quite frankly, I need it. So, I journaled some prayers for me personally, for my children, for ministry and for my marriage. There were prayers of gratitude and prayers of praise and prayers of just out-and-out asking for provision.
There was a time early in our marriage when I prayed earnestly and sincerely that God would help me to not love my husband. I’m serious. I prayed that with incredible (and alarming) passion. You see, I was hurting. My marriage was not what I thought it would be, and it hurt. I thought that my heartache was a result of my great love for my husband, and so I asked God to quench my love so that I would no longer know such tremendous pain. I had it all backwards. What I should have asked is that God would help me to love Dave better–to love him like Christ loved him. Selflessly. Wholly. With purity and sacrifice. My heartache was not due to any great love on my part, but only my experience of unmet expectations. I was not getting what I thought I should be getting, and it hurt. My expectations were focused on what I felt that I should receive–not on what I felt that God was asking me to give. During this time, a woman named Carol said during a Sunday School class that expectations were the quickest way to destroy a marriage. I didn’t understand exactly what this veteran wife meant when she said it. After pondering it for a while, I did understand…and it made me mad. So, I rebelled. Which made things worse. It was awful.
Anyway, that was approximately seventeen years ago. The “awful” is gone. It has been replaced by grace. Grace from God, grace from Dave to me and from me to Dave. It’s a good place. Still not perfect. Still not easy. But filled with grace.
So, here’s my prayer for my marriage this year. It’s similar to recent years, but still earnest and sincere and from the bottom of my heart:
“Lord, strengthen my marriage. Always strengthen my marriage. Replace my fears with faith. Help me to die to my own selfishness. Help me to see Dave as You would have me see him–as Your gift to me. Protect our relationship from the one who seeks to destroy it. Grow us in unity, in love and in grace. Thank You, Jesus. You are worthy of all that I have, all that I am, all that I can ever give. Amen.”