What’s the secret to a GREAT marriage? What does it take to have a healthy, long-standing, REAL relationship?
End of post. Please email me your answers.
Ok, so you might have guessed that since I titled this post the way I did, I may have two cents to contribute to the topic.
I do. It’s one theory, really, but I’ve found it to be quite profound. And the combination of personal experience, listening to close friends, and a deeper study of scripture has lead me to this conclusion:
It’s all about Grace, my friends.
Wikipedia has defined Grace “not as a created substance of any kind, but as ‘the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it'”. Or, as I was taught to recite growing up, “Grace is UNDESERVED LOVE.”
Lately, I’ve been surrounded by soon-to-be married couples. They’re planning their beautiful day, the honeymoon, and looking forward to happily ever after. (If that’s you, this post is especially for you.) I was the same way almost 6 years ago. And it’s not that I don’t have my happily ever after. I do. And so do many of my married friends. But several of us have said to one another, “Why didn’t anyone tell us?! Why didn’t anyone sit us down and say, ‘hey! Marriage is HARD!’?”
Maybe someone did. Maybe our rose-colored glasses were far too peachy for us to listen.
At any rate, it always seems to come as a surprise, doesn’t it? When bad times come (which we all declared in our vows!), it’s like- WHOA, this is REALLY REALLY tough.
Marital difficulties and challenges vary as greatly as the people in the world. There are no two circumstances alike. And I don’t pretend to know what’s going on with you and yours, but here’s a little food for thought if you’re walking through one of those times.
Give Grace like Jesus did.
The obvious act of underserved love is His death on the cross. Nothing says “I love you” like truly giving up your entire life.
And then, the perhaps not so obvious demonstration of His daily Grace was simply the way He lived His life here on earth. Jesus lived and walked this earth as a MAN. He had family, a group of fellas, and many people he considered his best friends. The Bible is full of encounters where he interacts with those individuals.
The crazy thing about all of those relationships? Each and every person he lived life with was FLAWED. They were selfish, greedy, short-sited, undisciplined, heartless, lazy, and the list goes on. These people were sinners. They did not love Jesus perfectly. And yet, he loved them unconditionally. No matter what they did, said, or thought- He loved them. He loved them SO passionately that he stuck with them… all the way to the cross.
I believe that it would have been very easy for Jesus to stay in the temples and preach all of His days, letting the people come to Him. He could have spent ALL His time speaking the Word of God had He not spent time socializing, going to dinners and on long walks with his friends.
Have you ever thought about why He did this?
One reason may be so that he could model for us what Grace LOOKS like. We now have one example after another in the Bible to look back on to truly SEE what Grace in action looks like. That’s no accident, people.
I believe we are meant to take that example and live our lives that way. In every relationship, yes, but especially marriage.
The unique thing about marriage is that after some time has passed, we take a good hard look at our spouse and realize that he or she is MESSED UP. His once cute annoyances are now practically deal-breakers. You never imagined that she could have such deep insecurities trapped inside. It can be a rude awakening, and when life really happens, those demons come out to play. And it’s UGLY.
It’s only natural to want to protect ourselves from hurt and pain, especially from a loved one. Society tells us that we deserve happiness all the time. And to abandon anything that makes you feel otherwise. Jesus says (and did) run to it. Run to it (or your spouse) with Grace.
When you’re dealing with some tough decisions, when you’re questioning everything about your life and your marriage, remember God’s UNDESERVED LOVE. Can you do that for your spouse? Can you stop crying/screaming/fighting long enough to keep in mind that Grace flows both ways?
Although you may feel as though you’re the one that has currently been “wronged”, someday, the roles WILL (not MIGHT, but WILL) be reversed. Remember that whole FLAWED thing? Yeah, you are, too. And when you really mess up, you’re going to want your spouse to show you some Grace.
When we take the time in the middle of the storm to remember God’s example, it may just be a bit easier to extend Grace to your spouse. And you just might get it in return.
This is where God’s unbelievable power and miraculous works start to form. When we submit to Jesus’ ways, we are making room for the Spirit to do incredible things in our lives and our marriage.
When we recall that we are two imperfect people striving for a perfect marriage, we should fully recognize that it only resembles such when we include the perfect example: Jesus and his completely Amazing Grace.