At the end of the year, it’s a good practice to look back and remind ourselves what we have to be thankful for. If I listed every blessing I’ve experienced this year alone, this blog would be far too long for you to read. Just off the top of my head, I’m thankful for the blessings of the kingdom work we get to do, the Spirit who indwells me, the truth of God’s word that inspires and teaches and changes me, and the hope of heaven growing ever nearer each year. I’m thankful for the opportunity to write (something I’ve always dreamed of doing and had no idea it would look like this). I’m also thankful for new and old friendships with believers and unbelievers, children who are walking with the Lord, the cutest, sweetest grandchildren who ever lived, a warm and cozy home, good health, aging parents who are still around and in good health, and a marriage that has stood the test of time.
That last one…marriage. I am truly thankful for mine. I don’t know why but God gave me a good, honest, godly man who makes me laugh, inspires me with His dedication to Christ and His passion for the gospel, and completes me. We are two halves of the same whole. His strengths offset my weaknesses. He is my true partner in life and I really can’t imagine what my life would have been like without him.
I also drive him nuts.
I don’t know about yours, but our marriage isn’t perfect. We work hard to keep our relationship with each other healthy. We’re both selfish people in our flesh. I’m an introvert; he’s an extrovert. I like to be quiet and think; he likes to talk. I’m a slow processor and need to think about questions; he’s a quick thinker and a rapid question-asker. I love baking shows; he likes sports. I’m a bit OCD about my house; he’s a reformed “messie” who picks up after himself just to please me. I like veggie pizza; he likes meat-lovers. I like sushi; he likes steak. I drink decaf; he’s a caffeine fiend. I can get lost in a fictional novel for hours and can stay up late to finish a book; he only reads non-fiction, and will have four books going at one time, reading a chapter from each randomly. He gets energized from being around lots of people; I crave quiet alone time, especially after a crowded event. He loves meeting and talking with strangers; I get tongue-tied and my mind goes blank trying to make small talk in a crowd. He loves a challenge; I love routine.
So, you might be thinking, what makes our marriage work? How do we do it? Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way.
#1 – We both belong to Christ.
There’s a reason God warns us not to become unequally yoked. It’s not that Christians are “better” than other people. It’s that we are all different (and opposites do usually attract), so if a marriage is going to work, you’d better have a strong, biblical foundation to build on. This is the important stuff, and it matters because everything else falls apart without it.
Being a Christ-follower means that we both have the Spirit of God indwelling us to empower us and enable us to love each other despite our differences. We can be patient. We can forgive. We can overlook faults. We can choose to submit to one another. We love each other because we love Christ, and His love overflows into our marriage. Every marriage can make it if two people surrender to Christ first.
#2 – We seek to follow biblical truth in every decision, big or small.
When we make the Bible the “final answer” to our questions and or differences, we both win. Yes, there are times when one of us has to give in and let the other have his/her way. But we have discovered that the Bible gives clear direction and guidance on every practical issue we have faced. And let’s be honest. The issues that can cause a marriage to get off track are usually pretty simple. The major disagreements are either about money, sex, or our children. If we are both committed to seeking biblical wisdom and obeying it in those three areas, everything else seems easy.
#3 – We understand we have to keep working at it.
After nearly 34 years of marriage, the first two items on this list aren’t even a question for us. We know that we must continue to grow spiritually as individuals; we are committed to following Christ, and to making the Bible the supreme authority in our life. We don’t really even think about those things; it’s just “who we are” at this point in our lives.
But we also understand that we will never get to a point where we can just take our marriage for granted, and we dare not take each other for granted. We have to work hard to be intentional to truly love each other and show that love.
We need to go on dates.
We need surprises.
We need to be kind in our words.
We need to continue to find things to do together.
We need to take care of each other.
And here’s a hard one: we need to be willing to change! I’m not the same person I was when I got married. I’ve grown up; I like different things; I’m not quite as shy as I used to be; I’m more opinionated (trust me!); I’ve experienced a lot of life, and I’ve learned a lot of things. The same goes for my husband.
I’ve changed; he’s changed; and we’ll probably both continue to change…so we need to be willing to change for each other and appreciate the changes we see in each other.
I’m looking forward to 2019, and in another blog post I’ll probably talk about some goals for the new year. But today, I’m looking back with a grateful heart for what God has accomplished in 2018, and how He continues to grow me in my faith and in my roles as a wife, mother and grandmother. I certainly haven’t arrived, and I’m so thankful He’s not done with me yet!
How about you? What are you grateful for this year? What has God done in your life in 2018?