Just the other day...I was a new bride. Our first home was quaint and colorful, filled with light, just like I had dreamed. I had taken the time to make sure every room was organized and perfect. Most of our belongings were brand new...treasures from numerous wedding showers. The lawn and yard was well-manicured, thanks to the hard work of the previous owners. And my precious husband had planted a rose garden just beyond my kitchen window as a graduation gift (we married right before I "officially" graduated from college).
Life in those days consisted of going to work and then heading to the gym afterwards. I would arrive home later and my groom and I would either cook together, or I would cook while he worked in the yard. Many days, we would eat supper on the deck and enjoy the gorgeous late afternoon sun. Then, we would roller blade, ride bikes, or walk our chocolate Labs around the neighborhood before heading in to get ready for bed.
It was the life I had always dreamed about.
In this moment, I can't tell you how far-removed I feel from that starry-eyed young bride.
As much as I would like for my life now to be that organized...
I wouldn't go back to it if I could, and I certainly wouldn't go back to my marriage then...no way!
Those first few months we had together were precious, don't get me wrong, but to be honest I wouldn't want to be the me that I was then. I wouldn't even want to be married to the "he" that he was then. Of course, I loved my him, but that love, though I didn't know it at the time, was so shallow in comparison to the love we now share...even though we were madly "in love" with each other!
The deep kind of love we now share is so much richer than anything we shared in the early days of our marriage. It's the kind of love that comes from standing beside each other through the up's and down's of life, no matter what. It's the kind of love that only comes through the testing of marital commitment, and if need be, the embracing of it for a time. In the long run, it's that kind of testing that serves to make a marriage something of true beauty.
Had I left at the first sign of any trouble, we would have missed the satisfaction that comes from fighting together and winning the battle.
Had he thrown in the towel the first moment he didn't "feel" like putting up with the old ball and chain, he would have missed the admiration and trust of a woman who feels completely secure in his arms.
Had we decided to run when the "feelings faded", our children would be suffering through all the painful experiences that come out of separation and divorce.
We've stuck it out through some pretty rough times, and the point is...we stuck!!!
It's because we made a commitment long ago...a "til death do us part" covenant before God and man. In our minds, our commitment means that the "D" word will never be tossed around. It's simply not an option in either of our minds. It's a decision that was made long before we ever walked down the aisle, and it's a decision that has helped us stay the course.
When divorce is taken out of the equation, suddenly marriage becomes the commitment it was meant to be.
It means that a couple who may have quickly turned to a lawyer for a resolution, turns instead to Almighty God for the salvation of it all. And I can assure you, God cares about the success of a marriage far more than the sum of the bride and groom put together!
One day, I will be found standing beside a man who hardly resembles the man I stood beside on that gorgeous day in April of 2001 (I hardly recognize him even now)! And one day, he will be found standing beside a similar, but very different woman. You see, as time continues to pass, the Lord continues to grow he and I both. As we have been through "stuff" and submitted to the Lord, we look more like His dream than our own.
And that's just the way it should be.
For God's dream for marriage is not that it is perfect, but that it is a living, breathing example of His unconditional, marked-by-covenant, amazing love for us!
I'm so thankful that we chose to do things God's way!! We are reaping the benefits of it today...and that, my friends, is why I would never go back to the way things were.
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