Monday, December 28, 2015

Behind the White Dress Part I: Is This "Normal?"

The door slammed shut as he left angry and hurt and I stood crying and hurt once again. This wasn't the first time.

We fight. Sometimes they are really big fights, sometimes they are small disagreements.(Sometimes they are really big fights where we don't talk to each other for a few days and say very hurtful, regretful things over something stupid like putting egg shells back in the carton or putting them in the garbage disposal asap) Either way, we do fight. I remember after our first year of marriage (which was really rough), we received a card in the mail from a couple I really respected and thought that they had the "perfect" marriage. The card was simple; it stated how they wanted to congratulate us on making it our first year. The thing that surprised me the most was that they said that their first year of marriage was their roughest. That was the most encouraging thing I could have received. Knowing that even the couples I deem as having "the perfect marriage" had really tough times was comforting because I saw their marriage and what it was that day and how happy they were. It gave me hope.

With all of the ways we can come across as perfect these days (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), it is so easy to believe that we are alone in our struggles and that BECAUSE we struggle, we must be doing something wrong or that we just are not meant for each other after all. Let me first off say, that is a lie that the devil tries to feed you. If you are married, you are meant for each other. But that is a topic for another time. Seeing all the happy couples posted all over Facebook can make you long for things to be different, yet you don't realize that those people also are human and most of all, they are sinners just like you and your spouse.

My hope and goal for starting this series is not to brag about out struggles and fights because they are sinful and selfish and do not reflect God's glory well. BUT, I want to let you know that while they are sinful, we do struggle. We suck at this marriage thing sometimes. We mess up. We yell. We say hurtful things. We swear in moments of anger. We have gone days without talking to each other. We have refused to talk. We struggle with various temptations. We have done "right" things with the "wrong" motives. No, again let me repeat, all of these things are awful and sinful and so very selfish. We are still in a fallen world fighting sin every single day. We are fighting the temptation to be complacent in our marriage. You cannot be complacent. You either grow or rot. There is no in between. I have seen couples (some newly married, some married for many years) who are going through a rough patch and from the outside looking in, it seems like they are just filled with hopelessness. Probably from things they are alone. They are struggling so much in their marriage and because of that, something just isn't working (all of which is true, but the answer to what isn't working, is not that it is the other person). Many are so dissatisfied. Or I'll see couples who are not in a bad spot necessarily, but they are just complacent. Not happy like they once were, but eh not really angry all the time so why change anything?

I feel humbled writing this because I don't feel like we are the experts on marriage. We just finished going through marriage counseling (our previous Pastor recommended that after we are married a year, we go do some more counseling because by then, the honeymoon stage is over and issues start to arise as you learn to live with another person.). It was great but man it sucked! Because we are striving to have a great and godly marriage, anytime we went to counseling, it was almost discouraging because we would end up having a large fight over something. Anytime we were not striving to do better and were just complacent, it was smooth sailing. Healing a wound hurts. You can leave it alone, but eventually infection will set in and it will get worse and worse. OR you can do the things that hurts and peel the bandage off each day, take the time to clean the wound, and then dress is properly to avoid infection and further damage down the road. It hurts and it doesn't feel good but if you don't and you just leave it be, you will regret it and wonder what happened. It will seem to get bad over night, but really, you have been slowly rotting your marriage without realizing it. So, just maybe, your struggles are because you are striving to be above average with your marriage. Cling to God, know that He WILL bring you through it. Consider counseling and don't be ashamed of it. It is a wonderful thing to do. It is growing and a means of sanctification. Struggles don't mean that you need to just get out, struggles are warning signs of something wrong. It is a chance to heal. It is a chance for growth.

So know that John and I are not anywhere near perfect (in fact, we just had a disagreement this morning but it was a chance for growth and humbling. A chance to destroy my pride some more and a chance for me to grow in humility and love. And I didn't let him leave angry and hurt. We made as much of amends as we could in a short time and will "fix" the rest when he gets home if it needs to be fixed). I wanted to let you guys in on that little secret though I'm sure a lot of you guys already knew that. We struggle. But we also know that the struggles are a chance at sanctification and showing us that God really is working and we are thankful that he is not allowing us to just be complacent in our marriage. He allows us to be uncomfortable and is more worried about our holiness than our temporary happiness.

My dear ones, let me leave you with this dear, comforting, and wonderful verse full of hope:

Philippians 1:6
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.