“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
I like my husband. I think he’s kind, interesting, good-looking, compassionate and generous among a million other things. Usually these are the thoughts that are at the front of my mind when I get to spend any measure of time with him. I am grateful for my marriage. The joy and growth in Christ I have experienced as a Mrs is palpable. However, there are other days when finding that joy is a struggle. There are days when I have been up till 4am with an infant and my alarm goes off at 7am to get to the work of attending to our toddler and our baby before rushing off to the office. My husband may have slept peacefully through the night, never letting the hungry cries of our newest bundle disturb his sleep. There are days when I am thinking ahead for our budget for the next month and trying to see ways to tighten our respective belts and the love of my life walks into the house with an expensive (necessary?) new purchase that could have waited another month (or lifetime).
During these times when I’m struggling to like, understand, and submit to my husband, something other than my husband’s charm is holding us together. Something besides his behavior is driving me to demonstrate love to him in a way that would make my Heavenly Father proud. The vows I said on our wedding day mean something different today than they did on day one. On our wedding day, those words had me envisioning a life time of couples trips and family vacations (“where you go, I will go”). I also figured we may have to endure some uprooting and replanting of our lives elsewhere (“where you stay, I will stay”). I joyfully anticipated serving God publicly and hand in hand with my husband (“your God will be my God”). I was preparing myself for the times of warfare when I would have to pray and fast for whatever battle the enemy would try to wage against my husband specifically or our family as a whole. That was what those vows meant when I said them.
Today, my vows mean significantly more. Today my vows mean that even when I’m at my wits end about some of my husbands most infuriating habits, I choose love over nitpicking because love keeps no record of wrongs. It means when I am exhausted with the work of motherhood and he does not swoop in to help, I remind myself that he is not a mind reader and I need to ask for help (“love thinks no evil”). It means that if I begin to see hopelessness rearing its head regarding some issues we have had since our first day of marriage (be they financial, emotional or spiritual) I cling ever the more to the hope we have in Christ (“love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”). When the enemy plants the thought that “I cannot take this anymore” regarding any aspect of my marriage, the part of my love for my spouse that is suppose to endure all things MUST kick into high gear. It means that when every part of my flesh wants to cop a totally justified attitude in response to my husband’s offense against me, I yield to the Holy Spirit to win over my flesh because love does not behave rudely. My vows do not JUST mean that I do not cheat on my husband and that I seek his good before I seek my own desires, it ALSO means that I quash the temptation to disrespect him in a thousand little ways that seem meaningless but do much to chip away at our oneness. My vows mean that I choose to believe the best about my husband even when my flesh will have me conclude that he offended me on purpose. My vows mean fighting the temptation to retreat within myself but rather choosing to be emotionally naked before the man I love, ESPECIALLY during the times that my mind tries to convince me that vulnerability unequivocally leads to heartbreak. This is the standard. Because I fail does not mean that the standard changes. If I find that I have fallen flat on my face regarding anything I vowed to do within my marriage, I have to be quick to repent before God as well as my husband and once again seek the road that the word of God calls the more excellent way. I am forever grateful that there is grace and mercy available for me at every point in this journey of marriage.
There are times when my vows move me to joyful obedience in my marriage and there are other times when my obedience is a sacrifice that must be made tearfully. Disobedience is not an option because for me, there is NO WAY I can be successfully married without the help and continued work of the Holy Spirit. Check my resume, I am a mess without the grace of God working in and through me. If I harden my heart against any change that the Lord wants to make in my character, I suffer, my husband suffers and my children suffer. Disobedience to God is entirely too costly and I cannot afford the asking price.
Even though our journey has just begun, my vows mean more today after our small time of testing and “on the job training” than they ever did before. My prayer is that the God of grace grants us His abundant grace to honor the vows that we have made to Him and to those we love.
Yours in Christ,