Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Marriage? Yes, Thank You.

This is another post in my series on giving thanks.  scan0004Today, I’m thankful for my marriage.

Before I write about my marriage, I must remark that I am also thankful for the marriages God saved me from.  I was engaged twice before I met my husband, mostly because I am loyal to a fault.  Thanks be to God who rescues us even from our faults!  I shudder to think of what might have happened after the wedding if I had married someone other than my husband:  who I might have become, and what I would have accomplished in life. 

My husband has given me respect and the freedom to explore my passions and needs.  Even though he doesn’t understand why I need them, he has given me funds and freedom to fill our home with art and books.  He has made space in our lives so that I can hike when I need solitude, or stay in the car when he goes into a busy store or restaurant, and he has limited the gatherings we host to maintain my energy level.  He has even entered into some of my projects, urging me on when I felt my energy flag, reminding me to take my time, pointing out the small achievable tasks when the big picture overwhelms me. 

Those two broken engagements were difficult times and I cry out to God to help suffering people.  Two people I know are wading through the mire of a broken engagement; two, a broken marriage.  I don’t have the answers for any of them.  I searched for answers when my engagements broke, but there weren’t any.  All I can do is pray for their hearts to heal and become whole.  I pray for them to lean on the Father who will not disappoint.  I pray for their courage to step forward to greet each day, to continue in life with the other absent.  I pray that they would seek and find the desires of their hearts.

A girl’s wedding is the dream and desire of her girlish heart.  I spent many hours dreaming and planning my perfect wedding in an outdoor bower framed by leafy branches.  I dreamed of the man I would marry and evaluated each potential suitor.  I don’t know that I planned any farther than that. 

But dreams are not the stuff of life.  Instead, of my branchy bower, I was married in a church under a canopy of daisies.   I wore a daisy in my hair.  Our wedding in some ways was a comedy (tragedy?) of errors.  I don’t need to go into detail about how my musician’s mother died and I enlisted two guests for music, or how I was rushing around beforehand setting up my own sound system.   I could go on, but you know what?  It didn’t matter.  All that matters came after.

After is when you work out how to live with another person who is like you but not like you in so many ways.  After is when the compromises start,  preceded by arguments as two strong wills vie for first place.  After is when those wills make a choice, a daily, hourly sometimes a choice every second about what matters: getting our own way or loving our spouse.

I am thankful that for us, love won.  It won because we loved God and practiced submitting ourselves to Him before we submitted ourselves to each other.  It won because I learned to ask myself, “is it sin?” and if the answer was “no” I kept quiet.  It won because we learned to watch and imitate, however feebly, the good godliness that we saw in each other.  And today when I look at the man I love and married, I would not trade him for any other. 

So, here are the three true affirmations for which I give thanks today:

  1. God takes broken relationships and heals them.  I know.  God takes good relationships and makes them better.  I know that, too. 
  2. God cares about us even in our pain.  In our pain, he comes and gives us grace and new insight. 
  3. God provides. This is the hymn of thanksgiving that I remember from my youth.  (It was written in 1597 in Dutch, later translated to German, and from German to English in the 19th Century.)

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to His name: He forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side, All glory be thine!

Here are two different renditions:


Who are you thankful for today?  Take time to tell them!



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