My husband Johnny and I started dating 6 years ago. It’s wild to think about that; it feels both like we’ve known each other forever, so much longer, and like we started dating yesterday.
What I can say is that being married to Johnny is the second greatest gift God has ever given me, next to salvation and life with Jesus, of course. My best friend is always here, to laugh, cry, and pray with. And truly I have loved him only more deeply and truly every day since we met.
It’s now been 2 years since we stood across from each other and said “I Do” to life together no matter what, to love each other unconditionally, for rich or for poor, in sickness and in health, until death parts us. And that is amazing to me, too. We were extremely blessed to have our wedding in January 2020, just two months before the world would shut down…and not really open back up.
I’ve learned, as you might imagine, A LOT in the past two years. Done right, we all learn during marriage, and we take the learning and allow Jesus to transform us more into His likeness.
I’ve learned a lot more than the list I’m going to go through today. But I thought I would share just some of what the first two years of marriage has shown and taught me, perhaps for the just-married, single and wanting to be married, 50-years married, never married, and everyone in between.
- We are not two, but one. “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6). In our culture, we don’t often stop to think about this, let alone acknowledge it in our daily lives, but it is a fact; in marriage, husband and wife become ONE. This is why sex is such a sacred act; it is the consummating of that marital fact, a soul tie, a joining of two souls. In God’s eyes, Johnny and I are completely one unit, never separate in our lives. That’s why where he is, a part of me is there, and vice versa. Knowing this, I know that in all aspects of my life, I represent not just myself, but Johnny. And this is a beautiful fact. Christ helps me to do it well. As one flesh, with the Holy Spirit in us, we are “a cord of three strands, not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Johnny and I are stronger together than apart, and the Holy Spirit strengthens our union. If one of us is down or struggling, the other is there to encourage and build up. As long as we both depend on the Holy Spirit’s strength and not our own, and acknowledge His place in our cord, we will not break.
- We are not perfect. I mean, I knew, of course, that neither of us were even close to perfect. But living together in marriage, you walk through each other imperfections together and point each other back to repentance and to Christ. You point each other to His grace and mercy – ultimately back to His arms and to right relationship with Him. I think a lot of people in marriage start to see their partner’s imperfections up close for the first time and think that they are reasons to run in the opposite direction. But, Biblically, only adultery and abuse are merited reasons for divorce. The main thing I’ve struggled with in marriage is my own imperfections. Sometimes, I think back to when we were dating and Johnny did “fully know this part of me/struggle”.
But that time…was a less fully known and less fully loved time. Johnny is called to love me like Christ loves the Church. And the Church is called to be spotless. But, if I sin or struggle or make a mistake, Jesus doesn’t condemn me or shame me or run the other direction. He unconditionally holds out His hand and welcomes me back into His arms and tells me He loves me. He calls me back to my walk with Him. I am blessed that my Johnny responds in the same way to my sin and struggles, while not wanting to leave me in them and always wanting to see me overcome them through Christ. And I treat him the same.
3. The joy of the Lord is my strength. This word from Nehemiah 8:10 has been one of my favourites and one God has made very real in my life in the past while. It is such a powerful Truth. What do we think of when we think of strength? Often we think of bodybuilders: people who can lift a lot of weight and have visible muscles. Maybe we think of superheroes or athletes.
“Nehemiah 8 describes the ceremony dedicating the new Temple in Jerusalem. Ezra, the scribe who maintained the official copies of God’s law, gathered an assembly of all the people and read the entire law aloud. The other priests were teaching the people and explaining the meaning of the text as they went so that everyone could understand (Nehemiah 8:1-8). Now that the work had been completed, he knew that the people should rejoice and thank God for his mighty protection and provision. But instead, the people were mourning and weeping because they realized they had lived without the Law for so long while they were in exile (Nehemiah 8:9)” (ConnectUS). Nehemiah encouraged the people, saying they didn’t need to cry or mourn any longer. The joy of the Lord could be their strength.
If that were true then, before Jesus’s time, before the Holy Spirit…how much more true is it for us, now? How amazing is that we actually have the Spirit of the Lord dwelling in us for those of us who have given our lives to Him and received Him, and that the Word says it’s His JOY that is our strength?
Jesus ALWAYS has reason to be joyful. And so, we do, too. In struggling times and good times alike, no matter what circumstance, we always have reason to be joyful. So, in the mundane and majesty, I lean on Jesus’ joy and not my own.
4. Marriage is so much fun. Johnny and I have both always had a bone to pick with the statement “Marriage is hard”. Like, let’s not just put this assumption over the entirety of marriage like it’s going to be hard. I know that, for some couples, being married is hard. I’m not discounting that or saying their experience is wrong. But I will say that my experience is different. I wouldn’t call “being married” hard at all. In fact, my time before being married was much, much harder, because I had it all to do on my own. Done right, marriage can be incredible; you have this selfless, life-giving support always there to help you, point you back to Jesus, pray with you, laugh with…marriage, in fact, is so much FUN. Being married to my best friend and getting to do everything with him is absolutely so much fun. It’s a never-ending sleepover with my best friend. And every day is genuinely magical.
5. Marriage is refining. As much as it’s not hard and it is very fun, marriage is refining, and I am so grateful for this. We’re called, as wives, to “submit to our own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24). What a good practice this is in daily life to submit and surrender our lives to our husbands and to Christ! For an important discussion on what submitting here does and doesn’t mean, check out my blog post on being a godly wife.
And the call on husbands is to “love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:25-28). For both husbands and wives, these are refining practices that ultimately make us more like Christ in our love and sacrifice. As we TRULY love, and not with the lusts of the flesh and not with the fickleness of the heart, but with the firm, unwavering love of the Holy Spirit, we are dying to self and allowing Jesus to step in and love our spouses the way they ought to be loved. This is enough to smoke out the sin in us, leading us to repentance and return to the Lord.
And now, I’m excited for Year Three of marriage. I’m excited to be immersed in another year of whatever the Lord has in store with my husband, facing it all together, and so much better together. Thank you, Jesus!