This photo is of Evan & I, almost four years ago, on our wedding day. 20-year-old babies.
Marriage is a great and glorious mystery. It’s one of those “feel it in your bones” kind of things; a happening in life that changes every course forever, that alters our behavior, and can bring us into an even holier place with Christ. It’s not the thing in life. People don’t marry, and they still have that holier than holy place with Christ. It’s not an end-all. But for me, in this life, it has changed everything.
Anyone who knows me knows I love the man I married on April 8, 2011. They know that I love him more today than that day, and I will unconditionally love that man forever. That’s my nature, my God-given womanhood. I love like it’s my job. But it is not easy, not easy, to continually honor, lift up, adore, and respect this man. He is not dishonorable, he is highly respectable, and he deserves every drop of respect I can squeeze from my soul. But my nature isn’t wired to do that unconditionally. It’s a learned thing, something I need help doing, an area that needs to be coated in grace.
So what, Janelle? Deal with your marriage issues on your own time. Easy, tiger. I’m not here to spill the beans on our personal stuff. But I have to be real with you. Although marriage can appear so beautiful and effortless, although we seem happier than clams, although in this time of complete chaos we seem to have it all together, we don’t. We aren’t ideal. We aren’t even close to perfection. We are two messed up sinners who need more grace today than yesterday. And that means recognizing in our most trying times, we need Jesus more than ever.
I’ve studied Ephesians 5:22-33 a dozen times over the years. I’ve watched the Love & Respect series at least three times. I read through this same passage this morning feeling like this was just redundant information, stuff that is already pretty plastered into my mind. And that’s when I know I need it today more than ever; when I start feeling like it’s useless information, I know I’m missing it. I think back on the last few weeks and cringe at the useless struggles we face in marriage because we turn our backs on Christ. We lose sight of the reason for marriage, the importance and significance of doing life as a unit, and we stumble and fall like we’re newbies.
I remember a time in life, before I was married, thinking I had all of this figured out. I was certain that I was knowledgeable on married life, what it meant to respect my husband, what “being married” really meant. Today, I am no expert. I am not a “professional” wife. I just know this ring I wear on my finger represents Christ just as much as it does my marriage. Without Him, we’re just two people stumbling and falling without much direction. Today, more than any other day in our life, we need Jesus. We need Ephesians 5:22-33 to direct our marriage. Not because we’re on the brink of divorce or because we have everything figured out to a T. But because we’re sinners. We’re in need of grace. Trying times or thriving times, Jesus is always the same.