Friday, April 20, 2012


There's a study I read revealing a pretty eye-opening belief of many millennial Christians (18-29 years old). These young adults that fill the church pews on Sunday mornings believe that it is far more important to to be a good parent than to have a successful marriage.  To the tune of 22 percent.  This study was done a little over a year ago. 

 We have been deceived, my friends. We have been told many times over that our children should have first place in our lives over all else. Meanwhile marriages are suffering, growing colder than the Arctic, and eventually two-become-one turns into two glaciers slowly drifting apart. Many couples live their whole married lives carting their kids around only to wake up one day and discover the sad truth: they have forgotten to communicate with each other and laugh and cry and share life and look at old pictures and play and be silly and now they are strangers.

Our priorities as people of God are a model of upside-down logic, and I'm not taking about the good, Kingdom upside-down, either. 

We are broken people. It's true. Seth and I each came to this marriage broken, probably one more than the other, if I'm honest. We are both covered in humanity, our sinful flesh ever-presently fighting the battle to make this marriage, and this LIFE, about us. He wouldn't mind me telling you that he spoke about marriage last year and I turned every hue of red while he stood there in front of a bunch of strangers and said how incredibly HARD and rare it is to keep this mystical little covenant we call marriage. He said it was hard work.

What he didn't say, because he is a good-willed man, was that it's hard to be married to me.  I already knew that. The uncomfortable lump in my throat awkwardly testified to it.

Marriage is designed to play the role of magnifying glass, concentrating its power on every area in us that is pure self.
Painful, but bringing about a refined, polished image: one of Christ and the Church for which He gave His life.

I am not speaking any condemnation over my readers whose marriages have failed and I am certainly not speaking to anyone who is in an abusive relationship. (If you are being abused, get out.) I know our God is ready and able to redeem our hopes and dreams from a big pile of hurt and brokenness. He is ready and willing-and maybe he already has! We have a High Priest who is mercifully and thankfully able to sympathize with our weaknesses. Be encouraged today and know that I'm praying for you as I write this.

I simply sense the Spirit prompting me to encourage those of you who are still married to get reacquainted with your mate. Don't occupy yourself so fully with jobs and church mission projects and sports games and piano recitals and just plain life that you wake up when your kids are practically grown and you no longer recognize the person lying beside you. 

You don't want to forget the inside jokes that can diffuse an argument into a pile of belly laughs. Or the way your breath got tangled up in your chest the first few times you saw them. Sharing tears over disappointments and smiles over the kids' antics. The way they, like Jesus, have held you so tightly when you felt like unraveling.

Maybe it's hard to remember why you started loving this person. He seems so cold and distant. She seems so unappreciative of the daily cost of provision for the family.
Could God give you a new heart and a new spirit
Could He pour out grace into your lack of energy or desire?

Could God breathe new life into your marriage this very night?

I have some widowed friends who read this blog and they'd give anything to have that back. Do them a favor...don't miss the joy and the stress and the ups and downs of loving another to Jesus.

Can I be straight-up with you like Paula Abdul was with us back in '88?

(whew, it's getting way serious up in here...felt the need to give you an '80s reference just to get you to stay with me til the end.)

I wholeheartedly disagree with my peers who took that survey.

Next to my relationship with Jesus, my highest-priority relationship is the one I have with Seth. I have forsaken all others to covenant with him. I do my family a great service when I treat my husband with honor and respect in our home and when we are unapologetic about continuing to date each other to keep the home fires burning.

After all, this covenant is a mere shadow of the one we have with our Father, and our broken world needs to see that there is a Love that changes us and makes us hold on when everything tells us to let go.

I want to be a good parent, people. I really do. It is a great desire of mine. My children are affected by my priorities every moment of the day. As we put our relationship with each other first, they benefit from a life with less daily strife and more laughter and joy emanating from the four walls of our parsonage. Our desire is for them to feel secure about the state of our union, so to speak. Is it always easy? No way. Do we see glimpses of The Glory in the middle of the mundane? Yes!

Pouring into my husband and encouraging open lines of communication, fighting fair, and spending time in God's Word and in prayer for and with each other are ways we actively love our family by relying on Christ to keep it together.

Hear this truth clearly:
The best thing Seth and I can do for our kids is to love each other. 
It's uncommon and perhaps controversial in some ways because of its rarity.

This afternoon, Seth's folks renewed their vows to celebrate 40 years of forsaking all others. It was an honor to watch them once again dedicate their lives to revealing Christ in and through their marriage. It reminded me of how tough it must have been for them through the years at times, losing two infant sons (what should have buried a marriage too by all statistics) and navigating the complicated waters of adoption. They were able to stand at the altar today because they made good on their commitment to put Jesus first and their spouse second and their children third. Its rare these days to see a couple order their priorities in such a counter-cultural way.

It's even more rare to have a marriage that lasts forty years. 

Seth and I are both blessed to come from long lines of rare. We know what a powerful gift rare can be. We hope to show our children the same rare commitment to covenant that we have been shown.

Here's a great link with practical ideas if you want to begin the journey back to a new heart for your spouse or simply to keep those home fires burning.


Angel said...

Hi friend!! Wish I could see you in person but since I cant I just follow your blog! Thanks for speaking the truth even when its hard! I hope all is well!