In the beginning, I had pretty sure thoughts on what a Christian marriage should look like. He would be strong and kind. Tall and handsome. (That part wasn’t necessary but surely, it’s what God wanted for me.) He would lead me daily in prayer time, and we’d hold hands and sip coffee and study God’s word together. He would be a youth pastor, most likely, and I’d lead drama and music in our church, and together we’d have lots of babies and raise them to love Jesus. And all the while, he’d be a man who was “wild at heart,” and pursue me diligently, and romance me regularly. He’d gently lead me beside the still waters of fairy-tale-love and when needed, be outspoken with me and others about truth and justice. He’d take care of all my physical needs and make me laugh and melt simultaneously.
The real-life story just didn’t look exactly like the fairy-tale. His style of “leadership” didn’t match the pictures in my imaginary world. He sometimes got frustrated with me when I said too much or not enough or his words had been held inside too long and our combined sin had caused rottenness somewhere or other. He romanced me sometimes, and he made me laugh often, but there were days and months and even years where laughter was scarce and neither of us felt particularly “smitten.” Babies came and prayer happened and in between the beauty there was messy. But one thing did happen – he stayed.
It’s interesting how the Artist paints a better work of art than we can imagine. How the colors he swoops across the canvas of our lives glows with golden light that is more pronounced because of the depth of the shadows. Twenty-one years in, I’m still learning to wait on my one who is more contemplative. To be brave and reach out when instead, I want him to first reach in. Sometimes he does. But sometimes, he needs me to be the helpmeet I was created to be, and to forget the romantic notions that aren’t really romance, but self-focus, and melt into the real that IS romance. To stop dreaming of what others tell me love is, and to listen to what my Papa says it is… because He says it in the real moments. He says it loud and clear by being my true fulfillment when a person isn’t enough. By bringing me joy through the created, but ultimately BEING my joy in Himself. And often, he shows me what love is, through the man who has stayed.
Some mornings, we make each other tea. Others, we roll grudgingly out of bed because one or the other of us stayed up too late. Some days, we flirt and send married-people-messages and kiss in the kitchen. Others, we forget to have a real conversation and let the moments fly by unheralded. Sometimes, we look like the perfect Christian couple in the perfect Christian marriage. Others (well, most), we look like two broken people, in desperate need of ongoing grace, thankful for certain redemption, learning day and year how to love… really love. Mostly, though, I think we are a reflection of our Papa in one tiny way every moment we choose to stay.
Are you married? Contentedly single or longing for more, whatever state you’re in? How has God used longing, or faithfulness, to teach you more of Himself?