Chuck and I just attended a marriage conference called “The Art of Marriage”. We were encouraged to put down some of our thoughts on marriage and legacy for future generations. I teared up as I realized that my life with Chuck really is all I ever wanted. So many people become disappointed and disoriented with marriage and parenting because it’s not what they imagined, but God has been so gracious to fulfill my dreams. Maybe that’s because I didn’t have any illusions about what raising a family would be. It’s certainly not because our marriage (life) is perfect. We have had our share of problems and heartaches. Chuck was married before, and has a child from that marriage. There have been more issues to overcome in that one situation than I have paper to write on. We have a medically fragile, mentally handicapped daughter who will require constant care for the rest of her life. Chuck and I have both dealt with difficult work situations and disappointments, and at times there have been money issues. Add to that the normal stressors of disciplining children, running a household, extended family relationships, disagreements and trying to loose weight! It’s far from perfect, but it’s my ideal because marriage was created by God to bring glory to Himself – not to make me or Chuck happy. Our culture has adopted an “anything goes” mentality toward relationships because we have decided that the chief purpose of relationships – including marriage – is to make ourselves happy. But God’s design for marriage is far bigger than that. Eph. 5:31-32 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Marriage is meant to be a picture of our Savior’s relationship with His chosen people. When I sacrifice my wants and needs (so hard to do) for Chuck’s sake, I see a tiny glimpse of the sacrifice Christ made for me. When I submit to Chuck’s authority, I submit to Jesus. When I love Chuck as unconditionally as a sinful person can, I understand a little better the love Jesus has for us. Duet. 31:8 says, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” If Jesus doesn’t leave, how can I? Something close to 85% of unions that produce a special needs child end in divorce. I don’t want to be that statistic! My marriage has love and blessings, romance and butterflies, agreement and admiration – but not 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. It’s in those off/ hard times that I have to remember that we two became one flesh. A wedding does not tie two shoe laces together that can be untangled. A wedding (committment) melts two metals together. There is no separating that!
I know that all I’ve just written constitutes a run-on paragraph, so I’ll sum up. My most heart-felt prayer for future generations is that you would love God above all else and strive to bring Him glory. If God chooses to display His glory through a marriage relationship for you, I pray that you would cherish it as the precious gift of God that it is and that you would cling to your spouse as if two metals melted together. The blessings and joy that come from a marriage done God’s way are immeasurable. I love and respect Chuck more today than I did 13 and a half years ago when we married. Not because he’s good. Not because I’m good. But because we both decided long ago to do our best to follow hard after God’s kingdom – and that no matter what this fallen world throws at us – we’ll do it together.