Jack and I celebrate a whole decade of marriage today. 10 years ago, we said, “I do” surrounded by people who love us, celebrated at a reception full of desserts, and then drove away in Jack’s truck that was covered in sticky notes. We both knew marriage was a gift and the seriousness of it. However, neither of us had any idea what the Lord had in store.
By God’s grace, we’ve learned a lot in these 10 years, especially this past year, as we’ve endured one of our toughest. To make a long story short, Jack had a steroid shot in October, which led to a domino effect of various symptoms/side effects, ultimately causing him to battle anxiety. If you know Jack, you know he’s never been an anxious person. In fact, the Lord has used him to teach me not to worry so much and help my type A personality chill a little. These past 9 months or so have been harder on us than I can truly put into words, but as we’ve weathered this storm together, God’s been faithful to us and our marriage.
The Lord reminded me that those vows we made really do matter. “For better or for worse,” and “In sickness and in health,” aren’t just empty words we repeat on our wedding day (at least they shouldn’t be). They’re promises we make to one another before God, and as we do more life together as husband and wife, they’re true realities we’ll be called to live out. This season has held a lot of “for worse” days, and they’ve been hard, so hard. I’m the first to tell you – I haven’t handled them perfectly. However, it’s in this tough season where Jack and I have clung to one another and ultimately, to the Lord. Our world downplays and devalues marriage. It’s seen as something that should either be put off or not taken seriously once entered into. Now, marriage isn’t the end-all-be-all of life/the Christian life. Singleness is a beautiful gift from the Lord, just as marriage is! But for those called to marriage, don’t shy away from it just because there will be difficult days. The difficult days are what draw you closer to one another and ultimately the Lord. They’re the days that strengthen you, because you’ve endured them together. They’re the days that make the ordinary days precious, and the extraordinary days so, so sweet.
The difficult days remind us we’re in a battle, a spiritual one. Marriage is God-ordained, and his design for it is to be an earthly representation of the Gospel (go check out Ephesians 5:22-33). Since a marriage that honors God is such a God-glorifying thing, guess who doesn’t want to see such marriages succeed? Satan. He absolutely hates marriage as God designed it, which is why he attempts to tear it down in every way possible in our culture. This is seen not only in public policies and high divorce rates, but also within the walls of our own homes. In this storm, I’ve seen how easy it could be for Jack and I to turn against one another, instead of pulling together. Satan wants trials in our marriages to put a wedge between us and our spouse. Spiritual warfare is a very real thing, but as believers, we don’t despair. The Lord is on our side, and he’s far more powerful than Satan. God is for us and our marriages, so with determined hearts, we keep battling for God’s glory. I won’t allow Satan to have my marriage or me. How do we battle? Ephesians 6:17 tells us the Bible is our sword. That’s an offensive weapon, so we daily read God’s Word, memorize it, and meditate on it. Jack and I both have countless stories of how God’s Word has been a weapon to ease anxiety in this season. We also do battle through prayer, both together and individually. Last but not least, we do battle in and alongside our local church/brothers and sisters in Christ. Often, in seasons of difficulty, Satan tries to isolate us, making us feel like we’re the only one going through something, so we never speak up about our struggle. However, Jack and I have found much strength by opening up and allowing our brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside us. They’ve prayed for us, encouraged us, offered their fellowship, given us godly wisdom, and more. Whether you’re married or not, the local church should be a key priority in your life. Trust me, you’ll want these believers surrounding you in seasons of trial.
To my single friends called to marriage, who you marry matters deeply. The longer we’re married, the more sure of that I am. Though romantic date nights and weekend getaways are fun, they’re not what marriage is all about. Yes, marry the person you enjoy such things with, but also be sure that person is someone you can envision enduring seasons of trial alongside. Marry someone who will prioritize the local church with you and encourage you in your walk with Christ. To my married friends, keep pursuing Christ and each other. Yes, there are difficult days, but it’s beautiful too. Your spouse is a gift from the Lord, so treat them as such. Remember, marriage should be a reflection of the Gospel, so strive to shine a light for Christ as husband and wife.
We aren’t celebrating our 10 year anniversary with rainbows and butterflies, but we’re celebrating it with an even better mindset, I believe. We’re celebrating it as a husband and wife who have endured storms together, and are coming out of them together. We’re celebrating it after seeing one another in our worst moments, yet loving each other even more deeply. We’re celebrating as a couple who have wrestled with the Lord, yet we keep encouraging one another to constantly pursue and believe Truth. We’re 10 years in, and we aren’t perfect. We never will be, but we love each other in a far deeper way than we did a decade ago. That’s the beauty of doing this life- the ups, downs, and normal days- side by side. Praise God for his faithfulness these last 10 years! It’s all by his grace and for his glory. We trust God is using this season of trial for our good and for his glory (Rom. 8:28). We’re excited for a lifetime of years together, side by side, all for the glory of God!