Friday, January 25, 2008

My thoughts on the marriage relationship.....

For years the church I attended seemed to value the marriage relationship very highly....which initially seemed great!!! Who doesn't want to have a greater marriage in all areas.....?
Over time, we heard alot of the same "high standards" for our marriages, respect, submission, communication, parenting, date nights, intimacy, encouraging one another...and a whole other host of subject was exhausted enough......the more we heard about how to have a godly marriage the higher the bar got and the more we fell short and failed and held each other responsible for not getting their part right.....
It seems to me the marriage relationship was elevated above our individual relationship with the Lord....we were taught about that too, but in a "need to" spend time with God way....It's almost like a formula for success in marriage was being painted over and I focused on my marriage more than God.....I felt like a failure because my marriage looked nothing like the results the formula were supposed to create......I kept crying out to God to restore my marriage and allow it to be fruitful and a blessing....but the more books I read about "how to walk out my specific role" in marriage, the more messages, meetings and accountability sessions with other women the more I felt desperate and like I would NEVER get it right!!! 
I noticed that at every wedding I went to within the church the same scriptures were read, almost everyone wrote their own vows and they all sounded the same as the last wedding I had been at. Why is that? Finally this summer I went to a wedding not in my same church but the same family of churches and lo and behold, same scriptures, same type of message, same type of vows.....! I was so frustrated and honestly, angry. Why do we turn our marriages into duty into seperate roles and our part.....what good is it doing? Now I don't say this to be unkind or uncharitable to anyone who chose to have this way of a wedding ceremony, I myself had one just like it! It was just the way it was done! But I really thought, "Lord why is this bothering me so much...I honestly don't want to rebel against You, but this can't be all there is...." I want to be loved for ME, not how well I perform in my role as a wife!!
I began to contemplate how much we were taught that the marriage relationship is a meant to be a picture of Christ and the church, and that unbelievers would see a Gospel message through our marriages....and today it dawned on me....they emphasize the marriage so much because they so desperately want to BE that picture......of Christ and His church!!! The problem is they have it all backwards....trying to have an excellent marriage and fulfill the Ephesians 5 passage by walking out each aspect and striving to have their marriages "look" this way.....but you see what I have come to realize is that, that completely defeats the whole point I believe God would have us that I have come to an understanding of Grace, I want to first and foremost know my God, I have fallen in love with Him because of grace and I want my life to portray the Ephesians picture, but it's not me doing my role well, it's me resting in God, allowing His very life to flow through me, as me...the more I marvel at His Awesome gifts, His Grace, His abounding love for me, the more I have a heart of love, compassion, acceptance for others....I no longer focus on a right way of "doing" marriage....I don't have to, it just happens!!!! Woohoo!!! We are growing rapidly in ways I only dreamed of all these years, I can't believe it!! I love God, I love my husband, truly truly. Does this mean we have it all figured out? Does this mean we look a certain way? Does this mean we don't still argue or fight? Or mess up? NO! But our hearts are tender to each other, we have a ton more respect for who each other is, because we know who we are in Christ - we know about God's wonderful thoughts about us!!! We are still a mess in alot of ways, but we don't hold things over each other or against each we long for more intimacy with our God, and experience just naturally overflows into our marriage relationship!!!! This is a HUGE miracle! A bondage lifted and freedom granted!! Praise be to God - He is so faithful, He is so GOOD to us, he NEVER leaves us or forsakes us!!! He longs to give us wonderful gifts, our marriage being one he wants to bless us with!!! (no marriage is not only for our santicfication! After all he gave Adam and Eve each other before there was any sin in the world! ) I believe our marriages are meant to be grace and blessing and joy to us, and yes we can learn and grow too!!! 
So is marriage hard work? I suppose that would depend on how you view God and how He thinks of you......marriage can be hard for sure, but should it feel like hard work...???
It's all about God, He wants to be known for His Grace and Glory, He wants to lavish us with His love, just because He does, He is Love, so He LOVES to love us....experiencing this in a real way, knowing this, not just in my head but in my heart has made me to revel in HIM!!! Our marriage can look like that picture of Christ and His bride, because He is the most Amazing Bridegroom -and naturally we will respond with our hearts full of passion for HIM!!!! 


Anonymous said...

very well said. I couldn't agree more with how you have communicated how the grace of God paves the marriage relationship...Resting in Him as He lives His live in us, through us, as us is the only way we can love as He as called us to love. And the more I think about it, it goes for all other types of relationships as relationships, friendships, parent-child and so on...
I am learning that this is also the only way to walk in forgiveness toward others...
Thanks be to our Great God for His Loving Kindness!

Anonymous said...

Lydia, there is too much great stuff here that I don't know where to begin commenting, but I'll just say you've hit a gold mine here! :)

I do believe you are so very correct when you say that the church has it backwards. The church is trying to get married people to do a bunch of stuff (even "good" stuff), thinking this will make us more Christlike and in the end will make the church shine for Jesus.

I understand where they're coming from, but I also understand why a person stranded in the ocean would end up drinking the water to keep from being thirsty. The logic sound right, but yet the high salt content leads to dehydration!

And so I believe you've hit the nail on the head when you say that the church has it backwards. We must first understand and grow in God's love for us and fall in love with Him, which will bear the fruit of love and godliness and Christlikeness.

I went through much of what you've gone through. Even after having begun to understand grace, and preaching it and teaching it, I was essentially not living by it in my marriage. We're simply surrounded by SO MUCH marriage talk that is based upon methods and principles, that it's hard to escape it! But I had a huge wake up call 3 1/2 years ago in which it hit me, in an INSTANT, that my problems with having a great marriage were due to the fact that I was trying to have a great marriage!

I was trying so hard, and I could not understand why it wasn't working like I thought it should! Like you, I cried out to God. I prayed and prayed and prayed that I would be the husband that she needed. The more I prayed, the more I felt like a failure for not living up to it.

Long story short, I gave up on trying to have a great marriage! I didn't give up on my marriage. Just on trying so hard to make it work. I took a step back, took a breath, and proceeded to just "be." The husband that my wife needs is a husband who "is" who God created him to be. As I rest in Christ and let His life be my life (which it really is), then I will grow and I will be who I am. I can't be what I'm not. So I must be who I am. And my wife must be who she is. And we must let each other be who each other is!

We won't win the award for the world's greatest marriage, but our marriage is growing in the way that it should because we're allowing each other to "be," rather than trying to get ourselves and each other to conform to some standard.

Anonymous said...

There's so much more going around my mind right now than I have time to share, but I just wanted to add one thing.

In the church today, even in cases in which this isn't even what's intended, marriage is viewed more as a project - something you "work on" - rather than being viewed as an already-blessed union that you live out of and grow in as you simply abide in Christ.

They would have uou "work on" your marriage through following various rules and principles. The thing is, some people are "better" at living according to these things, and it may seem that they have the ideal marriage. So other Christians try to emulate what they see in these "good marriages," but end up failing because their flesh is wired differently. Which just goes to show that most or all of this stuff is based upon walking according to the flesh! Positive flesh is still "flesh."

And so to me the answer comes back to what raisn7 said... resting in Him as He lives His life in us and through us. :)

lydia joy said...

Wow, great comments here..thanks! Joel I loved your analogy about drinking ocean water...that made me chuckle!

Anonymous said...

great illustration about the ocean water...drinking what looks like the thing we need will end up being the very thing that will harm us. If the salt water represents church with religious practices, programs and how to's then we ware in some serious trouble...

I thank God for his grace! We can rest in Him and BE who He created us to be as He lives His life out through us. That's good THE good news! :)

Lydia- thanks for the blog! great stuff!

Carin said...

Adam and Eve were given to eachother before sin - wow! I had never thought of that before and shall probably be pondering it all day! How I praise God for His goodness to us in bringing His heart to us as we cry out to Him!