I didn’t plan my wedding, didn’t pick out our square cake, or choose my hand-me-down dress borrowed from some divorced bride we were acquainted with.
I simply said, “I do”, nauseated in my stomach. All I could think about was the secret tucked under my size five dress.
After our wedding day (the one where it poured down rain), we tried playing, “happily ever after”.
We had a beautiful son six-months later, yet were still children ourselves; looking for perfection in the other, wholeness from our relationship, the happiness promised to us from the Big Screen and TV.
And although God did do a miracle; redeeming, healing, and restoring our relationship through a God we hadn’t previously been serving; we still needed a marriage make-over that didn’t come until starting ministry, one full decade later.
All attempts at happiness, self-satisfaction, fixing the other person, or passively sitting back waiting for things to change, never healed our marriage.
What we learned along the way was, the foundation of any solid marriage isn’t about us anyway.
Concrete relationships are centered on Jesus, living the gospel intentionally, and actively pursuing a missional life together with laser fixed focus on one common purpose.
In our experience, marriages don’t fail because we are missing some “tools in our toolbox”, but more commonly because one or both people in the relationship are selfish.
True health and healing comes from letting God be the foundation of our souls, focusing on our own relationship with Him while collectively gathering as one, completely the mission he has for us, as a team…together.
I wish I would have known prior; spouses are not enemies, the wars we face are never against each other, the betterment of our lives isn’t found in some “12 simple steps to a happier marriage”.
Real hope and fulfillment comes through weakness, giving up our wills and surrendering our future and whole person to Jesus.
Francis and Lisa Chan have an excellent new resource we have been studying in our small group lately. Their book, “You and Me Forever” offers incredible insight into marriage, our relationship with God, and ministry.
Their book uses Christ as our example; one who came to die to His rights, giving up His will, and laying down His life to serve for the sake of His mission here on earth.
But I wonder, do we get it backwards; fighting for our rights, asserting our wills, claiming the right to our life while forsaking our mission here on earth…all because we don’t want to serve one another?
It took my husband and me ten years to stop waiting to be perfect before really serving the world around us. Nearly twenty-three years later, we have taught extensively, are ministering in foster care and adoption, and lead small groups with young people we can so relate to.
And we have witnessed, true miracles happen when we take our eyes off ourselves and place them on our mission, led by the God who heals our broken souls.
Are you struggling in your marriage? Do you fail to see how God can redeem what’s been bruised, taken advantage of, or broken? Will you join me in turning to The One who offers us His covenant, unconditional love, sealing us for eternity? Will you offer all your relationships to The One who found us when we were wretched, taking our rags and clothing us in His righteousness?
Friends, let’s fix your eyes on Him, living missional-minded and focused, trusting Him with our spouses, forgiving like He has forgiven us.
He is our model for sacrificial love, laying down His life while we were yet flawed. Will we trust the hope and healing that comes from looking to the only one that can truly give us…
A mission focused, marriage make-over?
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
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