My son, Levi, got married this past Saturday. I remember Amanda, the girl he married, as a little six year old dynamo with attitude. She's now a beautiful young lady, and she's stolen his heart.
I remember wondering, all those years ago at the soccer pitch, which of those little girls might someday become my daughter-in-law. My son made a wise choice. As Proverbs 18:22 says, "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord."
Many times over the past 23 years or so I prayed for the girl my son would choose, long before he or I had any idea who that might be. I did that because I believe that prayer is effective, and there are very few decisions in life that have the potential impact on your life as the person you choose as a life partner.
It's amazing how time flies. This week we've been taking my wife's mother on a tour of the area and our old haunts. We talked about our first few months of marriage - this September will mark 30 years - and, in retrospect, it's amazing we survived.
We did almost everything wrong. We got married young: I was 19; she had just turned 20. We moved into my parent's basement. We didn't have good jobs. I was Canadian; she was American. I moved her all the way from Tennessee to the cold of Canada. The list could go on and on. Yet, here we are, all these years later, still in love and still together. How does that happen?
Looking back, here are the truths that rise to the surface.
God is Faithful
One thing we both shared was an absolute confidence that God would take care of us. We trusted Him and He didn't let us down. I remember, in our first year of marriage, when we had both been laid off and our unemployment insurance hadn't started. We were down to our last potato - literally - and we prayed that God would provide. We went to church (it was Sunday) and, by the time we came out, someone had filled our back seat with groceries.
Over and over again, just when it looked like there was no way out, God opened another door and provided a way. When Levi was just a toddler, he came down with a disease we'd never heard of before: Kawasaki's. Our doctor had not seen it either and thought that it was Scarlet Fever. By the time he was diagnosed, Levi was almost comatose and not certain to survive. People everywhere were praying, special treatment was given, and after a week in Sick Kids Hospital he was able to come home. It was years before the doctors gave him a clean bill of health. You think of things like this on your child's wedding day. God is faithful.
Loving is a choice
Part of the problem with Hollywood's version of love is that it's based on emotion, and emotions change. The Bible teaches that love is a choice. God commands us to love each other. He doesn't say to love only when you feel like it. I remember listening to a wonderful speaker by the name of Elva Howard many years ago. She said, "While you may not always have red-hot passion in your marriage, you should always have red-hot commitment." This was great advice for the ebb and flow of marriage.
I tell people that we've been married for almost 30 years; 23 of them happy. There have been some rough spots. There have been times when I wasn't sure that we would make it, to be quite honest. We all carry baggage with us into marriage, and we had (have) our share. But we hung in there, learning how to communicate better, how to understand each other, and carrying one another when necessary. When all else fails we choose to love.
Forgiveness is a necessity
As perfect as you may think your bride or husband may be as you stand at the marriage altar, there is one thing you can be sure of: they will let you down. Whether deliberately or by accident they will hurt you. They will not meet your expectations, they will disappoint you, and sometimes they will even fail miserably. It is at these moments when a relationship is tested.
We can forgive when we are honest enough to admit to ourselves that we aren't perfect either. For me, I know that I am a great sinner and Jesus is a great Savior. When I think of the forgiveness I've received, how can I not forgive the one I pledged to love forever if she asks? - and even if she doesn't. As someone said: "Those who can't forgive, burn the
which they themselves must pass."
I'm so glad that I didn't surrender to my desire, at times, to run away as fast as I could. I'm just as glad that, for whatever reason, my wife chose to stay with me when I know it was tempting to walk away. As I watched my son, this weekend, pledge himself to Amanda for the rest of his life, I couldn't help but think that yes, it's worth it.
I hope and pray that my children don't repeat my mistakes, they certainly don't need to. I'll gladly share what I've learned the hard way if they ask. But I also pray that they always look to God who's faithful; that they choose to love, especially when it's difficult, and that they forgive from the heart. God will bless a marriage like that.
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