We have some exciting news in our family. My nephew is getting married and it’s just around the corner! Even better, his bride is probably one of the most beautiful souls ever created. We all adore her and I can’t believe she’d agree to be part of our crazy family. But, since he’s pretty darn incredible, that’s more likely her focus. Ha!
And, as these things go, plenty of celebrations for the happy couple are filling the calendar. This last weekend was one of her showers and it was a beautiful affair, in a lovely home, filled with even lovelier women. I just love watching brides get surrounded by love. It’s a perfect picture of how Christ’s love covers us. And, it never seems to get old.
Speaking of love, I was tapped by my lovely Sister to share a lovely devotion at the shower. Since I’d never heard one and public speaking is NOT my spiritual gift, I was a bit (or, a lot!) apprehensive. Though, still totally honored, so I got to work on my idea of a wedding devotion for Sweet Ann. Below is what came out. I pray it blessed her and I pray it blesses you, as well.
Sooooo… Two becoming one. Ahhhhh. Can’t you just hear the angels singing?? It’s all equal parts romantic, dreamy, and totally incomprehensible. The mere idea conjures up every fairy tale notion and happily-ever-after-dream we have as young girls. But, it can also bring us memories of sadness or thoughts of trepidation and fear. Yet, all who hope to be married, hope for one that will exceed our best expectations. Yep… we basically all hope for the ideal… That super-model of marriage perfection. But, like all super models, this is an illusion, because what we’re all actually searching for in marriage is the same thing we search for in life… being completely known, yet still completely loved. Knowing this should help us to remember the best place to place our hopes for the perfect marriage… on The One that began it all and loves us through it all, perfectly.
Ann, before you and Tucker were even born, this wedding day was in God’s plan. As you were being knit together in your sweet Momma’s womb and as Tucker was massively invading my poor sister’s (that monster child was 9lbs 7oz!), this union was known by The King. As you cried, crawled, tottled, giggled (a lot by the looks of photos), and then grew into the beautiful, strong, and gracious young woman you are today… and, as Tucker charmed (I’ll never forget the first day Uncle Curtis and I got to babysit him… Bray was still in my belly and we hoped he’d be half the cuteness Tucker was…) and eventually jumped head first – like literally – into everything (even pools by age 1! Who even does that!?) then enthusiastically enjoyed or, more specifically, successfully tackled, all his life offered him… This nearly-upon-us-wedding-day was already viewed by our Sovereign Creator.
Which means that the first thought of marriage in Tucker’s head (and I’m pretty certain it could’ve been there since day one) was only placed there by The Father… and this union of His two beautiful image bearers is a union of so much more. It’s a union that’s been ordained by Him to accomplish His Perfect Purpose… reflecting Christ’s Love for His Bride, The Church, to a watching world that so often wonders about Him.
Piece of cake, right?
For you two? It’s likely. Y’all make most things look easy. And yeah… I guess it was pretty easy for Uncle Curtis and I, also. [Read: It was hard as you-know-what!] By God’s Great Grace, though, in our nearly 22 years of marriage, He did show me — through friend’s marriages, of course — a few areas that, if neglected, could threaten His purpose. And, since you never know when you’ll need to encourage your own friends, I decided it’d be good to share them with you here today.
Prayer. Simply put, pray together often. I pray y’all already do. But, since I personally have no experience in that, here’s another option to tuck away (pun intended)… give your marriage to God, daily. Then pray over Tucker as you feel led. Pray over him as he sleeps. Basically, anytime you think about him, lift him up to Jesus. And, if there ever comes a time when you do not want to pray for him, pray for yourself, then pray for him anyway.
Love. This basically just equals respect for these fellows. One day you’ll hurt him and you won’t even see it coming. When that happens, listen and try and understand his reason. Make a habit of studying him. Your idea of love will not be his. Learn how he feels loved the best and do those things often. Remember his heart when you discuss him with others, whether he’s present or not. On that note, compliments are always well received, so regularly share what he does well with him and with others… especially if he’s around. You will never regret loving him the way God does, unconditionally and personally.
Communication. Listen, this is not always a well mannered, mutually edifying and spiritually stimulating discussion that occurs at regular, mutually agreed upon times. Nor, really is it ever close to that. You may even be shocked by how passionate your communication can get… not to mention the amount of ridiculous issues you can actually passionately disagree over! No… what I’m talking about here, is more like the willingness to talk about everything. The hard stuff. The dumb stuff. The money stuff. The stuff you don’t even want to think about, let alone discuss. The fears that keep you up at night. The difficult conversation you’ve been dreading. That secret you wonder if he’s been keeping. The thoughts you keep having. Your dreams, desires, hopes, wishes. The good, the bad, the ugly. Encourage and allow for the safe, open communication of it all. Remember, God can handle what you can’t, so embrace the high calling of a marriage that shatters darkness by bringing all things to light and living in His glorious grace. (This one is worth every ounce of effort it takes. And, it takes all kinds of effort!)
Anger. Because you adore each other and he has the most beautiful eyes, you might not imagine you could ever feel much anger towards Tucker. But, there may actually come a day when you don’t feel like you even like Tucker, let alone, love him. One day, you may even boil inside or feel like withholding love from him altogether. I honestly can’t picture you ever even raising your voice, but you may. You may even want to hurl a plate at him (Remember those friends I told you about? Such a sad girl she was…). Anyway, you may even question what you were ever thinking on that beautiful July day in 2018. You may call your mom and sister and friend and tell them all you’ve made a terrible mistake and it’s high time you woke up, then yell at them and ask why they never stopped you from marrying this man. You may pack a bag to leave. If that happens… or, anything that even remotely causes you to question your commitment, please remember… this too shall pass. It may take time, but it will happen. Feelings are fickle. Get some perspective and get into God’s Word, His Presence, His Creation. Go for a walk or a drive. Take some time in prayer and reflect on the good things about Tucker. (On that note, what you focus on becomes larger, so this is actually a very wise practice to learn early on and it will help protect against living in ungratefulness or unforgiveness.) Pray and repent for the sin in your own heart. Give your marriage to God. Again. Remember who the actual battle is against and pray for the Holy Spirit to work. And, then remember God’s mercies are new EVERY morning, so sticking around is usually the best idea. Cling to truth that love moves toward.* Anytime you want to withdraw, move toward and trust God to meet you there.
Now, as you move along, year after year, toward Tucker and toward love, God will be working. Molding and forming your union through beauty and pain… sometimes excruciating pain. Marriage is truly one of His greatest gifts. Sharing a life with another human you adore has too many blessings to list here, but it honestly presents its fair share of challenges. There may very well be fiery trials, torturous temptations, and desolate deserts that will make you want to give up. You may even begin to compare your marriage to others. DON’T. Even and especially when yours is in a good place. (Remember that thing about pride coming before a fall??) Simply pray continuously through every moment of it… each good, great, godly, and not so godly moment. Your marriage belongs to God, and He will battle for it, so continue to surrender it over and over and He will be faithful to bring forth the beauty He is intending.
And, if you ever must battle… battle to live in an attitude of forgiveness, always with a willingness to apologize yourself. If a time comes where this is difficult, battle to commit the matter to God until He settles it in your heart. Battle to keep real, true intimacy, because the realities of life will attempt to prevent this. When your desires ebb and flow (because they inevitably do for us all) keep battling in prayer and trust God to reunite and reignite. Battle to keep the proper order of things, so life gets ordered aright… God, Tucker, Kids, everything else. And, because this one can creep up on you in the blink of an eye, battle to live in an attitude of repentance, trusting God is always willing to help you reorder. Battle hard to hold onto love, because it covers over a multitude of sins. And finally, battle to live out God’s perfect purpose for your marriage. Fulfillment is not it. Happiness will never be it. Neither, your wholeness. Holiness, is. Glorifying God, is. Showing the love Christ has for His Bride, is. Imaging a covenental love based on a true commitment to your Heavenly Father, is. Letting the world see that love chosen and unconditional is the only thing that lasts in the long run, is.
And, since we know God uses marriage to show his idea of love to others, we really need to know all about this love for ourselves. But, what’s even better than knowing about this true love, is knowing WHO True Love is – better and better – every day.
See, Ann… KNOWING Who, in ever increasing measure, will make loving one — for a lifetime — something to truly treasure. Knowing The Who that loves you to full measure will make the WHY you love Tucker all the better. You love because Jesus first loved you. You love because you know — in the end — His love is the only thing that remains. And, you love to share and glorify His Great Name. And, when you order knowing HIM above all else, you remember the best place to place your hope for your marriage — or, on everything else that ever matters — is on The One who was before all things, lives in all things, and holds all things together.
So simply keep seeking more of Jesus. Seek moments in His Presence and treasures in His Word. Seek to continue to know in full measure the width, length, height, and depth of his love for you. And, always know this… when you mess up or don’t live up or give up on any of these points, HE is still faithful, so seek to find rest in His glorious grace.
Ann, may your marriage to Tucker always surprise you, delight you, stretch you, expose you, and excite you. May your marriage always shine a beautiful light on Him and His perfect, true love. May you both always move towards each other and not away. May you have spiritual eyes to see any and all threats to your union. And, regardless of the season, may your marriage always glorify and honor God’s Great and Holy Name.
God bless you both on this beautiful journey. All my love ❤
* Paul Miller, Love Walked Among Us