7 years. No fairytale.
We are celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary in a couple days. It's hard to believe it's been 7 years. Before I met Paul and got married, I must admit, I believed that once I met and married the man of my dreams--whoever he might be-- life would be different. Of course, I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I thought it would be better. As we were dating and engaged, I planned the wedding, expecting some magnificent change to take place after we said our vows. It never fully clicked for me that I, a selfish sinner, was marrying another selfish sinner. The union of two selfishly sinful people doesn’t create a fairytale, happily ever after story. In a way that no other relationship has, my marriage has exposed my sin, self absorption, pride, and shortcomings. Without the gospel, this would be an utterly hopeless, completely discouraging realization. During the first years of our marriage, I resolved to do better-- to be a better wife, to be more patient, to communicate better and love more selflessly. I read more books, created better systems for communicating and tried to be a good wife. All of this effort left me with even more bad news. I couldn't produce any real, lasting change. I felt like a failure. I wasn't a good wife and all of my effort to be better left us with some better days, but no real change.
What was I missing? The Gospel. In light of the Gospel, my bad news isn't really that bad. It's true, I am a sinner. I have no hope to change on my own. The good news? I don't have to. Jesus' death and resurrection not only paid for my sin, but also gave me Christ's righteousness. In the eyes of God, I have the righteousness of Jesus. I don't carry all of my sin, failure and shame. This is true freedom. Marriage wasn't my Savior. In fact, marriage was one of the greatest tools God used to remind me of my need for a Savior. I am loved. I am forgiven. I don't bear the burden of trying to measure up as a wife. Out of that freedom, I can love Paul more fully. As I lean more into the Gospel, I see the ways it radiates into every crevice of our marriage. This produces real change in me and in our marriage. Marriage might not be a fairytale, but it has been more life giving than I would have ever imagined. As we face new trials, hard days, and uncertainties, we remind each other again of our need for the Gospel every day. I am thankful that God's vow to me enables me to strive to fulfill my vow to Paul in whatever season we face.
“I choose to be committed to you as your wife. I promise and vow to God to love and serve you for the rest of our days. I will strive to make our relationships with God and each other stronger each day. I will honor and respect you. I will submit to you, and walk beside you each day as we follow our King. I will love you with the intimate and extravagant love, with which Jesus first loved me, determined to be your best friend, listen to you, put your needs above my own, and hold you in my heart from this day forward. As this ring encircles my finger, so will my love encircle you from this day forward."