Last week hubby and I celebrated 5 years of marriage! That is a drop in the bucket of what I pray is a long life together, but at 5 years, I look back and am just amazed at how much life we have already been through together and how God has blessed us.
The traditional gift for the fifth wedding anniversary is wood, and as I was thinking about that, I got to thinking of trees. Trees need sunlight, water and nutrients to grow strong and to develop deep roots and strong branches. If their roots are deep, they are able to stand strong even if winds blow forcefully and storms rage violently. Now, after a storm, you may find weak and dead branches littering the ground, but after the tree is rid of this dead wood, it can grow stronger than ever. I’m sure you see where it I am going with this! Marriage is like a great big growing tree – we are rooted in mutual love, common beliefs in a merciful God, and shared interests and experiences. We need infusions of quality time, prayer and unconditional love and respect to grow and keep our roots strong. Just like a tree, we cannot choose the severity or the timing of the storms that hit us- what matters is that after each storm, we are able to shed our dead wood of fear, selfishness and doubt and grow stronger than ever personally and in our marriage.
Just like so many others, we had the passage from 1 Corinthians 14:3-7 read at our wedding:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
We all smile and nod our heads and love these words because we want these things from our spouse, but marriage is meant to be a sanctifying process to make us more godly, not a way for us to get as much as we can from our spouses. So with that in mind, how are we at being these things for our spouse? If you replace the word “love” with forms of the words “I am/I do”, how do you measure up?
“(I am) patient, (I am) kind. (I do not) envy, (I do not) boast, (I am) not proud. (I do) not dishonor others, (I am) not self-seeking, (I am) not easily angered, (I) keep no record of wrongs. (I do) not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. (I) always protect, (I) always trust, (I) always hope, (I) always persevere. 1 Corinthians 14:3-7, (my own emphasis added).
I am seriously convicted by hearing those verses in relation to how I treat my husband and can see that I have some ‘dead wood’ to take care of. I am certainly not kind on some days, have a limited supply of patience on others, and cannot say that I have always trusted or persevered. However, these verses don’t give allowance for my bad days – they say “always“, not “when my husband is kind I‘ll be kind back“, or “when he proves that he is trustworthy I’ll trust“, or “I’m not persevering because I’m tired of trying“. Always, no matter what.
As a final thought, I remember a time when my husband told me that there is a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. At the time this upset me, as naturally, I wanted him to constantly be in love with me. But that’s not real or sustainable, and that was something I really have come to understand in our 5 years of marriage. Marriage is a natural cycle of periods of time where you love someone because of the commitment you have made, your mutual respect and the commandment from God to do so. These may be times when storms are blowing strong in your life and you just can’t sustain passionate emotions. Or maybe you are suffering from differences of opinion and are working through reconciling those differences. On the other hand, there are also periods of time where you are in love like when you were dating and can’t get enough of your spouse – counting the hours until you can see them, constantly wanting to be around them and doing everything in your power to make them happy. Both of these times are important within marriage and its about balance and remembering that when the storms come, you are rooted more deeply than in passing emotions, and can withstand it all with your faith in God and each other.
I have been so blessed by God to have 5 years with a godly man who has stood by me through many storms and grown with me closer to our God. I pray for many, many more to keep learning!