Marriage Sure Isn't a Prize
A year ago, my husband and I were quietly learning what it meant to be husband and wife. After the parties ended. After our photographer had passed along our images. After my dress had been pressed and preserved.
The real work of it. The breaking of your dating patterns. The bubbling first few months of leaving the house each morning knowing you'll miss him. The avoiding plans between work and home, just so you'll be able to see him sooner.
I was speaking with a sweet girlfriend a few days ago about forever, and how long it seems.
"You'll be thankful for forever," I said.
Being truly, honestly, whole-heartedly thankful that I get forever with this man. That I have his support for a lifetime. How quickly more than a year has breezed by, and how I'm frightened how quickly forever seems.
Slow down, forever.
Before I was married, before I even dated Gordon, before I was out of the sludge of bad relationship decisions and dating nearly anyone who showed a glimmer of interest in me: the jerks, the men who hit, or drink too much, or who were just flat-out wrong, wrong, wrong, I thought marriage was a reward.
I THOUGHT IT WAS A PRIZE FOR THE PEOPLE WHO HAD THEIR LIVES TOGETHER.
AT THE TIME, THERE SEEMED TO BE A CHECKLIST FOR PEOPLE WHO WERE MARRIED:
-They were virginal (for the most part).
-They had, at one point, Kissed Dating Goodbye.
- They were in the folds of God's will for their lives (or at least, it seemed that way).
-They generally had their lives together in a neat little package.
BA-DA-BING, BA-DA-BOOM! SHOWERS! PINTEREST BOARDS! INVITATIONS! RINGS!
REHEARSAL DINNERS! WEDDINGS!
The recipe for marriage. Not only that, but the recipe for deserving marriage. And, at the time, I didn't know what I was doing wrong.
Looking back, this reasoning made absolutely no sense. I knew plenty of broken people who were married. I am such broken person. We all are. Married or not.
I really thought that if I lived my life perfectly, if I dotted my spiritual i's, if went to a Christian graduate school, didn't cuss, let people pass me on the highway, volunteered, made regular appearances in church and Sunday school, and maybe painted in my Bible, I'd be ready. I'd have earned my way into a marriage.
But I've learned that marriage is nothing you earn. It's not a prize for being a phenomenal Christ-follower. It's not the end-goal. It's not even a goal in and of itself.
MARRIAGE IS A GIFT.
By my former standards, f you were to ask why I'm married at this moment, I wouldn't be able to tell you. I've done nothing to deserve the caring and attentive man who asked me to be his wife. I couldn't have begun to earn a second of the deep happiness, the fun, the care and support he's given to me so selflessly these past few months.
And I'm so grateful.
No blessing in our lives, marriage, great career, bonus paycheck, kids, homes, book deals, none of it comes about as something we've earned. The greatest desires of our hearts -- whatever they are -- never come about simply because we're in the best place to receive them.
Sometimes we just happen to be.
But most times, they're more of a reflection of the Giver than us, as the recipient. And today, I'm ever-thankful for this gift I don't deserve, but am so thankful to have been blessed with: my husband.