Sacred Marriage

Troy and I went to a marriage seminar several months ago. I thought I had written about it here, but found a half-post buried in my drafts waiting for my attention. I've really been thinking much about what the speaker said lately.

After going to a Christian school 1st - 12th grades, a Christian college for 5 years, a couple (or three?) Faulkner/ Brecheen seminars, and various and sundry other sermons and Sunday school curricula, I went to the seminar prepared to hear things I had heard many times before. But, I figured it couldn't hurt for Troy and I to be reminded that we need to take time for each other and hold hands more often (we're pretty good hand-holders -- any more hand-holding and it really may inhibit our day-to-day activities). I was completely blown away.

Gary Thomas was our speaker, and he looks about 12. At first glance, you wouldn't have imagined that he had even been married long enough to have much to say about it. He's also incredibly soft-spoken. I initially thought it may be a very long day. But he is very enjoyable to listen to, and basically said something that, not only had I never heard before, but it had never even crossed my mind.

His basic premise is that this idea that marriage is for MY happiness and romance is a Hollywood idea, and fairly recent in the history of mankind.

What if, he said, just what if marriage was for MY holiness, not happiness? What if my marriage is all about ME, as one of God's imperfect children, learning to love one of God's imperfect children? What if I viewed my love of my spouse and the way I treat my spouse as one of the many ways I can worship and serve God?

I'm tellin' ya, it had never even crossed my mind, but it made perfect sense. And I'm not an easy person to sway! One example really stuck with me. He mentioned that historians are fairly unanimous in their agreement of Abraham Lincoln being included in the list of the greatest United States presidents of all times; known for his leadership and drive to unity at a terribly divisive time in our history. They are also fairly unanimous in including Mary Todd Lincoln as one of the most miserable and awful First Ladies. Gary Thomas' thought was that perhaps the commitment to cling to his marriage through difficult times prepared him for greatness in the Oval Office.

There are many things I would like to ask him, and many things I'm still praying on, but that viewpoint has brought much peace to me. I think simply because it's a surrender of self and will -- which are, to me, two of the hardest things to get out of the way to make such a close relationship work. And, more importantly, it's a voluntary surrender -- I choose to worship and honor God by the way I treat his son, my husband. My husband doesn't demand it, God doesn't even demand it, but I choose to surrender my way and what I want in order to honor God through my marriage (okay, now I'm sounding like a saint -- which I am NOT -- I'm just explaining this new and painless way of thinking for me). And God, in turn, blesses me with a happier husband who is eager to take care of me and keep me happy! God has also shown me, as I pray to let go of things, that very few things that have irritated me are really worth being upset over. When you pray to the creator of the universe about getting your way for dinner selection, you realize how piddly you sound. Embarrassing, but true.

Something else that REALLY struck me from that seminar was this statement: "As Christians, our greatest witness should be keeping our marriages together. And we're not. Our divorce rate looks no different than the world's." Wow. Very true. What's up with that? I have all sorts of theories about that -- time doesn't allow me to speak to those in a manner sensitive enough for the subject, though. But so much of that comes from us all trying to look like we have it all together, and not having relationships within the Christian family that we can turn to and reveal our hearts and struggles and prayer needs. Of course, many of us within the Christian family cannot be trusted with that information without relaying it to "just a few people" until the chain of gossip already has us divorced. But that's a whole other issue for a whole other blog post!

I would really encourage any of you to read the book, "Sacred Marriage". As much as I am trying to really stay in God's word right now and mainly listen to Him and only Him, I think that the book Sacred Marriage is a great compliment to scripture -- and another step in understanding and remembering that this life, including my marriage, is not about me and my happiness. It's for Him and to reflect His holiness.


Anne Jones said...

We, too, loved the seminar! I continue to think about what he said...happiness vs. holiness. And, treating Nathaniel as God's son. It was all so good!

I love what you said about our marriages being our testimony! Having a safe place to share struggles in your marriage is so important...but so hard to find. I am going to be in prayer about that.

Thanks Sarah!

Denise W said...

Thanks for helping me to remember how much I love one of God's son, Jim. Seeing him as another one of His children makes me more forgiving and less angry.

Love you!

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