“A ‘perfect marriage’ is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.” -Unknown
In 1996 I met this girl. She smelled of Sunflowers and mesmerized me with those two blue “Martina McBride” eyes. I told her she smelled nice and proceeded to begin the process of learning all about her. Her West Virginia roots, her meat-cutter Dad, her dedicated teaching Mom, and her little brother who she loved dearly.
I remember driving up into those West Virginia hills for the first time to meet her Mom and Dad. They were (and still are) good people trying to make a life and be faithful to God in their community and church. Her brother was still in high school, playing baseball and creating a whirlwind of talk around town for his pitching prowess.
Country music was always playing on the radio back and forth between our trips to West Virginia from our time in Lynchburg. Life was at the brimming with possibilities, but our relationship was fragile early on. There were times when we did not know if we would make it together. I had jealousy and insecurity, she had some past relationships that still haunted her.
We both didn’t know what we didn’t know.
On the front end of life we both had big dreams. I was going to be a Youth Pastor. I loved the thought of working with a group of kids, taking them on missions and leading them through their young years. Speaking was something that came naturally to me. I loved to learn the craft and felt like I would someday be as big as my favorite communicators at the time.
She followed my dream and my vision only to realize later that God was going to have teach us both a whole lot about faith, and endurance, suffering, and waiting.
Our story is one of tremendous hope and tremendous failure. It is one that calls us into something deeper and higher than the story we are in. Our story is an echo of a greater story. And our life isn’t perfect.
I get the feeling that sometimes as I write the things I say on this blog, I’m unwittingly communicating that I have all the answers and that you need to listen to me. But truthfully, I am on a journey, the same as you. I have questions and struggles, fits of rage and deep insecurities. To be painfully honest, I don’t always know the way to go, the thing to say, or the actions to take.
In our relationship I have failed probably more than I have succeeded. We have fought and made up. We have fought and not made up. We have gone to bed angry with each other only to rise in the morning angry at each other still. We have gone for days where I have been bitter over something and ended up speaking out in anger at my kids or Rebecca. We have had days where we haven’t hardly spoken at all.
We have made mistakes with friendships, we have made mistakes with money, we have made mistakes with life choices, we have made mistakes with a lot of other things.
Brokenness haunts our life, but it doesn’t define it.
Today I want to offer you the anchor that has helped us to make it through. This anchor sits firmly locked in the ground under the waves and storms of our life. I want to offer this anchor to you as the hope that maybe will help you if you are either building or re-building your marriage or life.
- Jesus. I don’t know how to put this without sounding over-religious because any time you mention “Jesus”… people get all “churchy” in their response. My intention here is not to wax eloquent or to get “pious” or holier than thou on you. In marriage, in life, in relationships…heck… in just about every area of life we have someone who has given us a model way to live their lives. You only need to actually observe and read about Jesus to know that this guy was different in his approach to everything.
- He walked with confidence.
- He spoke with authority.
- He lived simply.
- And He died gloriously.
What does this have to do with our marriage? How could “Jesus”, a person that lived 2000 years ago, possibly have any impact on how we live our lives now? Well. I’m going to tell you.
Our relationship with Jesus as individuals preceded (that means “came before”) our relationship with each other. We were both learning and modeling our lives the best way we knew how after Jesus before we ever came together. We weren’t perfect. We didn’t always listen or follow his voice. But we did each have a foundation of some kind of relationship with Him before we came together.
This wasn’t all about going to church or attending a bunch of religious activities… this was simply about two things:
- Recognizing our need for help through life.
- Realizing the only One who had ever come to save us from ourselves in this life was Jesus.
Looking back on human history… I challenge you to find any faith in the world that teaches that God came down to be with us. You won’t. Jesus is our only real viable option in life. And that is why we have anchored our life and marriage in him.
That West Virginia girl and this East Coast boy have now been at it for about 20 years or so together. I am not the same guy today in the picture that you see at the top of this post today. And neither is she. (She’s prettier now… I know, who could imagine that?)
We have four kids who we love dearly who drive us crazy every day. Life has not taken all the turns we wish it would have and I’m convinced that it won’t look the way I want it to in the future. But that’s okay because I know who it is that we have anchored our life in.
Perhaps you should consider really anchoring your life to Jesus as well. To learn more about how to do that, I encourage you to find a group of Christian people who are serving the poor, the homeless, the helpless, the needy, and the broken and just get around them. Ask lots of questions, apprentice yourself to their ways. Usually, the best place to find people like this is in a good church. Not just any church, look for one that serves people. If they are meeting on Sundays but aren’t reaching outside into their community, then I would question whether they are really a church at all. Because Jesus’ example was that of mission and service, not self-protection and only Sunday morning production oriented.
There’s more to be said, but this is a start. Building a life that works is going to require doing it with a stronger anchor than your will to succeed.
How is your imperfect life working out? Do you have a story to tell? If you think you don’t, then you’re wrong. And if you have any other anchor in your life than Jesus, I would challenge you to question the strength of it. The strongest person, the strongest will, the strongest story, is no match for Him. He is the only anchor that will truly hold.